Will's Story Constructing the Steger Center

I started building the Steger Center back in 1988 when my teammates and I were training for the Trans-Antarctica Expedition. At that time we were two lakes from the nearest road, but that wasn’t an obstacle. We would be leaving the next year to cross Antarctica and the team and dogs needed some exercise to get ready for the journey. So we dog-sledded in a million pounds of gravel and 5,000 bags of cement; each trip was three miles and up three hills. The sand we needed from the local pit was frozen, so we chipped it out with picks and transported it in five-gallon buckets stacked in the sleds. That workout paid off. In the spring, we poured the foundation for the Center by hand and in July we left for Antarctica to make the first and longest-ever dogsled traverse of the continent.

A lot has changed since then. We put in a road to bring in cement trucks; the infrastructure has been upgraded; the campus has been built out; and the five-story Leadership Center, begun with that foundation in 1988, will be completed in the next couple of years.

Up until 2021, I supported all the work on the Steger Center through old-fashioned hard work. I gave professional lectures, wrote books, did photography, and designed clothing for the outdoor industry. Nearly everything I earned was invested in the Steger Center. In addition, thousands of people volunteered in various capacities, and I paid the many craftspeople who made the building possible.

In 2021, I donated my life’s work and assets to the non-profit Steger Center for Innovation and Leadership. The dream of building a “Camp David” in the wilderness now resides in this 501(c)(3) organization and in the hands of the countless people who have contributed their time and talents to the Steger Center community.

There are two phases to the completion of the entire Steger Center Campus:

Phase I (2027): This includes the completion of the 5-story Leadership Center, the infrastructure and lodging for summer programming, staff, and 3-season accommodations for up to 58 people.

Phase II (2030): This includes the completion of 5-star accommodations for up to 20 people, including accessibility lodging, the dining hall for up to 60, and the gardens and grounds will be updated.

The ultimate goal of the Steger Center, is to create a place where leaders can come together to solve real-world problems. If you would like to support the completion of the Center, please consider making a tax-deductible donation.