For the author of Microshelters, a childhood hobby became a lifelong passion.

Derek “Deek” Diedricksen (right) and brother Dustin, in a childhood fort

This photo was taken in about 1985. What clues me in is the Mets hat I’m wearing — a hat I wore for a few months after going to Shea Stadium to see Dwight Gooden pitch in his rookie year. This shot reminds me of how my brother, Dustin, and I would find scrap materials discarded by neighbors or at worksite dumpsters and cobble together forts with any plunder we could get our tiny mitts on. Heck, I’m still doing that!

Back then, we would build guerrilla-style on land that wasn’t ours, often deep in the woods and always in swampy areas. The mud, mosquitoes, and murky creeks that needed to be crossed appealed to us and seemed to keep adults out. We’d just pole-vault the streams, hop from tiny swamp island to tiny swamp island, cross slimy logs, and even wade through the water until we got to a dry and secluded locale where we could build away from prying eyes. Getting the materials to that spot was another story, but it never seemed to deter us. I can think of eight forts we built as kids. I wish we had photos of all of them.

Derek "Deek" Diedricksen

Derek “Deek” Diedricksen is the author of Micro Living and Microshelters. He hosts the YouTube channel RelaxshacksDOTcom and has hosted, built, and designed for the HGTV series… See Bio

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