When we started our trip I was clueless to homeless in tents. I had heard of people living in their RV, but never heard of people being homeless and living in tents at a campground. Someone passing through might not notice them at all. But if you have an extended stay in any campground, you start noticing some of the locals don’t pack up at the end of the week.
Who are the homeless?
When talking with one family, taking advantage of warm weather months to tent camp instead allowed them to save thousands of dollars on rent and utility bills. It was something they did several summers in a row – they tossed their belongings into storage and camped for the summer! The kids always looked forward to it and it was how the parents saved for Christmas and after school activities. To be honest, I found this to be genius.
I think being homeless, by choice,was much easier than some of the situations other families were facing. Some weren’t there because they were saving money, they were there because they didn’t have any other option. For them, I felt terrible. I watched them washing their clothing at their campsite hose with cold water. Coming home from work, not to relax, but to build a fire, clean up camp, and create a life within the boundaries of their campsite.
Nearing the end of our trip, I was starting to feel a lot like them. We were borderline stranded, our savings was dwindling quickly, we were nearing the end of our rope. At what point are you no longer traveling, but homeless in a tent? Many fulltime travelers take offense to someone accusing them of being homeless, but honestly, I wonder where the line between traveling and homeless is? How much money do you need to have in the bank to not be considered a homeless person?
When we stopped traveling and returned to our comfortable bed and television set, I watched a documentary on Tent City, Nashville; a tent didn’t make them feel homeless. It provided them with a place of their own, somewhere to store their belongings that was safe, and a feeling of home. If the homeless can’t occupy the empty foreclosed houses all across America, why can’t they live in a tent? Makes perfect sense, correct?
Since watching the documentary, I started a little research on tent cities. There are Tent Cities in almost every state. The majority of them are located near metropolitan cities. Some government agencies are now offering tents to those who do not meet the criteria for immediate housing. This idea is frowned upon by many. Most feel as though they are being given a tent to use but with strong limitations on where they can use them. What if they can’t afford to pay a campground fee? Where are they permitted to go with their new tent?
Tent Camping Isn’t for You?
Did you purchase camping supplies and discover tent camping isn’t for you? That’s okay! There are plenty of places you can donate your camping supplies to:
- Local Homeless Shelter/Church – Ask your church or local homeless shelter if they are accepting used camping supplies as donations.
- Campgrounds – Campground managers know who is homeless and who is passing through. They are also aware of who is in need and who isn’t. Call your local campgrounds and ask if they store items for campers in need. (*RV Resorts are not likely to encounter customers of this nature, therefore, will not accept your donations. Be sure your campground offers ‘tent’ camping before inquiring.)
- Scouts – Scouting groups are always in need of Pack camping supplies. If you are unable to locate a shelter or campground that is in need of your gear, you are sure to find a new home for them with the scouts!