Camp Second Chance
Camp Second Chance is an independent authorized camp in White Center (south Seattle). It was started in 2016 by 24 campers who split off from a larger camp to create a new way of living in community. Six of the original members still remain, and act as camp leaders. The camp is clean and sober, with strictly enforced rules.
For four months, from October 2017 to January 2018, I volunteered at the camp full-time, in the office, helping to revise administrative procedures and recruit public support. I was honored to attend camp meetings (usually closed to outsiders) where policy is made and problems solved. I now have a deep appreciation of how challenging it is to maintain a coherent community under conditions of hardship and trauma. I have tremendous admiration for the dedicated campers who devote their lives to preserving this safe and stable place.
Rainier Popup Kitchen
The Rainier Popup Kitchen is a group of neighbors in south Seattle who make a potluck meal for 75-100 people every Sunday afternoon. They serve on the sidewalk at Rainier Ave. S. underneath the I-90 overpass. They’ve been doing this since March of 2017, when Lucas Hedrick decided he could no longer drive past the huge unauthorized encampment on the “cloverleaf” near the freeway. Lucas bought and handed out 150 McDonalds cheeseburgers, then reached out to his neighbors to start a weekly meal. Even after the encampment was “swept” away during the summer of 2017, people come – sometimes by bus from far away – to eat and visit in an atmosphere of caring and comaraderie.
For me, the greatest thing about being part of this group has been the friends I have found, both among the neighbors and among the people that we serve. There’s something about this group of folks from south Seattle! They are friendly, open, interesting, high-spirited, and capable. Among the people who come to eat are some extraordinary characters – people of deep interest, committed to helping others, ingenious in the ways they have found to survive. We all keep coming back, both for the food, and (it’s not too much to say!) for the love.
Camp United We Stand
Camp United We Stand is an independent camp of around 30 people that moves from church to church in north Seattle and Shoreline. I spent the winter of 2016 with the camp, during brutally cold and wet weather. It was my introduction to the real-world problems faced by people living outside. To combat the freezing cold, I bought heaters and propane fuel (learning along the way that it’s a substantial expense to heat a tent camp!)
I worked with “Brother Christopher,” a camp resident and former oil-field engineer to create prototypes of an 8×12-foot hut built of rigid foam insulation board (which Christopher called “BOBs,” for “Built On Blessings”). The huts were warm, indeed, but not safe against fire, and relatively expensive, so they have not caught on widely. Christopher ultimately moved on to preach his special Gospel in other fields. I am still in touch with many people I met at Camp United We Stand; we were like family, for a time!
Licton Springs Village
Licton Springs Village is the only “low-barrier” camp among the camps sponsored by the City. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol may stay here, even if they are still using. This is the only camp with paid staff, and the only one which is not expected to be self-governing. The camp is managed by LIHI and SHARE, in partnership.
I find the residents of this camp charming, personable, and intelligent, despite the challenges that some of them face. They are humorous and upbeat, most days, interrupted by spells of dark depression, depending on what has happened recently. I serve an oatmeal breakfast every Saturday. The folks tell me they look forward to my visits all week long! Who would not be pleased to hear that?!?
Most recently, the Phinney Neighborhood Association is providing the leftovers from their Hot Meal program, Wednesday at lunchtime. I and another volunteer wrap up the leftovers (which include sandwiches, soup, roasted potatoes, vegetables, and salad) and bring them to Licton Springs. It’s a wonderful lunch!