A few words from Shelby Schmidt on participating in the Dry Bones experience in Denver, CO with the Round Rock Church of Christ student ministry:
Dry Bones was started in Denver, Colorado around eighteen years ago by a young couple who were vacationing in Colorado. They had met some houseless kids on the street. Over the years they have gone from around four houseless friends to eight thousand houseless friends.
When you come to Dry Bones as a camper, their goal is to make you realize what it is like to be a houseless teen in a big city. You spend the first three days in the mountains, sleeping in tents in the freezing cold. You are served cheap quick meals, you hike around eight miles a day, you have devotionals and free time to rest or hang out, but most importantly you learn how cold it gets at night.
After the few days in the mountains, they take you into the city where you learn what houseless teens have to go through. Dry Bones gives you a turf tour of the city, basically showing you the spots that were used to sleep at and do drugs before Colorado made street camping illegal.
After the tour we set up food on a downtown street and found out what we were doing is illegal in Denver. You are not allowed to hand out food on the streets. You can hold picnics in the park and we also did that on one of the other days we were there. The next day they took us through different scenarios. We spent a few days as though we were homeless. We had to go into places and ask to use the restroom without buying anything and most places turned us away. We were told where services were located but had to navigate the city without a map. We had to ask for more information on services once we found it. We held up signs like “can you give me a smile.” For every smile it was like you earned a dollar and for every time you were ignored it was like losing 2 dollars. We saw many people go out of their way to avoid us even though we were just wanting smiles.
Dry Bones also takes you to hang out with the friends through picnics, bowling and movies. They are all amazingly sweet and adorable. They are people like us, but they have gone through hard times that lead them to this life. There is Joe, our sweet guy with his razor scooter, crying over us giving him a cupcake. Or Blu, who recently lost his leg but has been shown much love and grace. Or even our friend John who couldn’t go into the movie theatre because he had a backpack with his clothes in it. These people are the sweetest people you would ever meet, and many of them don’t realize it. Dry Bones Denver shows these people God’s love and grace. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so glad I didn’t pass it up.