If you drive an hour and a half north of Brunswick and into the woods of Camden, Maine, you may find a homemade treehouse suspended above the ground. Eben Kopp ’17 built the treehouse at the beginning of this summer and lived in it for three months before returning to Bowdoin for his senior year.  

While Kopp was abroad in Tanzania spring semester, he learned that his mom had sold his childhood home in Camden and bought a different property in the woods where she would eventually build a house. Upon hearing that the property would be vacant for the summer, Kopp decided to make use of the land as an alternative living situation. 

His original plan was to build a yurt—a large tepee-like structure—but after extensive planning and research during his semester in Tanzania, Kopp thought of something better.

“I was thinking a lot about moisture and if it was going to get wet and I just couldn’t figure [out how to make it work]. One day—I honestly don’t know how it came to me—I was like, ‘let’s just hang [the house],’” he said.

Despite having almost no experience in construction, Kopp and his girlfriend, Kenya Perry, began building the tree house when he returned from Tanzania at the end of May. They moved in by the middle of June.

While in the woods, the couple focused on adventure, sustainability and what Kopp described as “type two fun,” which is the fun one has when looking back on an experience, rather than fun in the moment.

“Having to carry our own water in, being super aware of energy consumption—just all sorts of things that we would take for granted otherwise—we had to really work for and were super aware of, which was really cool,” he said.

Kopp’s favorite thing about the summer, aside from the fact that he was living in a hanging treehouse, was his increased awareness of his environmental footprint. After a full day of work, doing laundry, cooking and showering, the most water Kopp and Perry used was about 10 gallons. By the end of the summer, they only had about two bins full of waste.

“More so than I would have anticipated, it made me want to live more sustainably in my future,” said Kopp.          

After graduation, he plans to take time off and go on more adventures that incorporate sustainable living.

 “I’d like to spend time, maybe not necessarily in the tree house in the woods, but [doing] something that’s a little [less] conventional for some period of my life,” he said.

After completing a sea semester last fall and living in Tanzania in the spring, returning to Bowdoin this fall has been the first time in a year that Kopp has lived “conventionally.”
 “It’s really weird living back where the toilet flushes,” he said.

The fact that Kopp spent his summer in a tree house was no surprise to Yasmin Hayre ’17, who lived on his first year floor. 

“I don’t know how long we were in school when he started talking about how he wanted to build a house out in the woods,” she said.  

“If you think of Eben, you just think of his explorative ideas,” said Hayre. “He’s definitely into doing things that only certain people are [into].”

She added that she was glad he had found somebody, Perry, with whom he could adventure. 

“I called [Kenya] up from Tanzania and I was like, ‘Babe, we’re going to live in a hanging tree house’ and she was very much like, ‘Alright I’m for it,” which was super good to have that support,” said Kopp. 

“It takes a certain type of person to be on board for pooping in a bucket for three months,” he added.