ALGOMA TOWNSHIP — Jarred Sper is turning 45 acres of his backyard property near Rockford into a rustic off-the-grid camping experience meant to let visitors unplug and connect with nature.
The Detach Primitive concept was founded by Sper and his brother, Stephen Sper, and their close friend and business partner Kyle Sischo. Detach Primitive will be located near U.S. 131 and 14 Mile Road NE.
The plan is to eventually build 10 structures — two hobbit homes, three yurts, three steel A-frame structures, a tipi and a treehouse — that can be rented out by campers. At least four structures should be constructed on the property by May 2021, said Jarred Sper, who is the former co-founder of Perrin Brewing Co.
“If we can take a break for a few days from technology and being glued to screens and see what type of difference that makes with our experience, mental health and quality of life, we want people to come out here and unplug, unwind and have quality space to spend by yourself or with a loved one,” Sper said.
Sper and his business partners originally planned to create the Detach Primitive camping experience in a few years, but accelerated the business plan because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Living in isolation and under lockdown orders has made more people realize the importance of access to nature and green space, Sper said.
“There is a collective realization from people that don’t currently have access to a lot of green spaces who are going to be wanting to experience that,” Sper said. “This hopefully will be one of those places where they can experience that. And because of the accessibility you don’t have to go to the middle of nowhere. This is something people will gravitate toward.”
The plan is to keep Detach Primitive open year-round and include spaces with lockers where guests hopefully stash their cell phones during their stay, Sper said.
The camping site will be accessible from a 15-car parking lot off a dirt road, and campers will have to hike their gear down a half- or quarter-mile trail to their campsite. Firewood will be provided and wells are available for guests to access water.
The rustic nature of the project doesn’t require utility hook-ups, and showers won’t be provided. However, the site does include $5,000 toilets that don’t require a septic or water connection, Sper said.
The Algoma Township Planning Commission has approved a special land use permit for the project, which is slated to be considered by the township board on Dec. 15.
“These things we are bringing to the project don’t use power and are completely off-grid so there are not as many regulations as you usually have to go through,” Sper said.
Sper is planning to dedicate about 18 acres to different recreational activities for campers. Natural features on Detach Primitive include two freshwater streams, a stream that feeds into a five-acre pond, mature evergreens throughout the site, and the White Pine trail that borders part of the campsite.
“When you walk into a space you can tell if it was done in a deliberate way and if the people who take care of the place take pride in it,” Sper said. “That’s how we want people to feel.”