Cops Close to This Campground; They Run it!
An unlikely group of owners has taken over the scenic Mary’s Place Campground, formerly known as the Mountain View Campground, located on the eastern end of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, along the Portneuf River. Though they readily admit to knowing less about running a business than nabbing bad guys, their hearts are in the right place.
The members of the Bannock County Deputy Sheriff’s Association have found themselves learning the ropes of operating a 16.9-acre campground, deeded to their philanthropic organization last October by a local couple, Glenn and Mary Perkins, the Idaho State Journal reported.
The deputies intend to reinvest much of the revenue they earn into campground improvements. The rest of their profits will go to support charitable causes, including bringing back a defunct program for troubled youths called Sheriff’s Camp, establishing a scholarship and padding the budget for Shop with a Cop.
The campground has 77 full hookups and is intended for RV camping. It’s fully paid off, and the donation also included an A-frame cabin that serves as the main office and all the necessary groundskeeping equipment. The largest sites can be booked for $45 per night.
The lawn is so well manicured, the deputies say it’s like camping on a golf course. The setting is secluded, located across the bridge accessed by the turn-off to the KOA campground along U.S. Highway 30.
The association has hired a retired sheriff’s deputy and his wife, R.B. and Rosie Scott, to run their business.
“We think it’s going to generate some great revenue,” said Detective Tony Manu, president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
They’ll host their first event — a retreat for association members — this weekend at the campground. They plan to open it for the general public on the weekend before Memorial Day.
Though the majority of the office’s deputies enjoy camping, Manu stressed their visits to the campground won’t always be for pleasure. On their days off, deputies have been heading to the campground to trim branches, mow lawns and pick up litter.
Detective Andy Thomas, a member of the association’s Campground Committee in charge of capital improvements, acknowledges the learning curve has been steep, and the deputies have relied on help wherever it’s been available.
“I can tell you we’ve learned a lot. If people think it’s easy to walk into a business, we’ve got our eyes open,” Thomas said. “None of us have got a business degree, so we’ve been relying on people we know who have businesses.”
For example, Les Schwab Tire Center in Chubbuck donated a bunch of truck rims to serve as fire rings. The BLM and Forest Service have assisted with technical advice.
The association members have chosen a new campground name to recognize their benefactor, Mary Perkins.
“It was known as Mountain View, but everybody in town called it Mary’s Place,” Manu said, explaining the change.
Throughout the years, the deputies grew to know the couple through patrolling the campground.
“We struck up a special relationship,” Thomas said. “They’ve kind of been friends with all of the deputies to the point where when they were in town, they’d come to the office to see us.”
Glenn and Mary Perkins also made the initial donation to help the sheriff’s office get its first police dog in the early 1980s.
Manu is moved by the scope of their latest gift. Under the agreement, the association can’t sell the land. Manu noted the campground is “Mary’s baby” and he said the association is also committed to keeping it as a campground.
He said the campground is beloved by RVers from throughout the country, who are eager to see it open at full capacity once more. In recent years, Glenn and Mary Perkins limited camping to just a handful of visitors at time.
“There aren’t words that can describe it,” Manu said of the gift. “For me personally, it’s almost a responsibility for us to try to carry on their legacy.”
For information on the campground, go to www.marysrvcamp.com.