Barrie shelter holding inaugural Backyard Campout for Youth

Youth Haven is the region's only shelter for youth ages 16-24 who are experiencing homelessness

The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped kids who are experiencing homelessness from reaching out to Youth Haven for support.

The staff and residents were uprooted from the Barrie-based shelter in early April and moved to a hotel where it is easier to maintain physical distancing and other health protocols.

Despite financial assistance from various levels of government and donations from groups and individuals, the need for a safe place to sleep, meals, counselling, outreach programs, housing supports and other services provided by Youth Haven continues, and all of that costs money.

The shelter is holding its inaugural Backyard Campout during the August long weekend to raise funds to continue to maintain these services for youth ages 16-24.

“This event is for families and individuals to come together, while apart, to benefit youth who are experiencing homelessness within our community,” said Louise Jones, Director of Fund Development for Youth Haven. “We are asking participants to register online. They can pitch a tent in their backyard or inside their apartment, even venture off to a campground or any location of their choice.”

The registration fee is $50. Participants are also encouraged to raise funds.

“They can camp Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night, or do one night or all three nights,” said Jones. “We want people to post photos and videos to social media with the hashtag #byc4youthaven.”

Napoleon Home Comfort has donated a portable barbecue to be given to the top fundraiser. Other participants could receive campfire roasting sticks.

“This is an opportunity for families to camp together and get off their devices, to sing some campfire songs, have marshmallows, and to think about the youth in our community who don’t have a home to go to.”

Throughout the pandemic, Youth Haven has continued to provide outreach programs to at-risk youth in Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood and South Simcoe. Over 400 youth received some form of assistance from Youth Haven in 2019.

“These are challenging times for everyone. We are grateful for the support from all levels of government and from the community. It does not go unnoticed by our youth. said Lucy Gowers, Youth Haven executive director.

For more information: https://youthhaven.ca/event/backyard-campout-for-youth/