Ellie Yeater is an inspiration for all DIY-loving teens. The fourteen-year-old remodeled a cheap old trailer into a hideaway for her and her friends and then remodeled a different one to raise money for a friend’s cancer treatment.
In the summer of 2016, the West Virginian teen started renovating a camper van from the 1970’s. She had saved up $500 to create her “glamper,” and was able to buy a run-down van for $200. The rest of the money was used to buy materials for the renovation, including paint, floor tiles, and new fabric to reupholster the old seating.
Yeater’s DIY spirit runs in the family; her brother Isaiah had already built a cabin in the woods of the family’s 60-acre property. So she had plenty of help from her family in building her dream van. Her grandfather lent a helping hand with the carpentry and painting, and her grandmother helped the teen furnish her mini-paradise.
As Ellie told reporters from Woodcraft.com, “I couldn’t have gotten this far on this project without my family helping me bring my vision to life.”
But her family credits the project mostly to her tenacity.
While her mother said that the project was “a lot of work” for the teen to take on, she also added, “I have never told her that she couldn’t do anything. She has always been an out-of-the-box thinker. I don’t want her to ever feel she has to color inside the lines. I want her to color the entire page!”
The last addition to the project was a stepping-stone path through the woods to the camper. “I like how it isn’t straight,” the teen said, “just like life.”
Last year, Ellie’s story was shared around the world, reaching millions of readers in hundreds of languages. When Ellie started getting offers to buy the tiny trailer, she decided to build another one, and use the proceeds from it to fund her friend Elijah’s cancer treatment.
The replica camper is just as beautiful as the original. With her family’s help, Ellie replaced the rotten woodwork, power-washed and re-painted the exterior, and remodeled the interior with her signature, whimsical style. It also features a table that folds down to become a bed.
“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,” her mother Lori said. “This ranks up there as one of my most proud moments as her momma.”
Despite worldwide media attention and acclaim, Ellie remains humble. “I just wanted to help my friend,” she said. “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.”