South Portland’s Bob Crowley – who shot to fame when he won the TV show, “Survivor” – has come to symbolize the ingenuity, honesty and character of Mainers.

So it’s no surprise that Crowley’s summer project is to build a Maine camp, but not just any ordinary log cabin or bunk house.

Ever the resourceful Yankee, this newly minted millionaire and high school science teacher is constructing a yurt with harvested trees and bargain-price materials, including shrink wrap.

Crowley paused from his summer task to talk about the allure and fun of owning a Maine camp.

Q: Tell me about your yurt … Why not a cabin?

A: Actually, it’s a winter camp to use when we are snowmobiling. It’s a winter yurt but we’ll probably use it in the summer time, too. Once it is up and functional, we will go anytime.

Q: Why a yurt?

A: We wanted to build a cabin like we have on a (Maine) island, but we can’t build without a permit, so we put up a yurt before I build a permanent structure.

Q: How are you building it?

A: I hate spending money on stuff. It is built out of just trees and shrink plastic wrap from the boat yard in Yarmouth. Anything from the platform up, I got from the property (in Androscoggin County).

Q: Will this last a while?

A: It should be there until somebody buries me someplace. The shrink wrap has a three- or four-year life. Then we will put new shrink wrap around it; the intent is for it to be there forever. If we get a permit for a cabin, we will keep it as a guest house …

It has 16 sides. The ceiling looks like a spider web. Basically, it is a mobile tent. It is a summer camp, except we will use it in the winter time. It was inspired by some yurts we stayed at in Brownfield. We went up there in the middle of winter. Those Pacific yurts are insulated and cost $30,000.

Q: How much has your yurt cost so far to build?

A: Above the platform, it probably cost me $150.

Q: What do you like most about having a Maine camp?

A: My son and I just went out to our camp on the island. I spent a week and half correcting what Mother Nature had done last winter. I like being the caretaker of the property, mowing, cutting down limbs, replacing blown-out windows. My son removed two tons of seaweed and made big mulch piles.

Q: Is having a Maine camp anything like being on “Survivor”?

A: When I first got on “Survivor,” a psychiatrist did a test, a psychological profile of my personality that was printed on a graph. He looked confused. The graph went way high up in the air and then just stopped. He said the graph showed two different results – of someone very gregarious who likes being the center of attention and then suddenly someone who doesn’t like being around people.

I said, “Let me try to explain this to you. I’m from Maine, and I have a camp on an island. I bring people out there and like entertaining and feeding them lobsters. Just about the only thing I like more than that is when I put them on a boat and send them away. Then I am all by myself. I can haul lobster traps and dig for clams and be alone.”

That’s what is special about having a Maine camp. It’s a nice place to spend time with family, but you also can be alone, sit by the fire and relax.

Bob Crowley of South Portland, who made his name by winning “Survivor,” above, is now building a portable camp known as a yurt in order to enjoy the Maine outdoors. (File photo)


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