A Glamper with a PurposeComments (0)
She’s at it again, but this time 15-year-old Ellie Yeater’s glamper makeover is an effort to raise money for a young friend battling cancer. A year ago, we told you about the hunting camper that Ellie (then 14) purchased with her babysitting money and transformed into a sweet little retreat for herself and her friends. The Internet exploded. The story has been viewed 2.26 million times (as of this writing) just on Hometalk alone, it was shared and retold internationally in many languages—Reba McEntire even shared it on her Facebook page!—and it continues to receive attention even today. Ellie, who lives in Williamstown, West Virginia, with her parents and brother Isaiah, has been contacted by the Rachel Ray Show and a production company for HGTV, has done media interviews and gets recognized in public as the “glamper girl.” But through it all, she remains a sweet teenage girl with a heart of gold.
PHOTO: After her 2016 camper makeover, Ellie's story went around the globe in many languages.
Ellie’s mom Lori is hoping all the attention from the first makeover will pay off for their friend, 13-year-old Elijah “Eli” Clark, who is fighting brain cancer. “The last one brought worldwide attention. Literally. It's been retold in at least a dozen countries and it keeps going. A Danish journalist contacted me just a few weeks ago about running her story,” she said. The reaction has been overwhelming, to say the least.
inside the camper she refurbished into a fun “glamper” last summer, with the
help of her family. “Her friends always love the camper,” said Ellie’s mom.
“She’s even had a friend get a camper of her own since this happened.”
After the success and popularity of her last glamper makeover and countless offers to buy it, Ellie began making plans for a new project. The teen originally bought another camper with the intention of selling it and making a little business out of it, or maybe saving for college or buying something for herself, Lori told me. “However, Ellie said it just wasn’t sitting right in her spirit to keep the money, and she felt like she should donate the money toward Elijah’s treatment. This ranks up there as one of my most proud moments as her momma.”
As Ellie explains it, “I just wanted to help my friend.” She recalled a series preached by her former pastor Glenn Perry called “Love Does” based on the Bob Goff book, which encourages readers to put hands and feet to work for good. “I just felt a wrestling within that I should do this to help him because as a kid, I didn’t know of any other way. I just knew how to redo campers, and I began thinking this was what I could do.”
PHOTO: Glamper #2 – Here we go again!
The two teens met through the Actors Guild of Parkersburg (West Virginia), where they were part of a child actors group called Guild Builders. Last year they were cast in the musical “Scrooge,” where Lori played Mrs. Cratchit and Ellie and Eli had parts as her children. Not long after, Eli became ill. His great personality and sense of humor have allowed him to keep a positive outlook throughout his illness, endearing him to the Yeaters as well as the local community, where he was recently honored as parade marshal in the Parkersburg Homecoming parade.
is the son of Roy Jr. and Karen Clark of Walker,
West Virginia, where he resides with his brothers, Caleb (15) and Josiah (10). Karen
told me that Eli was really excited about the last glamper and all the
attention Ellie received as a result. They knew she had another project in the
works, but she said, “Never in my wildest dreams did I think she would sell it
for him. You find out who your friends are during something like this, and
Ellie has been a true and faithful friend to Eli. He just loves her. Not many
kids would do what she has done.”
PHOTO: Friends Eli Clark and Ellie Yeater
GLAMPER 2.0 – Here We Go Again!
Ellie found the camper for sale on a Facebook bulletin board page—a 1976 Serro Scotty. She was able to negotiate the price down from $300 to $250, but this camper turned out to be “in far worse condition than we expected” once they got it home, Lori said.
As with the last glamper restoration, this was a Yeater family effort that took about a month to complete. All hands were on deck to assist with cleaning inside and out, making repairs, painting and decorating.
Ellie’s dad, Larry, and Papaw Lawrence rebuilt a lot of the inside walls and woodwork that was beyond repair.
Brother Isaiah (age 17) power washed the outside to prep for exterior painting.
A lot of woodwork had to be replaced.
Ellie's brother Isaiah powerwashed the outside of the camper.
A new rubber roof was put on the camper.
PHOTO: Cutting new rubber roofing to size to go over the existing roof.
To determine the decorating scheme, Lori and Ellie took a trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics, where Ellie selected two fun pink prints and a black and white chevron pattern. These colors became the basis for the entire transformation.
Next it was time to select coordinating paint colors. They went with a lovely shade of pink called “Second Blush” in Valspar Duramax exterior grade paint, along with black and white. Let the painting begin!
PHOTO: Ellie took advantage of a great sale and coupons to get her fabrics for the new glamper.
paint it pink
Exterior painting is coming along!
Ellie cleans the inside of the roll-out window.
In hindsight, Lori said she wishes they had used primer on the outside before painting the camper, “because it took MANY coats to cover.” But once that was done, things started to come together.
They were able to order replica decals from the camper company to replace the old ones after the painting was complete. They also gave the original emblem on the outside a fresh coat of black paint.
New tires donated by Papaw Lawrence now sport fresh pink and white rims.
Cabinet doors taped off for white trim
Interior painting continues
Cool new wheels
Replica decals replace the old.
Original emblem gets a fresh coat of paint.
New curtains compliments of Grandma Mary
Black and white peel & stick tiles
A handy seamstress, Grandma Mary made some sweet little curtains for the glamper in the small floral fabric Ellie selected.
“My favorite part of this makeover’s décor is this flooring,” Ellie said. After sweeping up the bare floors, she put down black and white peel and stick tiles from Lowe’s.
Lori helped out with a lot of the painting and recovering the bench cushions with Ellie, not to mention taking photos to document the process and updating eager followers on the project’s progress. Larry did the “fix-it” work. Lori laughed and said, “Oh she can get that man to do anything. He’s wrapped around her pinky finger.”
The glamper comes with a mini fridge purchased from a friend’s daughter who just finished college. Though it does not have heat or a/c, Lori remarked, “we have found that the air moves through the camper quite well with the windows open. A fan is all we’ve ever really used but whoever gets it could put an air conditioner in it if they wanted.” There was no bathroom in the camper when they purchased it but Lori said there is a closet that possibly had a portable unit in it at one time.
Ellie's mom Lori was a big help
The last step in the remodel was Lori and Ellie’s favorite part — adding the “pretty things” like pillows, pictures, a bright pink rug and other whimsical décor in a “love” theme.
In addition to the curtains, Grandma Mary made the tablecloth, placemats and napkins. They found some pink Depression glass plates at the Habitat ReStore, and the antique porcelain plates are from Lori’s personal collection, completing the little dining area. The table is a great spot for board games with friends or writing in a journal. When it’s time for a sleepover, the table folds down to make a bed.
All the Pretties
Tablecloths, placemats and napkins sewn by Grandma Mary
The table folds down to make a bed
The space is filled with all kinds of positive messages: “Dream,” “Choose Happiness,” “Be Kind – Be Positive – Be Awesome,” “Good Vibes Only.” Fluffy pillows and soft blankets make the interior feel cozy and ready for new owners to take her home. There’s even a cute little trash can that fits right in with the glamper motif and color scheme and a great retro style fan.
"Love Never Ends"
Sweet little retro fan
"Trailer Trash" can
Even the inside of the closet is pink
Little mini glamper completes the look
A message board beside the chalkboard closet door continues the positive affirmations and includes #EliStrong in honor of her friend. When mom Lori saw the words Ellie chose for the sign, she said, “The last line got me. It simply says ‘Love Does.’ I am so proud of my kiddo and her desire to help her friend in her own little way. She put ‘Love Does’ into practice, and I'm grateful for all the folks who have been so helpful.”
Family friends Darren and Kelly Galisky from Gator Energy donated some paint and décor items to help the Yeaters keep the cost down on the project. All told, they still ended up spending about $1,500 in total on this remodel. “We are way over budget,” Lori said. “Ellie ended up spending a lot more on this camper because the wood on the inside was not repairable in many spots.”
But they would do it all again for Eli. “He is more than a friend,” Lori said. “Elijah has become family to us and you do anything for family.”
Ellie said she hopes some little (or big) girl will have many
happy moments in this glamper.
Ready to Roll!
The renovations are complete, and Glamper 2.0 is ready to roll. After much due diligence, Lori partnered with the Williamstown Community Association to act as their fiscal agent in the fundraiser for Eli. Tickets will be sold for $20 each from September 26 to October 14, when a winner will be announced at a benefit at the Parkersburg High School Field House. “If we can sell 500 tickets, that’s $10,000!” Lori shared. “We want to get as much as we can for this so Ellie can give Eli’s family a big, fat check.”
Glamper #1 led the Yeaters on a path they never expected. Lori still shakes her head. “Who would have ever guessed an old $200, broken-down, piece of crap camper she glamped up and brought back to life would bring about all of this?! I'm dumbfounded. Really. Dumbfounded. It still shocks me.” The reaction of the first story has been far-reaching beyond Ellie’s parents’ wildest imaginations. “Ellie was even a leading story on AOL sandwiched between President Barack Obama and Mother Teresa receiving sainthood! It’s incredible! But most importantly, it led her to doing Glamper 2.0.”
Will there be a Glamper #3? “At this point, I’m not sure if we have another one in us to do,” Ellie said. “It’s a lot of work and this one was in worse shape to begin with. BUT maybe after some time passes, I’ll be able to convince my parents to do another one.”
I think this young lady can do anything and everything she sets her mind to.
To read about the glamper remodel that started it all, check out our original blog story here: Let's Go Glamping.
Here are a few other Woodworking Adventures stories about exceptional and creative teens:
We hope you'll be inspired!
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