The uninformed may think that camp ends when the last student is picked-up in the parking lot, but insiders know that there is at least one grueling task remaining – the vans. Some ministries do the sensible thing and charter a bus to transport their group hither and thither. Not us though. No, our tribe knows that trips can be cheaper for everyone involved if we muster a fleet of vans and SUV’s to take us where we need to go.
Which, of course, seems like a great idea until the predictable break-down occurs. Or the occasional fender-bender. Or having to put my beloved’s fears to rest. These sorts of things are small potatoes though in comparison to the post-camp van clean-up.
Camp isn’t really over until the rental vans have been returned. All vehicles involved have been filled with gas and cleaned inside and out. Any damage inflicted is fixed. And loaner vehicles are returned to their rightful owners.
For most camps, this process is relatively painless. However, this time around, the righting of the vans was particularly arduous. First, the rental van had to be de-junked before it could be returned. That meant that the piles of garbage that had been left on the floor needed to be removed. I would have taken a picture of this unsightly mess, but it might have induced uncontrollable vomiting. As I reflected on what it would have taken to have trashed the van this much, I came to the conclusion that every beverage container, candy wrapper, or snack packaging purchased during the entire week long adventure was cast to the floor of this van with great intentionality. Furthermore, for the filth levels to be what they were, not one item of trash could have been removed from the van at any point during the week long trek. In short, every single item of trash from the entire week was lying on the floor of the van. So after considerable purging, the van needed a little extra TLC and was vacuumed and washed before it was returned to the rental facility.
Another van, the one borrowed from our Fort Smith friends, had suffered a windshield crack during our time in Colorado, so it needed to spend a few hours at the ER to be mended. It also needed a substantial amount of washing and vacuuming. The remaining vehicles fared much better and only needed a standard visit to the local car wash.
However, the task of dealing with the vans was not quite done. After the loaner van had been retrieved, it needed to find its way back it home in Fort Smith. But before it could be driven home, it needed to visit the car wash for the second time in less than 24 hours, because the shiny clean van was seemingly an irresistible target for every bird in a three mile radius needing to relieve its bowels.
The actual return of the van required a coordinated effort since, on our way back up, I would be picking up the vehicle that created the need to procure said loaner. A faithful soul embarked on the half day journey to and from, and finally after two long days, all the vans are finally restored to their owners and in a condition that approximates their pre-trip status.