Shelter Caretaker | Catskills

Do you enjoy spending time in the Catskills? Give back to this beautiful region by becoming a shelter caretaker!

Our Shelter Caretaker Program is currently full. If you are interested in being placed on a wait list for this program, please fill out the application below.



We are looking for dedicated individuals to care for the Catskills backcountry lean-tos that provide shelter to day hikers and overnight backpackers.  By maintaining a shelter and keeping it enticing for hikers, you help minimize distress to the surrounding environment by focusing locations for overnight stays.

Sign up below to adopt your own, “Cabin in the Woods!”


Overview of Core Responsibilities 

  • Shelter Caretaking: We ask that you visit your adopted lean-to(s) at least twice each year; preferably once in the spring and again during the autumn months before winter sets. Your maintenance trips will ensure the shelter stays in good, safe condition for all the visitors it hosts!
  • Accomplishments Reporting: It is crucial that volunteer reports get back to the Trail Conference since this information is used to inform us of needed repairs and demonstrate our volunteers’ and organization’s value to land managers, partners, donors, etc.


How to Care for a Shelter

On the hike in observe any missing or damaged signs and trail conditions that may need attention (i.e. large tree across the pathway, a bridge in need of repair, etc.). These observations will go in your report. 

Upon arriving at the lean-to various tasks will need to be completed as part of your site inspection.  All the work is straightforward, requiring no special tools. If you’re able to hike, then you can do this job!

So what’s involved?  Here’s the list of the tasks asked of each shelter caretaker:

  • Clean leaves and dirt from the roof and away from contact with the base logs.
  • Remove any dangerous nails people might catch themselves on.
  • Sweep out and clean the shelter of debris (i.e. leaves, etc.)
  • Maintain adequate drainage away from the lean-to site.
  • Clean the water source of leaves and other debris.
  • Remove trash from the general area and fireplace; pack those items out when you leave.
  • Shovel out the fireplace of ashes and distribute them in the area to replenish the soil.
  • Rebuild the stone fireplace as you are able; dismantle extra fire rings around the site.
  • Clean out the privy (aka: outhouse) and place layers of leaves or other organic material on the waste in the vault to aid in decomposition.
  • Tent sites affiliated with your lean-to should also be included in the above tasks.

At the conclusion of your trip there is a short report form we’ll ask you to complete.  It will give you a place to note all that was found during your inspection of the lean-to site.  You will also have the opportunity to report the need for any repair work that the shelter would benefit from. 

Sign up below to adopt your own, “Cabin in the Woods!”


Time Commitment: 
Check assigned shelter at least twice a year

Volunteer Opportunity

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