What is it like to tent camp...for months?

Monday, August 30, 2010

2008, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Shoreline
By Patty Price

Did you ever tent camp?  We did a lot of it in campgrounds as our kids were growing up and it was great fun for our entire family. I miss the nightly fires, the trees overhead, the fresh smell. 

But how would you like to camp for two weeks, a month, 3 months behind green barriers back to back with other tenters while you struggled to work to earn enough to live in conventional housing? How would you enjoy a toilet stop in a sani-can? What about sharing a tent with 2-3 others?  What if you could have only enough personal possessions that you could carry yourself?  What if you had to rely on others for your food? These are part of the Tent City people's worries and concerns.

But look at the alternatives…..living under an overpass where you might be attacked or things taken from you.  Having to dig a hole each day to bury your belongings while you go for food or a job.  Not having anyone to help you.  People say, “well, they should go to a mission or place where they can sleep.”  

Sorry my friends, but all the beds in the Seattle area are filled and all have waiting lists.  Thank God for a tent city! With 24 hour security at the entrance and no one  allowed in who doesn’t have an okay. They have a strict code of rules and you don’t get a second chance if you break them.  Everyone living there must participate in weekly meetings and everyone has a job to do.  The figures vary, but at least 25% of those who live there have outside jobs….maybe more at various times.
In talking with a member of Calvin Presbyterian Church, my friend told me that having Tent City 3 was highly successful with a wonderful response from the community.  When they were there in the winter, the church opened up the Fellowship Hall for sleeping as snow had fallen in our part of Seattle. Not a comfortable time to sleep in a tent!  When they asked for 200 cookies for tent City, THEY GOT 2000!  Asking for 15 pounds of potatoes got them 140 lbs!  Another church member said, "It's such a blessing to have them." There were absolutely no negative comments. Are we lucky to live in Shoreline with these kinds of folks!  YES!
If you want to know what you can do to help while this group is part of our community, email Barbara Farden for suggestions. You'll feel good for doing any little bit for others.

Patty Price is a volunteer with the Senior Center Thrift Shop who met up with Tent City when she helped deliver donated clothing from the Senior Center.


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