By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Senior Editor

BIG SKY – A yurt is a temporary, portable structure traditionally used by nomadic people in Central Asia. Beginning this summer, one will provide a more permanent home for Camp Big Sky in the community park.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Camp Big Sky and Katie Coleman has been its summer camp director from the start.

“The yurt is a feasibility study,” Coleman said. “The [Big Sky Community Corp.] board decided to use it for two to five years to determine what we need space-wise for the future.”

Custom built by Missoula’s Sheltered Designs, the 700-square-foot covered space will serve as a home base for the day campers to seek shelter from poor weather, enjoy a hot meal and have shade for arts and crafts projects and indoor games.

Camp Big Sky offers 15 different types of programs throughout the summer and at EBS press time there were 150 kids signed up for programs this year. The camp was outgrowing the 300-square-foot tennis court building that had served as a weather shelter in past years.

The yurt and surrounding decking cost approximately $30,000, funding that was split between BSCC and Camp Big Sky. The Big Sky-based Cook Family Foundation donated an additional $5,000 to the project and Bozeman-based Simkins-Hallin contractors donated $1,500 worth of materials for the decking.

Coleman is currently writing grants for another $5,000 to outfit the structure with picnic tables, shelving and cubbyholes.

While the materials for Camp Big Sky’s new home wouldn’t exist without grants, donations and organizational funding, it never would have gotten off the ground without a significant volunteer effort, Coleman said.

Big Sky community members have contributed more than 800 volunteer hours to complete the structure and decking, and to help out with landscaping so far.