• Zach Paone

This is not a Campsite


This is a tent surrounded by woods and someone is sleeping inside. It’s July so the image is unsurprising; the weather is warm and your social media feed is probably filled with selfies of friends and family happily taking to the woods to sing songs by a campfire and roast s’mores. Maybe you’re even packing up this weekend for a trip yourself.


But this is not a campsite. There is no safe place to light a fire or draw water, no station for toilets and showers. This is a solitary spot where one of our youth has been sleeping all week. He did not drive onto a well-groomed lot, but hauled supplies over himself to prune back the wild vegetation.


Even though it is summer, camps like this exist year-round; and though our hearts strain more urgently at such sights in the winter, homeless youth still face tough elements in the summer, too. This tent is no real shelter from the heat and humidity, and mosquitoes and biting flies will still leave their mark. He fretted over the size of the hole next to his spot, worried about

what kind of creature might already have laid claim to the territory. What really prevents him from getting a full rest is the real fear of human interference. The remoteness of the spot helps him hide, to stay out of the way, but offers him nothing if someone does come around to disturb his peace. How far will help be if something does go wrong?


The person who made this site is one of our youth who is doing everything right. Shortly after becoming homeless, he sought help and is currently waiting for results on several applications. This is no fit place to wait for good news, but he is doing his best to make it work. Because he has no other choice.



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