24 hours at Compassion Camp

Kate Santich in the Orlando Sentinel:

Twelve-year-old Trinity Fore was roused too early from sleep by the clanging of a ladle on a pot. She choked down a stale doughnut and water for breakfast and had 30 seconds to grab something to wear from a pile of hand-me-downs. Then, before she had a chance to wash her face or brush her teeth, she was hustled out into the dawn along the streets of Parramore, a homeless man as her guide.

It was what you might call Compassion Camp — a 24-hour immersion experiment this week to help young people understand a life very different from their own. For the rest of that hot, sticky morning, Trinity and 30 of her young friends would have an all-too-vivid taste of homelessness. They would be rebuffed as panhandlers, threatened with arrest by a police officer and shadowed by a drunken man who wanted to enlighten them on various government conspiracies.

By the end, they were hungry, dirty, sleep-deprived and sore from toting around backpacks with 20-pound barbells inside — to simulate the burden of carrying all of their worldly possessions on their backs.

“I didn’t know it was that hard,” Trinity said. “I thought there were people who just wanted to be homeless, and they could change that whenever they wanted. But it’s not like that.”

Past Posts