Welch Trail Education Center Gets a Makeover

January 30, 2021
Nancy Krause, Conservation Corps Assistant
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Welch Trail Education Center Gets a Makeover
Welch Trail Education Center improvements. Photo by Nancy Krause.


The 2020 season was not the first year that the Trail Conference used the Welch Trail Education Center, aka Harriman State Park Group Camp LT-1, to house our AmeriCorps members during their service with the Trail Conference Conservation Corps. Nor was it the first year we fixed some broken lights or windows. But two things happened in our favor this year that was a real game-changer.

First, we were awarded a grant through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund Grant Program for Parks, Preservation, and Heritage to restore the facilities. Much time and care went into the plan and budget, including drawing up new plans for an education building. Thanks to the talents of architect Elizabeth Parks, who helped us get this project off the ground, we were able to get the necessary approvals from the park and the State Environmental Quality Review completed. With a budget established, we were ready to start the real planning for the new building, plus the list of repairs on the existing 11 buildings on the property.

As soon as possible, we hit the ground running and Cabin 209, the Box Car Cabin, was restored. While all the cabins in the group camp are considered historic structures, this is the only one with a unique boxcar-style architecture. In 2018, not even a year after getting a new roof, this cabin was hit by a fallen tree. In November 2020, thanks to this grant, we were able to restore the cabin. It will now be ready by spring 2021 to house Corps members.

The other thing that happened to help this project was the surprise addition of new volunteers with some extra time on their hands due to COVID-19. Stephen Howard (my dad) donated over 140 hours rebuilding and refinishing broken windows in the main hall. He also fixed one water heater, repaired a water line to the dishwasher, and repaired siding on the main hall.

Steve Krause (my husband) put his engineering skills to work fixing anything and everything broken we could find. He has donated over 186 hours on plumbing repairs, fan motor installation, lock installation, new siding carpentry, water heater repairs, dock repairs, and electrical repairs.

After every visit to the camp, I have been amazed by just how much we have accomplished. Thanks to a donation of 25 gallons of stain by Benjamin Moore & Company, I organized the staining of the new siding, recruiting painters like Corps members in need of extra hours, an occasional Trail Conference employee, and even my two sons. Thanks also goes to the State of New York and Valley Rock Inn for their generous support of our camp restoration efforts.

The 2020 Corps season may have ended, but the planning for 2021 is in full swing. Do you have a hidden talent with carpentry, roofing, plumbing, electric, or painting? Did you or someone you love go to one of the old group camps as a child and you want to get involved in preserving the camp? If so please, reach out to [email protected] for more information.

Welch Trail Education Center Volunteer Opportunities

If interested in donating to our improvements of the Welch Trail Education Center, email [email protected].