Activity Snapshot: 

When thinking about place, we often think about our home, or our shelter.  Building your own shelter can take many different forms, and should be inspired by your home environment and the materials that you have available. This week, we challenge you to build a shelter that keeps you warm, protected from elements, and feels special to you.

Here are some examples of different types of shelters to get you thinking:

A-Frame Tarp Shelter

This is a simple structure made using just a tarp and ridgeline. If you have some of these supplies, try following along with the video as a guide and make your own.

If set up properly, this structure can be an effective sleeping shelter for one person because it traps heat and protects from the elements. 

Our demonstration uses two trees as anchors- but you can use a fence post, telephone pole or even a sturdy beam inside your house!

Indoor Fort

This shelter is made using a variety of blankets and fabric and a small canoe paddle, held up with knots between the end of a bed and a bookshelf.

Think about what you want your shelter to be used for and how you can use the skills from the tarp set up video creatively to create your space. 

Make it specific for a special activity you enjoy- like crafting, reading, or napping. This fort was made with a special pup in mind!

Outdoor Fort

This structure is found in the woods on Chewonki Neck using natural materials. Make sure to only use wood or plant material that is already dead, down and on the ground. 

Think about the benefits of your structure: Does it camouflage with the environment? Is it waterproof? Is it aesthetically pleasing? 

You can also combine natural materials with man-made materials to create your structure!


Whenever we are spending time outside, and especially when focusing on Outdoor Living Skills, it is important to keep in mind the guidelines created by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. 

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare (Know Before You Go)
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces (Choose the Right Path)
  • Dispose of Waste Properly (Trash Your Trash)
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts (Be Careful with Fire)
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors (Be Kind to Other Visitors)

You can read more on their website: The 7 Principles and watch these quick videos,  7 Principles Hand Signs and Leave No Trace Seven Principles Hand Signs for Youth, for a fun way to learn and remember these principles. Keep them in mind as you participate in Outdoor Living Skills activities and challenges and other activities through Camp Chewonki @Home. 


Be inspired by your home environment to practice shelter building to create a special space in your home place. 

Time Recommended:

  • 45-90 min


  • Use what you find!


  1. Find a location in your home environment to build your shelter- consider Leave No Trace Principles when doing so.
  2. Collect items you will use to build your shelter. Check in before borrowing or using items that belong to other members of your family!
    • Consider if you want to build your structure from natural materials or manmade objects or a blend of both.
  3. Think about the purpose of your shelter (use, number of people, setting) and get to work! Use the “Tarp Set Up” video as a guide for things to think about when building and skills to try to incorporate.
  4. Spend some time in your shelter when it is complete! Check in with your caretaker about the possibility of spending the night in your shelter if it is suited to do so!

Important References:

A bowline knot makes a secure loop at the end of a piece of rope. It can be used to secure one end of a ridgeline or tie up a boat. Under load, it will not slip or bind up. Two bowlines can be linked together to join two ropes. It cannot be tied or untied when there is weight on the standing end.

A trucker’s hitch allows for a knot that can tighten easily, but is still releasable. It is a valuable knot for securing one end of a ridgeline or the corners of a tarp, closing a wannigan or tying gear into canoes.

Closing Questions:

  1. When building your shelter what LNT principles did you consider or follow? What materials did you use to build your shelter?
  2. What does shelter mean to you? How does the structure you built provide shelter and what uses is it best suited for? 
  3. What is it like to spend time in your own space that you created?

Share with your Community:

Make a drawing or take a picture of you building your shelter or giving a tour when your shelter is complete. You also can write a reflection that answers the closing questions and share it! Submit your work to be included in the Camp Chewonki@Home Community Galleries in Chapin Hall!

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