- Associated Press - Saturday, June 7, 2014

DUNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) - In a quiet, secluded campground on Massapoag Pond, the students have worked for weeks to replace an outdated cabin on site.

At Camp Massapoag, carpentry instructor John Maslowski has led 14 seniors from Greater Lowell Technical High School through the cabin-building process. He said, though, that he hardly had to show the teens what to do.

“I can show them a couple of techniques and stuff like that, but it’s 100 percent done by the kids,” he said. “That’s what makes it awesome.”

Greater Lowell Tech students worked to help the Greater Lowell YMCA revitalize their newly purchased camp, which hosts about 800 children through day-camp programs each summer.

Maslowski worked with seniors to replace an existing cabin with this new 16-foot by 18-foot structure, on which construction should wrap up soon. Maslowski said with Construction Technology Chairman Daniel Hamel, the School Department will return to Camp Massapoag every year to replace about one to two cabins for the YMCA from now on.

Greater Lowell YMCA CEO Ray Adams said the school’s volunteerism has been a big help. For years, the Lowell-based group rented the camp, which actor Matt Damon once attended. But having recently purchased it, Adams said the YMCA has been looking to update the grounds, with about four cabins that need some work.

“We bought it, and it was in pretty rough shape,” he said.

Adams said the camp has spent about $300,000 on improvements, including a new septic system, new ballfields, basketball courts and a rope course. The YMCA has had several groups come in to help, recently including employees from Hewlett Packard. Through an anonymous donor, Adams noted the YMCA gives away about $500,000 in scholarships so any child can come to the camp from Greater Lowell and beyond.

The Greater Lowell Tech students took on the cabin construction on their own. Maslowski said his 14 seniors finished up their work in time for graduation late last month, and he’s bringing out juniors now to finish up the last parts of the project. The project will take about three weeks to complete in all.

Senior Kaylee Morin, 18, of Dracut, said the project helped her gain a lot of hands-on experience. She’ll set off to join the Air Force in October, but she said she’s glad to have carpentry as a set of skills she can keep under her belt.

“I love working with my hands, and I like to make something out of nothing,” she said. “Once I’m out (of the military), I’ll have carpentry always on my side.”

Adrianna Anstiss, another 18-year-old carpentry senior from Dracut, will head to Middlesex Community College when she graduates.

She said she joined her school’s carpentry program because she wanted to be more handy.

“I figured I wanted to be able to do everything on my own, instead of calling people to do it for me,” Anstiss said.

She added she was glad to gain her experience helping local kids from the Lowell area enjoy their camp a little more.

Maslowski, a 14-year carpenter, said this is his first year teaching and he’s been amazed by what the teenagers have achieved so far.

“I have a lot of great potential carpenters,” he said. “There’s definitely some talent.”

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