“We’re getting a porta-potty?” the young camper asked in a high pitch squeal. “Yay!”
I was spending my summer working as a day camp director in an affluent suburb of Dayton, Ohio. Our group of fourth and fifth graders was assigned an area of the camp which included an empty house on the front corner of the property. The brick ranch provided much needed shelter from the hot summer sun but no running water for drinking or a working toilet.
After a week of sending children in a near constant parade to the rec center facilities, it was decided to bring a portable toilet on to the campground and station it a short distance behind the house.
A few days later, as the kids finished up their lunches in the picnic area, I heard a vehicle approaching. The driver pulled up to one of the counselors and me and asked, “Where do you want it?” I pointed in a general direction and he drove past us with our big, blue latrine in tow.
Upon seeing our delivery, a very excited 10-year-old girl ran up and squealed, “We’re getting a porta-potty? Yay!”
I was a bit taken back by her enthusiasm, for sure. Even more surprisingly she asked, “Can I go first? I want to go first! Please, please let me be the first one to use it!”
Looking around I said, “Sure. As soon as he’s done, you can go first.”
The man barely finished his job when she shouted, “I’m going in!” And she darted off. The counselor and I just looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.
Minutes later, the young girl sprang open the door and joyfully shared, “This thing is amazing!”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes!” she said, “And it even has a sink in there!”
“Uh…” I said as I looked around in horror, “That’s not a sink.” I spoke softly as I so desperately didn’t want to embarrass her.
“Yes it is!” she argued, “There’s a small sink on the wall!”
“No…no, it’s not.” I said calmly. The counselor’s eyes were getting bigger as she stared at me with concern.
“Yes it is!” she insisted. “There’s even a bar of soap in the sink!”
“Oh Dear Lord!” I thought. “No”, I said in a slightly panicked voice. “That is not a bar of soap.”
Perplexed, the girl looked down at her hands. Then, as if in slow motion, she brought her hands up while rubbing her palms together and placed her fingertips up against her nostrils. After deeply inhaling, she said, “Yes it is a bar of soap! Here—smell!” And she shoved her boney fingertips up against my nose.