Or, as an adult, have you ever participated in a retreat where you shared a bunkhouse with a group of other people?
Across the years I've done my share of "retreating" and I've bunked with lots of guys in camp settings.
If you've been there, you know the drill.
Everything responds to the schedule.
In almost every case there is a good bit of sitting and listening to others talk or teach or tell you what to do or think.
Once you're in the camp, you have to abide by the rules, the process and the "mission" of the week or the weekend.
I have to confess, at around day two I've usually had about enough of such experiences!
I like to go to bed, in my own bed, whenever I choose. I like to get up early, have a cup of coffee, read the paper, meditate a bit or whatever I decide I need to do on a particular day.
Hey, I'm into freedom and choice and self-directed living. How about you?
For some reason my summer camp and adult retreat experiences came rushing back to me last week as I thought about what I should say to a local conference on homelessness. I had been asked to speak to the group about "community" and the challenges of homelessness in Dallas.
People wring their hands a lot in this city about why homeless men and women are so "shelter resistant."
My camping, bunkhouse experience tells me the answer to that question is not rocket science!
Homeless shelters are no more an answer to the housing crisis facing our homeless brothers and sisters than are summer camps or adult retreats an answer to the daily challenges facing me as I live my middle class life!
But no one wants to live on someone else's agenda or schedule. No one.
Check me on this, but my favorite time at summer camp or during retreat settings was always "free time." I've never read a retreat or camping evaluation that didn't say something like, "Next year build in more free time!"
Don't ever wonder why people prefer camp grounds under bridges, park benches or down in urban creek beds to shelters. It's all about freedom and maintaining a sense of control over one's life.
Any proposed "solution" to the problem of homelessness that does not major on those indispensable values will fail.
This is why we must build more permanent housing.
The answer to the challenges presented by homelessness is not more shelters, social workers or case management, as important all these resources can be.