From the Wichita Eagle, writer Joe Rodriguez spoke to one of the teens, Aaron Schnieder.
"They're just nice people that something bad happened to," he said.
Schneider learned the lesson as part of a mission project with more than 25 other teenagers from Andover's Hope Community Church.
They spent the week away from their homes, and away from their cell phones and other electronic devices.
They were allowed to bring only what fit into one backpack and $20 each to cover their expenses, including food.
The idea was to make the teens more aware of issues such as poverty and homelessness and provide them the opportunity to do local mission work, a project leader said.
Lacey Gould, event coordinator for the youth at Hope Community Church, said many of the teens didn't even know local people struggled with issues such as homelessness. Many teens, she said, had the perception of homeless as "scary" and "older men."
"I think they realized this week it really could be anybody," she said. "They met a lot of families with children. I think they just started to perceive it differently."