The Campout to End Youth Homelessness was started in 2017 by A Way Home Kamloops Founder Katherine McParland and local business owner Rocky Hunter. They started Campout to shine a light on youth homelessness by raising awareness and funding for programs to support youth.
Youth Homelessness can look like many different things, and can often be classified as hidden homelessness; youth who are homeless can be living in unsafe spaces because that is all they can afford. Youth who are homeless are often couch surfing and going between many different homes.
Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Centre Drummers welcome campers & start Campout 2022 in a good way
The campers at McDonald Park 2022
thanks to Title Sponsors RBC & Enbridge
Supporters from Pizza Now &
Many youth who are homeless have experienced government care. Katherine often called the foster care system the ‘Super Highway to Homelessness’, and with her personal experience she knew well the challenges youth face. Youth often age out of the system without supports, and are left not knowing what to do once they turn 19. Many have had minimal support to gain the Life Skills they need to become independent.
The original goal of Campout 2017 was to raise funds for the Safe Suites Program. That unique supported housing program has now been operational for over 5 years and has provided many youth with a safe home and 24/7 wraparound supports. Since 2017 AWHK has grown and now offers many more units for youth through the Scattered Sites Housing Program, a program focused on Housing First for Youth principles that help young people become independent and move on to their own housing.
Some of the amazing campers at McDonald Park in 2022 - Thank you all!
In 2020 the community experienced the loss of Katherine McParland. Before the passing of Katherine, she had been tirelessly working on plans for a new building with 39 units of low barrier housing for youth at risk of homelessness. In honour of Katherine, Campout began to raise funds for the new building, Katherine’s Place. Every Campout since 2020 has raised funds to see Katherine’s dream of low-barrier housing for youth with 24/7 wraparound supports become a reality. In the summer of 2022 ground was broken in partnership with BC Housing at 562 Tranquille Rd, this would not have been possible without Katherine’s passion, and the support that AWHK has received from everyone who has contributed to Campout.
Just as AWHK has grown, so has the Campout event; in 2017 there were about 20 campers in the Dominoes Pizza parking lot, in 2022 we hosted 50 in person campers at McDonald Park and even more online. In 2020 & 2021 Campout was held virtually to allow for COVID restrictions, which allowed for Campers to get creative. We saw Campers join from parking lots, alleys, cars, store fronts, living rooms, backyards, and on top of Harper Mountain! Now we hold hybrid events that make it possible for people to take part in whatever way works best for them. Here are some of the insights from Campers:
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Lindsay Supeene, Team Kelson:
It was in 2019 that I became aware of A Way Home Kamloops Society. I had the privilege to meet with Katherine McParland and her passion for Ending Homelessness for Youth was awe-inspiring and contagious to say the least. I supported where I could with offering suites and helping the Youth in the program with learning the responsibility of being a resident in a rental apartment.
This past year I had the opportunity to join a large group of people participating in the Campout to End Youth Homelessness 2022. We were lucky that the weather was favorable, and our team came prepared with tents, tarps, lots of blankets, and multiple layers of clothing. The environment at the Campout was positive, filled with passion and purpose. There wasn't a point that I was cold or uncomfortable, in multiple ways it was a luxurious experience. With our gear from home, we were welcomed by AWHKS staff, there were snacks, little fire pits, Medical Aid on site, a warming station and security. Homeless youth do not have all of the items we had at the campout. A lot of youth do not have the sense of security I felt while at the event. It resonated with me that my experience, in the cold isn't a clear picture of what our Youth in Kamloops are experiencing. They are faced with drastic changes in weather, frightening, isolating and dangerous situations on a daily basis. So next year I will likely not bring as many blankets, or my heated socks. I will choose a cardboard box supplied by the event over my luxurious tent. In closing, I will gladly and passionately continue to support A Way Home Kamloops society, and our youth in this community. I appreciate the opportunity to participate, support and share.
Peter Mutrie, Team Kiwanis Club of Kamloops
Many of us live comfortably and don’t understand what it takes to live on the street, to not have a kitchen or a door you can lock. It is hard to be pro-active when you wonder where you will sleep tonight and when you have to guard your belongings at all times.
It is time to grasp that living on the street requires a set of survival skills most of us do not have. Perhaps we can learn to admire how homeless folks can make it on the street when most of us couldn’t. It is time to see talented survivors rather than derelicts. It is time to support political will for addressing the full continuity of care it takes to raise a contributing responsible citizen. It is time to create better outcomes for those who graduate from foster care.
Kristin Simkins, Team RBC
As many as 40,000 youth in Canada could face homelessness this year. One of the many reasons I campout is because of Katherine Mcparland. In 2018, I had the honour of meeting Katherine at an A Way home Volunteer event. Prior to this 2018 engagement, I was not aware of how many youth face homelessness. Katherine’s childhood in care where she faced endless challenges and barriers was no secret. She was able to open a door on an otherwise less discussed topic. Her inspiring story impacted me to want to help.
The last two years RBC employees have taken part in the Campout to end youth homelessness. Raising funds and spending a night in the cold seems minuscule compared to what homeless youth have to endure day in and day out.
While we know this one event can’t change youth homelessness overnight, it reminds us that this crisis has yet to decline. RBC and myself will continue to support A Way Home and our community in ending youth homelessness.