Teens brave cold to experience life of homeless

Camp for Christ shows youth how fortunate they are

HOUSTON - While many people may have tried to avoid going outside Saturday, one group decided to brave the cold temperatures and sleep outside for a good cause.

Nearly 100 youth will spend Saturday night outside of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church with only cardboard boxes as shelter.

"It's really powerful to realize how hard people have it, because we're basically secluded," said senior Caleb Haygood.

During the 'Camp for Christ,' the church's youth group collects items for The Life Center for the Homeless in Houston. They then spend the rest of the day in the elements to experience what the homeless face on a daily basis.

"Things that you wouldn't really think of -- the toilet paper, toothbrush, a pillow to sleep on under your head. You definitely understand the grace you have, how lucky we are to have a home to go home to," said senior Jared Eardley.

The 'Camp for Christ' is an annual event, but this year it fell on a day of record breaking temperatures. In Sugar Land, football fans bundled up to watch a high school play off game. In West Houston, employees said the cold weather seemed to add to the holiday experience of shopping for a Christmas tree.

In Cypress, the cold weather also enhanced the reality of homelessness.

"It's not pleasant, but it's not supposed to be. It's supposed to give the kids an idea of how fortunate we are and how others have to deal with the elements and what we can do to help," said Jeff Dunbar, the church's director of student ministries.

Organizers said the student group has participated in the 'Camp for Christ' for more than 10 years. They said they've dealt with temperatures as low as 28 degrees and even pouring rain, in the past, but this is the first year they can remember cold and wet conditions.

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