Spending time in the rustic wilderness (without running water, electricity or wifi) may not seem like a stylish experience, but it turns out disconnecting from the chaos of the world and reconnecting with nature was just the kind of travel trend that editors at Vogue Living* were looking to showcase in their inaugural issue. The magazine featured an unprecedented 27-page article about Detach primitive campground and the story behind the primitive and off-grid destination situated on a 50-acre parcel in Rockford, Michigan.
The back story, inception and birth of Detach is as compelling as its extensive coverage in the internationally recognized lifestyle magazine.
Sara Stout has been walking runways and posing in fashion photo shoots since the age of 17 (representing brands like Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren and Nautica). Yet, she admits the fast-paced lifestyle of a model now comes in third behind being with her family and spending time in nature.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Sara found herself confined to the house – along with two daughters (Avery, 12 and Maya, 8) and her husband, Jarred Sper (U.S. Marine Special Operations Veteran and Michigan craft brewery founder). As the year progressed, each member of the family sought places to escape and find some alone time – to detach. With a massive backyard forest full of trees, trails and terrain, there was plenty of space for each to do so.
They installed a yurt on the property which could be used as a refuge for reading, writing, yoga or just being quiet. During that time, Sara and Jarred reflected back on a dream of turning their land into a unique campground where others could also find a welcoming environment to retreat and to reconnect with nature and ultimately themselves.
Jarred’s brother, Stephen Sper (a director of software engineering and co-founder of Konojel, a non-profit in Guatemala) and Kyle Sischo (a real estate entrepreneur, outdoorsman and primitive camper), joined the team. With time on their hands, and a lot of passion, determination and muscle, they began to formulate a plan to turn their dream into a primitive rustic retreat.
“When the pandemic hit, we were given an opportunity to rethink our lives and how we engage with each other and our surroundings,” Jarred says. “We have been mulling over the concept for Detach for years, but it took a global lockdown for us to bring this idea to fruition. It’s taken on a life of its own now, and while we have done so much in a short period of time, we still have a large canvas before us just waiting to be molded into something much bigger.”
Detach has been outfitted with three authentic hand-painted Sioux style tipis, three 320-square-foot A-frames, a yurt and two original Hobbit Houses – built with haida skirl wavy cedar and tree bark – into the property’s wooded hillside. Each unit is equipped with zero-gravity camp chairs, wood-fired stoves or chimeneas for heat, camping cots with mattresses, hammocks, grill, fire ring, cut/split wood and picnic table. Fresh drinking water can be sourced from two hand pump spring-fed wells. Hand-constructed wooden outhouses feature Michigan’s only commercial incinerator toilets, which are conveniently located close to each cluster of dwellings.
All experience levels are welcome and encouraged at Detach, from new campers to would-be Eagle Scouts. Being open year-round means even the most skilled outdoor enthusiast can enjoy a unique woodland experience, even in the depths of winter. The Detach team is prepared to be as involved in the process as the guest requests, whether that’s helping load in or move out, providing tips on how to start a fire the old-fashioned way or offering suggestions on area activities like biking or hiking along the popular Fred Meijer White Pine Trail, which travels directly through the property.
Those looking for a remote day-use space for corporate retreats or team building will also find Detach a suitable location. Here, it is easy (or easier) to unplug and just live in the moment while engaging one’s senses in the sights, sounds, smells and feels that nature provides. Groups interested in activities like foraging, bird watching, writing, drawing, photography (ask Vogue editors about that) and other recreational, creative and cultural arts will find inspiration in this forested playground. The property will also be utilized as a place where people can gather for seasonal outdoor events, weddings and corporate get-aways, live entertainment and food truck fare.
“We know first-hand how important it is to find time for reflection and quiet meditation, especially in today’s hectic world,” Jarred notes. “As soon as we began to build Detach, even with all the work that was involved, we found ourselves more grounded in our daily lives. Being close to nature, working in it and soaking up the sounds of squirrels chattering or catching a glimpse of a bald eagle perched in a tree, does the soul good. We hope others who visit us here at Detach will find it equally rewarding.”
*The original Vogue magazine was founded in 1892 as a weekly high-society journal for New York City’s elite. Since then, it has gone global with 26 international editions (British Vogue, launched in 1916, was the first). Vogue Netherlands, the Dutch version, is now published by Heart Magazines Netherland under license of Conde Nast Publications. Introduced in March 2012, it currently notes a circulation of about 60,000 monthly print subscribers (104,000 readership) and 380,000 unique online users. Vogue Living, the authoritative voice and senses of refined luxury, defining the best in design, interiors, travel and lifestyle, has been in publication in the United States since 1967. Vogue Living-Netherlands is just the second regionally focused edition (the first being Vogue Living-Australia).
Click here for the English translation of the Vogue-Netherlands article.