A “Traveler” Speaks Out

by on February 21, 2010 · 29 comments

in Culture, Homelessness, Ocean Beach, Popular

ocean_beach_pierEditor: The following was originally two comments left by Camper, a young, dread-locked traveler.  We decided to post it – with some editing – as one article.  This, in the midst of some local OB hate mongering – as we have been told that someone is passing out fliers that say “Trolls go home.” Here, then, in his own words, ….

by Camper

So my name is Camper. My side of the story might strike your interest as I may be the first traveler to take the time and let you know where I’m coming from.

I’m from Detroit, Michigan and have been traveling for quite sometime. How long does not matter.  Long enough to go from being that kid that every OB local can’t really stand, the kid in patchwork clothes panhandling for nothing but booze money, to someone who simply cares for his freedom, and wants a lifestyle not created by small group of narrow minded men.

I respect anyone and everyone on this earth simply because we’re in it together…however I always strongly believe that a strong majority of what some elitist traveler kids call yuppies abuse money whilst being miserable – a recipe for an unhappy life in the one that you get. If you’re abusing your money, you’re happy, and you’re not physically removing me from paradise … then you have my respect.

Questions should come because I’m not typing my book that I’ve been writing for the past 3 years in this forum comment, but that’s what it’s all about – “only an experience can show you that there’s no sense in living the american dream”

Yes, there are some kids out here like me who are traveling here for their own liberating reasons, and there’s the few that makes us look bad – we call them scwilly kids (pronounced Sha-will=ee).  When a couple, smelly dreadlocked kids come into town looking to get drunk, I even get bummed knowing how much the locals with hate us this week.

The other day I got called a troll and spit on in an alley probably because I have dreadlocks and was no where near close friends….. I smiled at him and walked away. He called me a troll again so I turned around and asked him what a troll was. He took off his shirt and fitted San Diego hat as if he wanted to harm me and placed both on a grease covered dumpster.  He patted his chest and start ranting about how we ruin his life, and literally almost broke down in tears.  Finally he walked away, leaving his fitted hat on the dumpster – which I later sold for pot.

This is crazy!! OB locals that have something against traveler kids should realize we’re on this earth together and if you can’t see that then that might be the saddest story ever told……

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Danny Morales February 21, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for having the honesty and courage to show your face in the sunlight of the spirit. I’ll stand beside you when the shadow falls and the night creatures go a trollin’


avatar jettyboy February 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm

No one has the right to hassle you, or threaten you because you choose to live your life the way you fit. Not all in OB are against you, just the people who have lost a piece of themselves after making the decision to become money whores. They usually hate their job, and rationalize it by claiming they had to do it to survive. Nobody has to do it. While I understand going to work at a job you hate to feed your family, it was a choice made by the individual. I don’t believe anyone has ever been under the threat of death to work some where they didn’t want to. They get angry that they have become stuck in a position that bums them out, and transfer that anger to anyone they see that has had the fortitude to reject becoming a wage slave. There are people like myself who have worked for years at a job they loved and enjoyed and avoided that kind of anger within. Understand I am speaking in generalizations here and not pointing fingers, it’s just the way I see it from my corner of the universe.
Stay free as long as you wish, and know there are people who don’t judge you without knowing you. Peace.


avatar justmy2cents February 21, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Please don’t judge all OB locals on the actions of a few!! Just as OB locals should not judge all travelers on the actions of a few trouble makers….
Actions speak louder than words for both sides…
” it’s ok to be a character, as long as you have character” in other words wear your hair how you want , wear patchwork clothes no worries…But have integrity in your actions.


avatar hippiereborn February 22, 2010 at 9:00 am

2cents – i am surprised to hear you ask that Camper not judge an entire group of people on the actions of a few. Looking back at many of your comments, thats exactly what you do when describing what you see down at the wall and on the pier. And I dont see anywhere in any of camper’s statement that implies a lack of integrity.

Im having a hard time reading peoples’ responses lately when its obvious they arent reading the posts being commented on.


avatar justmy2cents February 22, 2010 at 9:29 am

You are wrong….in your spare time hippe go back and cite me an example of YOUR judgment of me….I NEVER SAID camper did not have integrity don’t put words in my mouth…get a life and stop with the bait statements i don’t have time for them….
seems like your a know it all in the blog world…you dont know me dont pretend you do…..


avatar hippiereborn February 22, 2010 at 9:51 am

nobody has spent more blog time lambasting the street folks than you, baiting other commenters, and making general statements about large groups of people that represent a narrow view. I hope you attend the OBTC meeting on Wednesday and voice the same opinions there, in public, as you do sitting behind a keyboard. As you say, actions speak louder than words. By getting up in public and speaking out about something you feel is affecting your community, you are doing more than just spewing nonsense on a blog where most people are actually having a dialogue.

Wait – I forgot. You live in La Playa. I guess I’m confused as to why you spend so much time in OB, talking about OB, and on an OB dedicated blog if it is such a disruption to your life seeing a couple travellers hanging out at the bottom of Newport. This community is VERY different from La Playa. Don’t assume that because you live in a sanitized environment that everyone else should, too. OB is unique; I’m thinking that maybe you’re the type of person who doesn’t like the idea of people who are just a little “different”.


avatar justmy2cents February 22, 2010 at 11:34 am

Hippe you are a great example of tolerance, as long as somebody does not disagree with you……
I think you must be a frustrated writter and use this blog to express yourself. As far as lambasting…(humm this simple construction worker had to look that one up in that big fancy book)….I just tell it like it is…..I have spoken to many buisness owners up and down newport they all dislike the travler element….go chat with a few…get back here and list the ones who like the sidewalk being blocked, kids begging, dog shit not picked up etc…… go talk to the travlers who really get pissed at the drunk, drug dealing travlers because they screw up the streeet for all the rest….get yer head outa the sand go get on the street and chat a little you will be enlightned…..your so in a hurry for a ” cause” you ignore the issues…..

You are entilted to your own opinion , But your not entilted to your own Facts…

google ” man on the bench” you will see how a homeless man in point loma lived on the corner for over 15 years….you know why ?? Ahhh you dont care your on a saving mission for homeless unruly kids who bitch about the system and then when they need medical help cant wait to helped by the state…..Well aint that great the money abusing yuppies in some way or shape pay for the medical needs of camper….Hey Camper how bout thanking them for paying taxes so you can get medical.

this is boring same crap over n over …glad the weathers clearing so i can get back to work.


avatar "troll" February 21, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Your right and im not judging anyone.i was speaking of the “troll haters” i’ve said multiple time i respect any and all people just giving you an idea of how far some locals are taking this……..
and they flyers are hillarious we all love them i even posted them online and got alot of interesting feedback
I also wanted to say. Some of these kids out here are really in a bad situation. For instance……Myself I’m currently awaiting brain surgury i have a sinus disease thats causing an infection thats slowly leading to my brain. I’m currently being kept alive on antibiotics that my bodys becoming immune to. I’m struggling to get health insurance and becoming a california resident to even get the surgury that i absolutley must have. Once accepted a surgury date will be set….and thats just me we all have our storys of course i left home for whatever liberating reasons but i never stay in a town this long. Not long enough for anyone to hate me.However dealing with this disease I cannot go anywhere and I cant stand begging for money….. i cant even make enough to get a guitar and earn my money so in my stay here in this small stretch of paradise i hope more people become open there eyes and realize were in to this together…..this isnt a sob story you guys but it might make some people realize that not everyone is about here harrasing people for the next cheap beer….


avatar lane tobias February 22, 2010 at 10:09 am

Camper – if you are having problems with accessing the health care you need, one option is to connect with Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy through Legal Aid. They may or may not be able to help based on your situation, but I would give it a try. The number is (877) 734-3258

I am sorry to hear of your medical condition. I may be able to offer more suggestions for resources – if you are interested, let the OB Rag staff know it is ok to get me your personal email and I will contact you that way.


avatar justmy2cents February 22, 2010 at 7:48 am

i agree totally….to give money to a scwilly is not helping anyone ….
However i am not exactly sure who you refer to in these statements :

” group of narrow minded men” and “yuppies abuse money while being miserable”
please clarify…..


avatar Sandy February 22, 2010 at 7:54 am

As an OB resident I don’t really mind the travelers, backpackers, riff-raff wandering about OB… it gives the place character and I like that. In my (albeit overactive) imagination I always hoped these kids were spending their days reading Dostoyevsky, discussing politics, and living out their anti-establishment dreams. But Camper’s post seems like a sporadic spew of unoriginal thoughts from an uneducated street kid.

Disillusioned in OB,


avatar PSD February 22, 2010 at 9:41 am

If the hat was my size I’d have traded you some herb for it too. Thanks for dropping in on us, guy!


avatar BillRayDrums February 22, 2010 at 11:33 am

I have no quarrel with you travelers. I won’t harass you at all; but too often when I’m walking around with my young kid it is we who are badgered and cajoled into kicking down some cash for your masses. And it’s worse when I’m walking by myself.

Hey, I appreciate your “fuck the man” attitude; many obecians do and we live here for just that reason. It’s an odd community to the “yuppies”, a social group that receives disdain from my person as well.

Here’s my big glitch- the sense of entitlement that many of your fellow “travelers” seem to base their existence upon. I know there’s many of you who come from well-to-do families and are looking to “feel” the gritty reality of humanity. It’s kind of hard to do when you grow up spoiled. And I can identify with that because prior to my parents’ divorce in 1980 when I was 12 years old, the folks were netting about $800k/a year. In Mississippi. Yep, livin’ “high on the hog” was the rule!

And I know that within many of you lives a talented person that may very well change the world with your intellect or contribution, whatever that may be. The abject slackness that your “Scwilly” brethren seem to relish in does not do you any justice and that’s too bad. Maybe there’s a way for you to rise above that.

The dude who sweeps up the sidewalks will ALWAYS get a buck or three from me, because he contributes to the village. The 17 year old girl who sits on the sidewalk and begs change from me (NOT homeless, I asked her) does your cause no justice.

And don’t get me started on the same line I hear from your kind “I don’t have any marketable skills” BULLSHIT. You’re not trying hard enough! My living is begotten from playing drums in bands (something I was told would NEVER occur) and building websites. I went to school for neither; rather my education was gotten from actually extending the effort to finish projects, and because rent is due. If I don’t produce a desirable set of results, I don’t get paid and eventually I end up in a bad place. So that’s something we have in common, Mr. Traveler. You and I are a lot alike, only we “panhandle” differently.

I wish you the best in your journey. For years I was on the road and saw about 25 countries and most of the USA from the perspective of a bus or van or car. Sheltered as it might seem, the paradigm is still the same. Out on your own, lookin’ out for #1. But now my #1 is almost 10 years old and that’s why I stay firmly planted in one place.



avatar Sandy February 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with your comment in regards to giving money to the guy sweeping the sidewalk vice the person just begging for change. I hear Camper say, “we’re all in this together”, but we’re only in it together if we’re both contributing to our village.


avatar BillRayDrums February 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

The phrase “share and share alike” often gets mentioned. But sharing is a quid pro quo affair


avatar Cindi February 22, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Camper–Thank you for sharing your story. I have not seen the “troll” flier, but was saddened to hear that an ignorant, intolerant person who is likely not even from OB, is creating trash, wasting trees and cowardly enough to put something like this out. I am sure whoever did this, will not be at the meeting on Wednesday.

As a resident of OB, I don’t want the character of OB to be changed by the kind of boundaries that breed intolerance and hatred directed at a group of individuals. If we respect each other’s basic HUMAN RIGHTS we become a benchmark for other beach communities in Southern California. There is a reason why there are so many “coexist” stickers on cars in OB. Most of us want less government interaction, and more opportunities to discuss issues in an open forum. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Wednesday’s Town Council meeting is grounded on solutions to work WITH homeless youth, and less on pitchfork-waving hate-mongering directed at a group of individuals who have been living peacefully alongside us for DECADES. Last time I checked, OB is not an EXCLUSIVE community. We have no gates, walls, codes to enter into a squack box, or tariffs to pay to enjoy our beach. I believe in OBceans humanity, and have a feeling OB will STILL be open and friendly to all who travel here 50 yrs from now….


avatar Chris Moore February 23, 2010 at 10:33 am

Camper, don’t worry about that dude.
He was what I call a troll. Someone who starts crap with people.
That, IMO, is a troll.

It is of no consequence to me how you choose to live your life.
You don’t bother me, and I certainly wont bother you. Easy enough.

I don’t give out change, though I will give out a cig or two, occasionally buy a sandwich or something. One kid I bought a blanket for because he was shivering.

As I’ve said before, I have never had any problem with the camper kids here, it’s the tweaker contingent that I have had consistent problems with.

Plenty of whom seem to be locals, not imports.


avatar Tower2 February 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I’ve lived in OB my whole life, except for 5 years at college. OB has been a haven for the homeless for as long as I can remember, and there has been resistance from locals for as long as I can remember. I remeber hearing “troll” as early as Middle School. This is not a new problem, but rather a popular topic.

As everyone seems to realize, our homeless population can’t be lumped into one group. There are young and old, from here and elsewhere, passing through and staying for good. Therefor, there’s no simple solution for the problem.

Some of our homeless are mentally or physically disabled. They are plaugued by schizophrenia, paranoia, severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or other social disorders that prevent them from functioning as normal citizens. This unfortunate group deserves our community’s collective care and treatment. That doesn’t mean throwing them a dollar or buying them a six pack. That means uniting to press our city to spend our tax dollars on expanded local treatment centers.

Some of our homeless are addicted to serious drugs, including methanphetamines. Drugs can be an easy escape, but one pill or hit is all it takes for them to become chemically addicted. Before they can help themselves, they’ve lost sight of their goals and are begging for enough change to buy another fix. One might argue that this type of problem is self-inflicted, but the highly addictive qualities of the drugs are undeniable. This group also deserves our community’s collective care and treatment by way of local treatment centers. OB seems to dislike the police, but a crackdown on the trade of serious drugs would do our community well.

Some homeless are neither insane nor addicted to serious drugs. They are travelers, such as this camper. They come into OB looking to live a alternative lifestlye, walk a different road, and seek freedom from society’s contraints. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with this quest. There is, however, something wrong with how this often translates.

This brand of homeless often sits on the wall, needlessly begs for change, and doesn’t give anything to the community in return. Camper sounds like an intellegent and capable human being. Capable enough, in fact, to write a book. There’s no reason why we should have to shoulder the burden of his existence. We provide these people with water, toilets, public showers (at tower 2), trash pickup, public parks, etc., and they produce nothing in return, with no excuses. Knowingly, they take a free ride on our hard work.

I’m not saying Camper should pour coffee in Starbucks, get a flat, become a manager, get married and raise kids in a house with a white picket fence. I’m simply suggesting that these people need to contribute, and that we need to find a way to let them.

I suggest that as a community, we temporarily employ these folks to work on public projects, on a project-by-project basis. For example, we walk down to the sea wall, and say, “$50 each goes to the first group of you that is willing to shovel the soot out of these firepits” Or, “$3 each to form a line at the pier, and comb the beach for trash from here to the jetty.” These people have shown no desire to work 9-5s, but perhaps they can still assume a helpful role in our community.

Regarding the “shwilly” type, I believe it is our duty to demonstrate that they are not welcome in Ocean Beach. They should be subjected to the same civil laws as any member of the community. For this reason, I appreciate the police presence that keeps them in check.

In conclusion, let the homeless stay in OB. Give care to the mentally and physically disabled. Provide treatment to those with chemical addictions. Crack down on the local drug trade. Give the wanderers an opportunity to contribute. Show the “schwillys” that they’d better behave.
I am unable to attend the town council meeting tonight, but I hope someone reads this, agrees, and shares my view.



avatar hippiereborn February 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm

The only part of your statement that can;’t be substantiated is the bathrooms, water, and shower piece. As a resident of OB with an apt. and a bathroom, I find myself holding it in ALL the time because businesses on Newport, for the most part, won’t let me use their toilets. There are not close to enough public facilities in this neighborhood, and the demolition of the bathrooms at the bottom of Brighton escalate the problem. Many of the merchants on Newport, rightfully, complain that at night people use their doorfronts and alleys as bathrooms. This wouldn’t be a problem if there were more portopotties or public facilities in the area. The fact is, they wouldnt serve just the houseless – but would serve everyone in OB. In the same vein, showers would be used by surfers and beachgoers as well as those who sleep on thestreets. This is a viable solution to one of the major complaints coming out of this issue.

As for local treatment centers, thats way down the road. The vigilance of the people who lack any compassion is too great at the moment, even though thats a logical solution. At this time, it would be best to start with tiny projects that build confidence in bigger ones. We need the entire community to play a role in some way or another.


avatar Tower2 March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am

It seems you have misinterpreted my point regarding public facilities. I do not suggest that OB has ample public facilities. Certainly, more public facilities are desired and would benefit our community.

I mention public facilities, such as the Tower 2 bathrooms and showers, to demonstrate that certain homeless (the type that are mentally, physically, and chemically able), are unjustly comsuming public goods without providing any in return. This is an unfortunate situation, where capable people are free riding our hard work.

Of course, nobody should be forced to work. This is why I suggest we offer these folks temporary jobs for cash, on a project-by-project basis, to improve our community. There is plenty of public work to be done, these people are capable of contributing, but they often don’t have the opportunity to do so without destroying their quest for an alternative lifestyle. Let’s give them that opportunity.

As a side note, my girlfriend (who did not grow up here), had a recent encounter with a “schwilly” type. She was walking down the street with some friends and two guys shouted, “Hey, you girls want to get shi**y drunk and cheat on your boyfriends?” She’s making plans to move out of OB because she can’t walk down the street without some drunk and disrespectful idiots hollaring at her.

It’s a shame that some of these people harass innocent residents while they hypocritically argue to be left alone. Perhaps the local liquor stores could be persuaded to refuse the sale of alcohol to “schwillys” known for causing trouble.

For those who are peaceful, respectful of other people, and willing to contribute at least a small amount to community public works projects, I wholeheartedly welcome you and support you as a brother.


avatar Camper ("troll") February 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Dear sandy,
Real mature.
Thank all of you so much for giving me hope theres human beings still floating along these tense streets of this small stretch of paradise.I love you all.You are my family.WE ARE FAMILY.


avatar Tower2 March 1, 2010 at 10:32 am


I’m very interested in your story, and even more so in your point of view. Do others in your group share your views, or would you consider yourself the minority?

How do you eat? Do you do odd jobs for money, or do you ask people for change?

Do you think the homeless community in OB would be interested in taking part in temporary, one or two-day jobs for cash, that were designed to improve our community? For example, if I went down to the sea wall and offered people $10 dollars each to form a line at the pier and sweep the beach for trash all the way to the jetty, would I have any takers?


avatar OB Cindi March 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Tower2–You pose some good questions, but I recommend you ask the Travelers directly. They can be found under the pier, in the grass area by dog beach, in buses on some of our streets and playing music or selling jewelry along Newport. When the good kids are sitting with the “schwilly” under the pier, I admit, I have to take a second and tell myself to ignore any rude comments before I approach. I remind myself that the homeless are much more afraid of us, then we are of them. They avoid eye contact and appear to be uninterested in what you have to say at first. Be patient. Some will jump at the chance to work for money to buy food and cigarettes. Set expectations up front. Hand them a piece of paper with a map of how to get to the job (most won’t get in your car with you). You might want to include what you want done, date/time and price. Explain how many hours you expect the job to take. When the kids show up, offer them water and a snack. A peanut butter sandwich goes a long way. Respect is a two way road. When I have helped out a Traveler, they have returned the kindness ten fold. I truly believe we get back what we put out to the universe.

Unfortunately our community leaders rarely turn to Travelers to volunteer. Requests for volunteers are posted in newspapers, radio, online and in store fronts. But we need to invite them face-to-face–let them know hey, I am the organizer of this beach cleanup and I need YOUR help. Can you get a dozen Travelers to show up on Saturday at Dog Beach and help us pick cigarette butts out of the sand? Would that not make those who are intolerant of this group lower their walls just a little to be working side by side with someone who turns out, wants a clean community to live in as well?

No govt branch will hire these kids–maybe not even because they don’t want to as much as they can’t. It’s not like you or I hiring them for an afternoon of gardening or helping us paint. In order to earn cash through a govt branch, they have to pay taxes, agree to have a background check run and need an ID. Too many hurdles for too small amount of pay. At the Town Council Meeting I heard a business owner mention that he hires Travelers to work in his businesses and helps them acquire a place to stay. He offers long-term help, which is more enticing to those who are not homeless by choice.

My point is, there are some in the community (not sayiing you are Tower2) who assume that Travelers are lazy good-for-nothings. I have found from personal experience, the opposite to be true. But each of us have the ability to prove our theories correct. So let’s put this social experiment into action!!!


avatar lane tobias March 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm

^ bump.


avatar Sarah March 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm

The coolest thing has happened since that OBTC meeting. I have three new friends who always offer a big smile and a bit of conversation when I run into them on the street.

I’ve been thinking about trying to organize a small, quiet beach cleanup effort with them. I think it would be good for everyone all around.

Will you be our leader?



avatar lane tobias March 2, 2010 at 9:42 am

id be there with bells on


avatar Tower2 March 3, 2010 at 1:47 pm

My reply is below justmy2cents’ comment.


avatar justmy2cents March 2, 2010 at 7:56 am

These type of beach clean up days happen often in Ocean Beach. The community is very alert to keeping the beach clean. If travlers want to be part of the community they they all say then do it for free like everyone else. Why pay them?
Plus if you pay them , then is it a job ? if it’s a job there is liability that comes with that .


avatar Tower2 March 2, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Thank you for your replies, OB Cindi. I agree with everything you’ve said, and I appreciate your support.

Actually, I approached a few guys who were hanging out in a parking garage last night, before I saw your post. I figured, (like you), “Forget this blogging crap. I’m just gonna ask them myself.” I wasn’t ready to temporarily employ them on the spot; I approached them just to guage potential interest. I was encouraged that they were both very interested in helping out for some cash. The face-to-face method you note works extremely well.

I appreciate your personal approach to reach out to these folks. I believe that letting them contribute for some cash is the right way to solve the issue. However, how do you feel about a more global approach? I am thinking about a donation-driven organization that funds larger projects for public benefit. With this approach, perhaps we could reach out to a larger group, tackle bigger projects, do more work in the community, and maybe even help shift local opinion.

I also agree that permanent government employment is not the correct way to solve this. It seems like forms, taxes, background checks, drug tests, etc. would defeat the purpose of our effort, which is to give these people an opportunity to contribute and improve our community. Face-to-face, one- or two-day employment for cash, on a project-by-project basis would be most effective in my opinion.

Regarding justmy2cents, I would like to address your concerns. Certainly, normal employment regulations would hinder our efforts. Actually, I used to work directly with California State employment regulations and policy, and I will be the first to say that they are excessively burdensome. However, I believe that they can be side-stepped if our organization is a type of charity, or community outreach program. I will check the legality of everything, but I believe we’d be mostly exempt.

Next, you suggest that cleaning up our beaches isn’t necessary. I believe you’ve overstated the cleanliness of our beach. Just a week ago, I was bodysurfing and picked up three pieces of trash on my way from the water to the showers. Our community does have volunteer efforts to clean the beaches, but I am sure that any marine biologist or environmentalist would argue that these aren’t enough.

With that aside, please understand that I mentioned the beach cleanup simply as an example. There are plenty of other potential projects that could benefit OB. I’m sure we could all find one to agree on.

Finally, regarding your “why pay them?” comment, I believe in the principle that every person has the right to compensation for work. Some people volunteer to do these activities, which is highly commendable, but no one should be forced to volunteer. In any case, the current scenario isn’t working, and I believe offering very modest amounts of cash to homeless that work for our community would be in our (and their) best interest.

If you have any more concerns or ideas, I would be happy to discuss them. I intend to start this program fairly soon, and any helpful discussions are appreciated.

If you’re interested in helping once I’ve started, stay tuned to the thread.


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