Author Topic: Camping in Churches  (Read 4326 times)

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Offline PeanutButterShammyCream

Camping in Churches
« on: March 05, 2018, 04:55:48 am »
How do you go about this? How late are the Churches open? Do most towns have a Church that you can sleep in?

Offline staehpj1

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2018, 07:28:52 am »
How do you go about this? How late are the Churches open? Do most towns have a Church that you can sleep in?
I wouldn't count on sleeping in too many churches.  There are some that are listed on the AC maps and I have stayed in a few of those.  I have also been offered a place to camp on church property when I asked around about a place to camp. I have been invited to stay inside a church when I asked about camping, but that was rare.

Just me but, it kind of crosses a line to ask to stay in a church unless they offer first.  It would be a bit like someone coming up to your door and asking if they can stay in your spare bedroom.  I have been invited to stay with folks a good bit but would never ask to stay in their home.  The same applies to churches in my mind.  If prepared to camp, you might ask about camping and be invited in once in a while.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2018, 08:20:32 am »
It’s hit and miss. If the church is open, walk in and try to find someone to ask. If locked, call the phone number on the sign. Works about 50% of the time. As Pete says, it’s less forward to ask to camp. But if they have a large open space, it’s not too much to ask to throw down a sleeping bag. You need some sort of bathroom access.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2018, 03:44:05 pm »
Agreeing with everyone else.  If there is a parsonage (house next to the church where the minister lives) next to the church, then maybe ask if you can camp on the church grounds.  As mentioned, not sure how bathroom would work.  Today many small churches in small towns do not have a minister living next to the church.  One minister services multiple churches in the area.  They may or may not live in a house next to one of them.  The other churches do not have a minister or anyone else near or at the church building.  Only in bigger towns with thousands of people will a church have a minister dedicated solely to that church alone.  And probably live beside it.  Given the recent murdering at churches in South Carolina and Texas, I would not be surprised or shocked if the minster or other person called the sheriff and had you arrested or escorted out of town for stopping at the church when it is not open on Sunday morning.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 08:39:03 pm by RussSeaton »

Offline Ty0604

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2018, 06:40:56 pm »
I camp at churches on my tours when there's no campgrounds near by. I wouldn't ever ask to stay inside one though. If I really needed to be inside I'd look up WarmShowers host or get a hotel. I never stay more than one night either.

I'm the same way about fire stations. Although I did sleep inside one in Eastern Washington when a nasty wind storm came through. That was at the advice of the firefighter on duty though and was for my own safety.

If you're considering using churches to stay at on tour as your only or primary means I'd highly suggest you reconsider.
Instagram: tyjames0604


Offline Nyimbo

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2018, 07:41:44 pm »
Most of the churches I stayed in were on the ACA maps or were churches mentioned to me by folks come from the opposite direction.  Once in Indiana, I was riding most of the day in very light misty rain.  In the afternoon it changed to heavy rain and after getting soaked and still 1 hour from the campground planned, I passed a church and saw a car parked by the front door.  So I stopped and knocked.  No one answered, so I called the number on the church sign.  The minister was in the back cleaning the storeroom so he came and greeted me.  I told him I was soaked and cold and asked If I could use the rest room to change clothes and then set my tent up behind the church.  He said I was welcome to do so.  After changing he visited for a long while and then I guess when he realized I seemed an honest guy, he said, "Its still raining pretty hard why don't you just get your sleeping bag and pad out and sleep here in the lobby.   
That evening a group of church folks showed up to set up for summer children's camp so I jumped in and helped out with their setup and one of the men invited me to breakfast in the morning.  It turned out to be a nice highlight. 

All that said, I wouldn't make it a habit of asking every church I came by to put me up for the night - but in a pinch It is always ok to ask I think. 

One more thought, I also had good experiences asking similarly with other organizations on those occasions where I couldn't find a campground or park or inexpensive motel and so on.   I stopped at the police station on two occasions and asked where I could put up a tent.  The first time the policeman at the desk got his sergeant but the sergeant said I could put up my tent in the lot across the street.  He said I'll tell all the guys you are there. Only problem was the sprinkler in the yard came on at 2am.

I asked once in a small (no motel) town in Pennsylvania at the Dairy Freeze, where the locals were all sitting outside visiting.  One of the men in the group said sure you can put your tent up in my side yard.  He said I won't even be home tonight but I'll call the neighbors to keep and eye out for you.  Later the neighbor came over and brought me a beer, and invited me over to sit on the porch and visit after I got setup.
It seems that most of the time - most of the people are willing to help as long as you are polite and they feel safe. 

I doubt this would be true however in cities. 

Offline Ty0604

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2018, 09:27:42 pm »
Only problem was the sprinkler in the yard came on at 2am.

That happened to me once. The town gave me permission to camp in their town park. The maintenance crew was suppose to leave the parks electricity on for me and turn the sprinklers off. They left the sprinklers on and turned the power off. Imagine the surprise I got at 11pm when they went off... For 3 hours straight. Terrible night  >:(
Instagram: tyjames0604


Offline fahrrad

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2018, 10:14:36 pm »
  I like camping behind churches, often entering 'churches near me' on google maps when I roll into a small town, though they're usually on the outskirts as you ride in. I never ask and never stay if people are present because it becomes a big ordeal as we all wait for someone in charge to make the decision, followed by visiting time. I choose my site and swoop in at dusk, setting up my tent behind the church itself. I find they almost always have decent lawns (look for sprinkler heads) and there is usually a picnic table or pavilion along with a faucet and even an outside outlet for phone charging. Nine times out of ten I roll out in the morning with nobody the wiser. I've had church members and police pop in on me a few times, with never a problem. Rural churches are empty six nights a week, with rarely a phone number posted anyway, and seem to all have some brush or woods within walking distance for facilities. The same goes for volunteer fire departments- always empty, always a picnic table and faucet out back. Looking for a camping spot right at dusk is often the funnest part of the day; daylight is fading fast and the pressure to find your spot is on. Don't forget schools as a last resort- stay away from the buildings though. Remember, you're on a bicycle, probably the most harmless stranger one could meet.

Offline BeauGray

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2022, 04:37:26 pm »
Unfortunately, many people in difficult situations have to look for a place to spend the night. For such unfortunate, the doors of churches are always open, but the number of such churches is limited. Therefore, it was difficult for you to find an open temple at night because the clergy at night, in most cases, rest. However, if you ever need this help, you can try By saying, "I am a believer", we unite with a community of believers of many millions. All these people become our associates.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2022, 06:43:33 am by BeauGray »

Offline David W Pratt

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Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2022, 07:31:34 pm »
OT, but, nice handle in the OP.  Not 'crunchy' I assume.

Offline froze

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2022, 11:37:32 am »
I asked my pastor this same question this last Sunday, and he said camping on the back part of the churchyard he would be ok with, but not inside the main area, although, the front lobby is always open and if the weather was bad he would be ok for them to come into the lobby and put out their bag and mat on the floor.  He also said he would expect a call to ask permission to camp in the yard or inside the lobby.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Camping in Churches
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2022, 05:00:14 pm »
Just this past October I slept in a tent one night behind a church in the state of Washington. I was cycling. Of all my international bicycle touring, I cannot remember a time when I asked someone if I could sleep inside a church. Somebody did approach me one time and told me it was all right to sleep inside a nearby Church. And that I did. I had also slept behind that same church on another bicycling tour. When it comes to setting up a tent for the night a church ground, depending on where it is of course, is probably a good option.