There's still time to register for the annual Camp Out to End Youth Homelessness

Youth camp out nearing

Locals interested in raising money for at-risk youth can still register for the fourth annual Camp Out to End Youth Homelessness.

The event, set for Friday, Dec. 11, will see participants spend a night out in the cold and sleep on nothing more than a cardboard box. The evening provides people an opportunity to understand the experiences of hidden homelessness that youth face, says Katherine McParland, executive director of A Way Home Kamloops.

"I feel like it's a life-changing experience for many of our past campers," she tells Castanet. "I think a lot of them didn't realize all of the amazing things we have, and it's easy to take housing for granted and having a warm, safe place to sleep. I think it really changes the perspective on what homeless youth experience and creates that responsibility that we as a community all have a role to play to raise the child."

It also helps destigmatize the issue of youth homelessness "because there's that increased awareness and understanding," McParland adds.

The camp out is a major fundraiser for A Way Home Kamloops. This year, staff hope to raise $50,000, money that will go toward the non-profit's programs, which include providing youth with housing, education and employment training. Previous campouts raised money for Safe Suites and funded the youth housing first program (71 individuals were housed in 2019). 

This year, to keep in line with COVID-19 safety protocols, campers won't gather at a park. Rather, they'll be asked to camp out in their own yard or inside their home. Each registrant will get a package, which includes a carboard box and supplies for the evening.

"People can adapt the event to whatever makes sense for them. For example, young families, they may want to camp out in their living room and that's really good because there's some good conversations that could be had with children around homelessness," McParland says.

To date, this year's camp out has raised just over $37,000, with around 35 campers registered so far.

To register as a camper, click here. To become a sponsor, click here.

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