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Don and Yolanda Thayer

Fresh Beginnings

Boise Couple Restores 1957 Terry Playmate Camper

Story by Erika Heeren

Photos by Emma Thompson

As the Treasure Valley is pulling back the curtain and stepping out into the world after the COVID-19 shutdown, our community is filled with stories of the journeys of our neighbors during this time apart. One such story features a local couple who invested that time into fulfilling a dream.

Don and Yolanda Thayer live and work in the Boise area and love to travel. Yolanda has a business doing hair and makeup for weddings that takes her around the world, so the “on the road” experience is just a part of life. With two grown children and two dogs, the Thayer’s have had always had a goal of exploring in a vintage camper of their very own. They purchased a 1957 Terry Playmate camper in August of 2019, planning to restore the vehicle and continue its history of adventures.

“I just liked the look, the style, and how it has character, and how they made things that really stay alive – going back to 1957. We just want to enjoy it. We fell in love with it, and now we’re even more in love with the way it came out,” Yolanda explained, adding “We’re calling her “La Casita” – our home away from home.”

However, work and life got in the way of the process. They worked on the camper, but there was a great deal of effort needed to bring the Playmate back to its full potential.  Then, the COVID-19 state shutdown happened. Like many other Treasure Valley residents, Don and Yolanda found themselves stuck at home without access to many of the community activities that make Boise great. So, they turned their attention back to the Playmate and got to work. From painting to décor updates, the Thayers lovingly brought the camper back to life. Along the way, Don and Yolanda discovered that even the smallest changes made a huge difference in the character of the Playmate.

“I think just painting everything white to make it look so much bigger, and clean. The color that we bought was a cream, orange/peach color so painting everything made it pop and look so much bigger,” Yolanda explained.

Sitting Inside Camper VanThe restored camper features a more modern rustic feel. Bright and homey details round out the renovation. In addition to the fresh coat of paint and modern backsplash, the Thayers wanted to bring classic touches to the motif. They sourced wood from a 100-year-old local barn, and curtains accented with Don’s late mother’s thread. Every inch of the camper has a history, and the Thayers have incorporated their own additions to the story.

Now that the camper is fully restored, Don and Yolanda are looking forward to experiencing Idaho from the road. They are planning visits to the Sawtooth National Forest area, Sun Valley, Redfish Lake, and Coeur d’Alene. For the Thayers, the transition out of the shutdown is an analogy of the journey they’ve taken with the camper and their future adventures in the Playmate.

With the surge in RV camping adventures as the vacation of choice for local residents, Yolanda has advice following the experience of renovating their dream camper:

“Make it your home, put your personality into it. Make it comfortable enough that when you take it camping, you can enjoy it while you’re in there. And have patience – it took about three months to complete the project. It takes a lot of work but the outcome is amazing.”