Homeless in Tents?

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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.

hOMELESS

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?

Tent Cities:

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?

Donate Camping Gear

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!

24 thoughts on “Homeless in Tents?

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    Being one of those, who has chosen this RV lifestyle, I want to Thank you for sharing such a powerful post. I think so many ignore what is going on in our society, and misunderstand those who choose to make lemonade out of lemons. Honestly, I have never really considered myself homeless. Maybe some people, may think I am, but I have a permanent roof over my head, and I know that other’s are not that lucky. Maybe that is why I don’t feel homeless. Because even though I don’t have a house waiting for me, savings, or a guarantee of tomorrow. I know that I have a roof, warm bed, and food. That for me, is enough, considering how things could have been for my family. ~> Three years ago, after my husband became disabled, is when we first started living in an Rv. I wasn’t sure id be cut out for this way of life. I had heard about Rv’ing, thought about it as a vacation or retirement, but full-time with kids?! Of course, we have seen why so many love it. It is defiantly a Great lifestyle and we have thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope too cont. to for many years to come :)
    Unfortunately, not everyone has a positive out come, etc. My husband and I, have also seen so many of those abandoned, foreclosed homes in our travels across America. We have often wondered why?! Why are these homes left vacant, when there are so many families in need. Not every family has an RV or enjoys the tent life, or even has a tent. Hopefully, this post has raised some more awareness about the issue.

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      Hi Wendy,

      Thank you so much for stopping in, reading this post, and leaving such a thoughtful comment. In the past two years of blogging, I haven’t had anyone leave a comment of this nature. It warms my heart to know that I was able to reach you enough to tell me so.

      Thank you again. Best wishes to you and your family.

      Happy travels,

      Victoria

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    Victoria, this is a very powerful post, not at all like most of us blog and why not! It is awesome. Thank you for bringing attention to this need. I donate to a local organization who assist homeless men and women anytime I clean out the closets. We are not campers but I will share this idea with my friends who are.
    I did my college internship with Goodwill and spent most of that time working in their homeless program. It was one of the best experiences I had in life that I can look back on and pull life lessons from.

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    We aren’t too far from making this decision. We are holding on to what we have and wondering if we should let it go. It’s sad to think we have worked so hard for what we have and perhaps be on the verge of losing it all. Bad choices, a bad economy – together make a disaster – or the perfect storm. We often talk about buying an rv, and just living in it. This is a story that needed to be told. Too many Americans are unaware that we have tent cities in our our nation.
    I’m going to watch the documentary later, but truly appreciate this story. It has hit home…

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    Now that my son is out of scouting, you’ve given me ideas as to what we can do with our unused camping gear. Thanks!

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    This is a great post. I have been homeless three times, all for short periods of time thankfully. The first time, I lived in my car for 2 weeks with my baby. We found a little motel and they let me work in exchange for staying there. I ended up living there for a few months.

    The next time I was homeless, I lived in a tent. Fortunately it was only for a few weeks, because it was during storm season so it was hell.

    The third – and hopefully last – time I was homeless, I lived in an actual shelter. It was a much better experience, for sure.

    I wish more people thought of homeless folks as actual people rather than scum. Not all of them are drug users, abusers, losers, etc… and it really sucks to see “those looks” from people that should be caring.

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    I have always thought it to be awesome for the people who live in RV’s and drive around the country. It would be such an amazing experience. I have thought about homeless living in tents for a few years now. There are a few off the trail I run on, and I struggle with being scared of those people (which seems irrational) or knowing how I can help. The winter months must be HARD. Every year we donate coats and blankets to shelters, but I think that isn’t even enough. This is a great post!

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    Thank you for bringing attention to this. I saw a documentary on it a few years ago and I wanted to help then. I know some people choose to live like that and they have family that will help but pride and other things get in the way.

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    We live in an rv fulltime and I definitely wouldn’t consider us to be homeless. There are many that would be considered as such though maybe by certain standards but these people that I’ve talked to wouldn’t consider themselves to be homeless either. It’s just a matter of perspective I think. Of course that still doesn’t mean they can’t use donations!

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    I very recently heard about tent cities, but didn’t know there were ways to get these supplies to the people that need them. Thanks so much for letting us know and raising awareness about this issue!

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    What a powerful post. I think God everyday to be blessed to provide for my children. It is great that people are making the best of their situations. We need to understand being content in our situations so we can help out our neighbor. Thank you for raising awareness. Do you have a contact for donations?

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    We haven’t been camping in over 5 years. I just need to donate all of our stuff. Such a great post. I didn’t realize there were Tent cities

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    What a powerful post! I can’t even begin to imagine what a struggle it would be to be homeless and living in a tent. Thanks for raising awareness. I’ll definitely be brainstorming to see what my family can do to make a difference!

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    I have never heard of this. I am going to watch the documentary. So concerning when the months are getting colder

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    We have two very large tent cities near out home, we are always leaving them supplies, taking up donations for them and bringing them food. With a harsh winter on the way I really worry about the folks living in these tent cities.

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    I had no idea there was such a thing as a tent city. I’m kinda embarrassed that I was so unaware of people in that situation. :( I LOVE your idea of donating unused equipment too.

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    Thank you for raising awareness about this issue. I actually saw a tent city not too long ago and did not know what it was until I asked a local resident. Too many times we get caught up in our own lives and forget that there are people who are not as fortunate as we are.

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    I knew about tent cities, but I didn’t realize people where living out of their tents at campgrounds. Wow…

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    Our church has some wonderful opportunities to work with a local elementary school (transitional population of 75%) and inner city youth. It has opened my eyes to the difficulties these families face. I do love your choice to travel and make the best of your family situation. I am quite sure it has been an educational opportunity. Thank you for this post.

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    Wow, I haven’t heard the phrase homeless in tents before. Gives you pause. I kind of thing going “free” in warm months is kind of genius.

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    I wasn’t aware of tent cities. I’m going to try to find the documentary because it sounds interesting. Thanks so much for sharing this info.

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    I had no idea about tent cities. I would really like to check out this documentary! Even though I don’t camp, I’d love to look into donating.

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    Wow, I learned something new. Thank you for bringing tent cities to light. I’m going to find the documentary because it sounds really interesting.

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    I have lived in my tent for two weeks now with my two kittens. …n yes i work but its sales job so not steady so no worries

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