‘Off-the-grid’ camping experience could come to Rockford in 2021

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A local company is working to turn a 45-acre property located off of U.S. 131 into an “off-the-grid” camping experience.

Founded by brothers Jarred and Stephen Sper and their close friend Kyle Sischo, Detach Primitive’s mission is “not to cultivate but curate the land while keeping the spirit of the wilderness intact.”

The Rockford property’s natural features include two large freshwater springs, a stream that feeds into a 5-acre pond and a forest of evergreen trees. More than 20 acres of the land will be dedicated to outdoor activities for all four seasons, including hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

The main attraction will be the grounds’ 10 lodging sites. The spaces will feature a variety of shelters, including yurts, teepees, treehouses and Smials, or Hobbit Holes, modeled after the homes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and built directly into the topography of the land. Each lodging location was handpicked based on its overall energy and relation to the surrounding environment.

The founders said the experience is designed to be primitive. Visitors will be instructed to pack their own food, lanterns and gear. Firewood will be provided, and wells will be available for pumping clean water.

This absence of modern-day amenities should not be mistaken for a lack of care, the founders said. The lodgings are deliberately designed and meant to offer a “hands-off hospitality.”

“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,” Jarred said. “That’s how we want people to feel.”

The Sper brothers also hope the Detach Primitive experience will allow guests to do just that: detach.

“I want to encourage people to turn off their phone and put it somewhere it’s not easily accessible,” Stephen said. “When you put that barrier in place, it gives yourself permission to be quiet and focus on whatever intentions you bring into the experience.”

The project is pending local approval, with a decision coming Tuesday, but the company has received positive feedback from community members and neighbors.

“It’s not just a lodging area,” Sischo said. “It’s very much an experience for people to come and self-examine and, through that deconstruction, forge new paths for themselves and change their life.”

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