CAMDEN — Hans Bengtsson on Spring Street is a man of many talents.

He is a trained engineer, an accomplished outdoorsman, an award-winner in orienteering and the kind of guy who can make a German Shepherd haul its own food.

But what he is known for on his street is making igloos.

Hans, who is in his 80s, has lived in Camden full-time since 2005. He is originally from Sweden.

“That is where my cute accent comes from,” he said.

Asked if everyone from Sweden knows how to make snow shelters, he agreed that they do just as they all have pet polar bears. There is a dry sense of humor there.

He has made 20 to 30 igloos in his life-long career. He warns that it is cold, wet work. An igloo takes about four hours to construct and requires at least two people. It involves making and lugging and placing up to 80 heavy blocks of snow.

Hans Bengtsson supervises and helps with construction of an igloo in Camden. Photo courtesy of Gretchen Kuhn

Making the blocks starts with a large area to be cut. Photo courtesy of Gretchen Kuhn

Cutting the blocks. Photo courtesy of Gretchen Kuhn

This year, as we have seen snow storms reaching into March, conditions have been perfect and he showed a group of the neighborhood children how to do the work. He was brought to our attention by neighbor Gretchen Kuhn, who also provided the photos.

The last igloo in the front yard on Spring Street lasted about three days before melting and collapsing, he said.

Hans works on the dome of the igloo. Photo courtesy of Gretchen Kuhn

Retiring to Camden worked out for him because his wife, Lena, loves the sea and he loves the mountains. He does trail work with Coastal Mountains Land Trust.

“I can handle rugged living,” he said.

He remembers spending two weeks out on the trail in the Swedish Lapland, walking from hut to hut. He hiked about 20 kilometers per day with his dog, a German Shepherd named Kerki.

Kerki pulled a sled called a pulk. Sometimes, Hans explains, the dog would enjoy the sunshine and pretend to have the sled stuck in a bush so he could sun himself. “Till I told him that’s enough.”

The work was only fair since the sled contained the dog’s food.

Asked what he thought about on such a hike, Hans said the scenery and where a nice spot might be to eat lunch. Asked if any philosophical or spiritual thoughts entered into such treks, he said, simply, “I’m an engineer, remember?”

He was recruited to come to America by a fellow engineer and worked in the Boston area first in electronics (circuit boards) and later in software.

In the world of orienteering, he is a competitor, even taking part in North American Championships.

While he may disagree, he has brought a certain spirit and philosophy to the neighborhood kids here in Camden.

The opening of an igloo in Camden is a tight squeeze. Photo courtesy of Gretchen Kuhn

A completed igloo in Camden. Photo courtesy of Gretchen Kuhn