I'm generally an upbeat person, and I couldn't let the previous post sit there and be a downer all by itself for too long. So, I thought since I have nothing new to add, I'll add something old. I'm not sure if I have shared this story before on the blog and I didn't want to rummage through all of the archives and check, so I figured I'd go ahead and share it. Besides, I've probably added a few new readers since then. They might appreciate it, too.
Before I begin, this story involves a couple bodily functions and is NOT for the weak of stomach. I should know.
Also, it is a bit long. So you might need to read it when you have sufficient time. With your feet propped up and a cup of your favorite beverage handy. I hope you enjoy!
It was my very last summer at church camp. It was following my year as a youth director which didn't go the way I had planned, and camp acted as a safety net catching me before I plummeted into the depths of despair. This particular week was a 4th and 5th grade mini-session with only two overnights.
The day of their arrival went off without a hitch. They were good kids who got along very well, and I enjoyed spending time with them. The weather was even perfect and so we slept with our tent flaps wide open so we could get a nice breeze. That's when things started to go downhill.
I woke up the next morning feeling groggy but pretty good. Then it hit me. There was an odd odor hanging about the tent, and in my grogginess I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly what it was. But since the tent flaps were open and there was a nice breeze coming through, I chalked it up to something outside of the tent. I didn't want it to be something that would end up being my problem, so I ignored it. If it was something I needed to do something about, I was sure someone would let me know. So I quietly got up and trudged over to the showerhouse and got ready for the morning.
On my way back to the tent, the wake up bell started to ring. Most of my kids were already moving around so I stood outside the tent and encouraged them to get ready quickly. We needed to be over for morning worship fairly quickly. The boys had no problem getting ready. I was pretty sure this was going to be a good couple of days.
Well, we were one of the last groups to get to the worship site, and so we were a bit spread out. I think I sat by one or two of my boys, but the others had to sit on different benches. Worship went well, and by this point, since no one had said anything, the unidentified odor had quickly been forgotten. Until after worship.
As we walked over to the lodge for breakfast, another counselor came up to me. "We need to talk." This was not going to be good. "Joanna [another counselor] was sitting by your camper, Bobby, and she thinks he had an accident."
"Oh, really?" I asked, naively. "What do you mean?"
"He smells like poop."
I stopped dead in my tracks. "Are you serious? You're kidding me. You can't be serious. Are you serious?"
"That's what she said,"
I couldn't believe this. I had only heard one other story in all of my years as a camp counselor of a camper who had pooped his pants. Only one other story. Of course, this other story happened to me, too. But one camper in four summers was an okay record. Why did this camper feel the need to double that?
We walked into breakfast and I quickly sought out the site manager. I was hoping that she would say something spectacular, such as: "He pooped his pants? Don't worry about it! We'll handle it! You just go have fun!"
That didn't happen. Her response was more like, "That sucks." Of course, it was followed by, "Well, you'll need to ask him, just to make sure. But be sure that he knows he's not in trouble and you just want to help him out and get his stuff cleaned up. Make sure that the other campers are nowhere around, and if he needs to get cleaned up make sure you let people know to keep their kids away from the showerhouse."
Okay. I could do this. After breakfast as we were gathering our kids on the front deck, I called to Bobby before he went outside. "Hey, Bobby! Come here!"
He walked over to, a bit unsure. "Yes?"
"I need to know something. It's not a big deal, and you're not in trouble, but did you have an accident?"
"Why?" Right then I knew he had. If it had just been a case of bad gas, and not that he actually dropped a bomb, he'd have said no right away. His hesitation answered the question for me.
"It's not a big deal, really. We just need to know so that we can get you or your stuff cleaned up. So did you have an accident?"
Okay. Truthfully, I was getting a bit frustrated at this point, mainly because I wanted the whole interchange to be over with. I wanted this whole experience to be over with. So, I continued, "What do you mean, maybe? There's really no maybe involved. Either you had an accident or you didn't have an accident. It's no big deal either way. We just need to know so we can help you out. So, did you?"
"That's fine. Let me tell Jen [my co-counselor] to take the other kids to our first activity and we'll go get your stuff and get you fixed up. Okay?" So with that we sent the kids with the other counselor, I grabbed a small garbage bag, and we headed down to our tent. "Okay Bobby," I said. "Just put your dirty clothes in here, grab your shower stuff and let's go." I held out the bag as he dug his clothes out of his laundry sack and put them in. I twisted it shut and held it at arms length as I led him to the showerhouse. "Start to get cleaned up in there and I'll be back in a second to make sure you're doing okay." He agreed and so I trudged up the hill, still holding the bag as far away from me as possible, towards the lodge.
I walked into the lodge and into the laundry room, where two other staff were getting supplies to help their kids clean the restrooms. "You guys will not believe what happened," I said to them as I put a pair of rubber gloves on. "I had a camper poop his pants." I set the washing machine and poured in the detergent and then I carefully opened the bag and using only the tips of my forefinger and thumb pulled out the first article of clothing, the shorts. Nothing. Only the underwear was left. I reached in and pulled it out. Nothing. I was very perplexed. "Don't you think," I said, turning to the other counselors, "That if he had an accident there would at least be a stain on his underwear?"
"You'd think." Came the reply.
"Yeah, there's nothing. Oh well." Feeling relieved that there had been a misunderstanding, and happy that I didn't have to deal with fecal matter, I tossed the clothes in the washing machine just for fun. Then I walked back down to the showerhouse.
I remember bouncing light-heartedly down the hill, relieved that it had been a huge misunderstanding, only to stop dead in my tracks.**Note: For those with weak stomachs, it might serve you well to skip down until you see the next note like this one.**
I could not believe what I saw. There was Bobby, naked from the waist down. The insides of his legs were covered in poop. He had gotten some poop on his feet. There was some on the showerhouse floor. Somehow, some poop had gotten on his hand and he was holding it out in front of him. Later on I felt sorry for the boy. Initially, however, I wanted to keep that poop as far away from me as possible. "What are you doing?" I blurted. "You should be in the shower!"
"There's a wasp in the shower stall."
"There are two shower stalls, aren't there? Use the other one. Get in there! Now!" Bobby quickly rushed back to the other shower stall. I turned quickly and marched back up the hill. I stormed into the laundry room and slammed the button back into the washing machine, stopping the load. I turned and looked at the other two counselors. "THOSE WEREN'T EVEN THE RIGHT CLOTHES!" I bellowed as I unrolled another small garbage sack and, this time, put two pairs of rubber gloves on my hands. I stormed back out of the laundry room and back down the hill, only to see Bobby, completely naked this time, standing in the doorway. Upon seeing me he rushed back into the shower. "Seriously, Bobby," I said, attempting to retain some sort of calm and reassuring tone in my voice, although I'm pretty sure I was failing miserably. "You need to get in there and get cleaned up so we can get you back with the rest of the kids." I delicately picked up his clothes and placed them in the garbage sack and twisted it tightly shut. Holding it at arm's length I rushed back up to the laundry room.
Now only the female counselor was in the laundry room. I stood there for a moment, holding the bag out in front of me, with no real idea of what I needed to do next. "You know," the other counselor said, "You are going to need to scrub the underwear so that they don't stain." I'm not sure if she was serious, or just teasing me, but I turned to her and looked at her like she was crazy. I opened the lid to the washing machine and slowly let the garbage untwist itself open. I gingerly reached in and pulled out the t-shirt and placed it into the washing machine. Next, I pulled out his shorts and placed them in. Now the only thing left was the underwear.
On the floor of the laundry room was a square basin-type-thing where we filled up our mop buckets. I walked over to it with the bag and slowly pulled the underwear out. It was much heavier than underwear should be. Taking the underwear out of the bag I flipped it inside out and a large piece of poop plopped down into the basin. I gagged.
I stood there, holding the poopy underwear, and remembering what the other counselor had said about scrubbing it to prevent a stain. I looked at the underwear, then at the other counselor, then at the washing machine and back to the underwear. "Screw that!" I said, tossing the underwear into the washing machine and adding a lot more, possibly too much, detergent. For good measure I dumped in some other kind of cleaning solution that was on the shelf, which was said to be strong enough to kill the AIDS virus. I dumped plenty of that in for good measure. Then I closed the lid and sighed.
The only thing left was taking care of the poop that was left in the basin. I stood there, not wanting to deal with it, but knowing that I had to. I looked down at it and let loose with a horrific gag. The other counselor (who a long time ago had the sense to close the door to the laundry room) started fumbling with a garbage sack. "Mark!" she shouted. "You are NOT allowed to puke until I get this bag open!" I let loose with a couple more gags before she got the bag open, at which point she shoved it into my hands.
I looked at the bag in my hands and then back down at the poop. Deciding that it was now or never I placed the garbage sack down on top of the washing machine, grabbed a dryer sheet to cover my mouth and nose and then quickly reached for the poop. But I stopped before I got to it. I quickly dropped the dryer sheet and lunged back to the washing machine. I grabbed the garbage sack, held it open, and began vomiting.
At this point, the door to the laundry room opened and Scott, the male counselor who had been in there before, took a step into the room. Now, the dryer had been going this whole time, so it was very hot in the room. I think Scott was overwhelmed by the heat, the smell of poop, and the sight and sound of me wretching, so he stopped dead in his tracks and exclaimed, "OH MY GOD!" Now, Scott was not alone. He had been followed by his throng of bathroom cleaning campers. Scott's exclamation piqued their curiousity of just what was occuring in the room, and so they began trying to get around Scott to see inside and shouting things like, "What's going on in there?" and "What is it?" Scott turned around, held out his arms and herded the group of campers away from the door and closed it behind him.
By this time I had stopped puking, and so I tied the garbage sack shut and placed it on the floor. Now that there were no more traces of breakfast left in my stomach, I felt it was safe to try to rid the laundry room of the piece of poop that was sitting in the basin. I grabbed the empty garbage sack and without thinking ran over to the basin, stooped down, picked up the piece of poop and dropped it in the garbage sack. Then, I needed to get rid of every trace of poop that I could see, starting with my rubber gloves.
In retrospect, it probably would have been good to rinse off the rubber gloves before taking them off. But in my haste to get rid of the poop I was not thinking straight and as I tried to take one of the rubber gloves off I ended up smearing poop on my left arm. I shrieked. Loudly. Finally, I got the rubber gloves off and then I began spraying my arms and hands with scalding hot water. I furiously scrubbed myself with any available cleaning fluid that was within reach. After I had sufficiently scoured and scalded my arms and hands, I finished off by spraying them down with bleach water. Just to be safe. The lovely female counselor, who had been there through the whole ordeal, kindly said to me that I had been through enough and she would dispose of the poop and vomit bags for me. I thanked her from the bottom of my heart.**Note: Now is a good time for the weak of stomach to return to the story!!**
So the poop was gone. The clothes were in the laundry. My arms had been thoroughly and repeatedly cleansed. The only thing left to do now was to go back down to the showerhouse and make sure Bobby was clean. So I began the walk, once again, down the hill. When I arrived the freshly showered Bobby was standing in the bathroom wearing a t-shirt and his towel. "All clean?" I asked.
"Yes." Bobby said. Now he didn't sound completely convincing, but I wasn't about to say or do anything that would prolong this experience for either of us.
"Well, then let's go back to the tent and you can finish getting dressed."
"All my clothes are in the laundry." Bobby said. It seems that since it was a mini-session he had only packed a couple of outfits, because his parents didn't foresee that he would poop his pants. So, now after this first trauma, poor Bobby was left without pants. After a lost and found search, and after Bobby sat in a towel in the tent for some time, we finally found a pair of shorts that fit, but that were still extremely huge on him. So the rest of the day, until his clothes were dry, he had to run around in a pair of shorts that nearly went to his ankles.
In perfect "Let's torment Mark" fashion, however, for the rest of that mini-session other counselors would come up to me and whisper, "Did Bobby poop his pants again? Maybe you should go ask him!" I chose not to, however, because I figured even if he had pooped his pants, that after that traumatic experience he wouldn't admit it to me, anyway. And it was probably better for both of us if he didn't!