Turn Your Dream Camp into a Reality (Show)
by Elizabeth Folwell
“For us, the Adirondacks represents the frontier, the true wilderness,” says George Verschoor, executive producer of documentaries, concert films, scripted comedies, reality shows and popular programs such as Extreme Makeover Home Edition. The Hoosick Falls, New York, native has visited Tupper Lake, Lake George and Lake Placid; rafted the Hudson Gorge; and retains an abiding appreciation for our dramatic landscape.
That’s why he’s at the helm of a new National Geographic Channel series called Building Wild. Verschoor wants to craft a unique rustic cabin for a person “with real passions for the outdoors, like fishing, hunting, birdwatching, hiking or cross-country skiing.”
Folks who already own a beautiful parcel—one that would be approved for a building permit—and have a true affinity for the Adirondack wild are encouraged to send photos of their site and tell their stories to be considered for the dream cabin. “We like the owners to be involved in the project and to bring real skills to the task,” he explains.
The place would be compact (no more than 400 square feet), rustic style and erected in just a week by volunteers and professionals converging on the site as the cameras roll. “It would most likely be off the grid and seasonal,” says Verschoor. The size and amenities fit the Adirondack Park Agency definition of a hunting or fishing camp, backcountry structures that represent longstanding architectural traditions.
Each site dictates a specific approach to capturing the view and making the cabin fit in a particular setting. Building Wild is not a quick-and-dirty, generic approach to construction. The owner’s interests would be reflected by using antique gear, sporting equipment and salvaged building materials to give real character to the decor.
There are challenges, for sure—”not just Mother Nature,” says the show’s producer, whose extensive resume includes reality shows for Fox, ABC and MTV plus PBS programs such as Change Begins Within, starring Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and other renowned musicians. “Half the battle may be getting there.” Access could be an issue and there should be adequate ways to bring in building materials. The crew is hoping to begin construction in late summer or early fall.
Teaming up with gifted contractor Paul DiMeo, there’s plenty of screen cred for Building Wild. The program is a big departure for National Geographic’s television lineup, blending the DIY demographic with long-time fans of nature and human-interest documentaries.
To be considered for this project, which comes at no cost to the landowner, people should send good-quality digital photos of the site and the view and a description of what they love about the Adirondacks to BuildingWildCasting@gmail.com. If there is already a structure on the site a picture of that should be included, and a photo or two of the surrounding area is important. Existing buildings—barns, lean-tos, sheds—could be rehabbed into distinctive living spaces.
One project is near Bennington, Vermont, an area Verschoor knows well. But his Adirondack quest can include a remote pond, spectacular mountainside or trophy trout stream. When you share your dreams for an Adirondack camp, please use “Adirondack Life told me about Building Wild” in the subject line.