Driving Experience

This summer I’ve driven at least 9 different vehicles. 3 trucks, 2 vans, and 4 cars. 4 owned by the Cullers family in some way, 3 owned by Highland and 2 owned by other Highland employees. 4 of which had cruise control (2 of which I used it on), 2 were stick-shift. I also drove a trailer for the first time, and went 4-wheel driving on several occasions in the two trucks that were 4×4-capable.

Mark’s car I drove very briefly, and found it to be very heavy steering for such a small car. It was also jerky idling. Other than that it was problem-free, despite it’s reputation for poor performance. It was a Ford Mondeo, I believe.

The blue camp truck was a stick shift, and a rather menacing one at that. A 1987 Ford F-150 (2-wheel drive, long wheelbase), I drove it on a couple of occasions around camp, and then out on the trash run. It was evil to begin with, but after driving Randy’s truck as well, the skills applied back and forth. The clutch was a long way out, and near the end I stalled it multiple times trying to find it. It also had cruise control buttons on the steering wheel, though I never got it to work.

The red camp truck was awesome, a 1997 Chevy 2500 with 4×4 and automatic transmission. It was this that I towed the trailer with, as well as 4-wheel driving some. Being a camp truck, something had to be wrong with it somehow. I can think of 2 things, the first being part of the connection for the electric brakes didn’t work (though that may have been trailer-side), and 4-Low didn’t engage, and if you could get it to, it didn’t engage the 4-wheel drive. Cruise control didn’t engage below 25mph, but it proved useful on the trash run when we got it out onto the long 55mph stretch.

Randy’s truck was also a stick, but not quite so menacing. A 1983 Ford F-150 (4-wheel drive, short wheelbase), I used it to commute to camp a couple of times. I took it up the 4-wheel drive track a couple of times when needed, and it performed really well. The clutch is a lot closer to the floor, and I don’t stall it nearly as much. It’s also the Gilbert-mobile until we buy a new car.

I also drove Gordy’s car (maintenance guy at Highland) when the other vehicles were in use. A Toyota Tercel wagon, it did the job assigned.

I drove our 1999 Ford Escort until it died last week (see last post).

I drove the green camp van on one occasion during the last week, when I needed to go to the tab and pick up some large items and the two trucks were in use. Didn’t really drive it long enough to get a feel for it, but it seemed nice enough. It was a Dodge or a Chrysler.. not sure which.

I also drove the Culler’s van to Harrisonburg and back tonight to drop off Marsha for discussion group, and got to use the cruise control – much fun. Pretty sure it is a Dodge..?

Lastly is the ’91 Chevy Corsica, Matt’s car now (was Randy’s long-time vehicle until he bought the Explorer). Not much to say for it, it does its job well enough. I’ve driven it several times, mostly to Harrisonburg and back for various things.

This is a much unneeded rundown of the vehicles I’ve driven this summer, but I felt like posting something.

What have I learned from these vehicles? Several things.

  1. 4-wheel driving is fun. Vehicle doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of fun-factor – it’s more about the driver.
  2. Vans aren’t as bad as some people make them out to be.
  3. Stick-shift in trucks, while not awesome, aren’t really all that bad – they just take a little getting used-to and some practice.
  4. Cruise control is also really awesome. I look forward to inter-stating with it, rather than 8-hour drives to OBX in a vehicle without it 🙁
  5. Driving with the park brake on is not advisable.
  6. Check you know how to engage 4×4 before setting out. Some older 4×4’s require the hubs to be locked 😉
  7. Driving with a trailer is pretty easy. Backing with a trailer is slightly harder than normal. I was able to turn the consist 180 degrees in a space about 6′ wider than the truck and trailer in about 5 points.
  8. Always consider that other people with different habits may have driven the vehicle before you. Check the park brake’s position, and that it isn’t in gear, for example, before beginning your normal routines.
  9. Listen to those who have driven the vehicle before and know it’s quirks. Especially when you’re learning about a vehicle. This happened twice for me, once in the blue camp truck (stalled several times with Gordy beside me trying to help me hill-start it), and once in Randy’s truck, when Randy was explaining the intricacies of starting and driving a carburetor-driven vehicle.
  10. Find out where the keys are before you set out. It saves a lot of time in getting to the vehicle, not being able to find the keys, only to find out that a) the owner still has them, or b) they’re in an obscure hiding place that you didn’t think to check.

Enjoy my experiences. Or ignore them. Whichever.

Highland Retreat Staff Assistance Program

Hello all,

If you read regularly or know me well then you’re probably aware I don’t ask for things much, especially when I understand so many others are struggling right now, in other ways as well, but financially especially.

I’m waiting for confirmation (final paperwork was sent in yesterday, expecting a decision next week probably), but I’m expecting to be working at Highland Retreat over the summer, a non-profit camp focused at children and young people. I’ll be making somewhere in the vicinity of $20 a day, for around 22 hours work (a day) – because apparently when I’m sleeping it counts as work (in the same room as campers, and they’re still my responsibility).

They’ve suggested, and this is what this post is about, that I spread the word and try to gain further financial support beyond what they are able to provide themselves. Below is a copy of their suggested letter, and I’ll attach links to images of the original sample letter and the form provided on the back thereof.

Highland Retreat is a non-profit Mennonite camp located near Bergton, Virginia. Summer staff members often give up the possibility of better-paying jobs in order to minister in service to the youth who attend summer camp at Highland. Full-time summer staff work at Highland for 9 weeks and receive from $70­ – $130 per week, plus meals and lodging, for their service. These committed young people give their summer to help share their faith in the natural setting of camp.

In order to help make this ministry a financial possibility for those staff willing to serve, Highland has initiated the Staff Assistance Program. You are invited to help meet the financial needs of those serving at Highland through your support, thus allowing them to commit their gifts and energies in summer ministry. There are three ways you can contribute to this program.

1. Make a contribution to Highland Retreat and designate it for the Staff Assistance fund without naming a specific beneficiary. Such contributions will be used at the desecration of the camp leadership in assisting individuals who need help. Such a contribution is fully tax deductible.

2. Make a contribution to Highland Retreat and designate that it to be directed to a specific summer staff individual. Such contributions are not tax deductible.

(When funds given according to options 1 & 2 above are dispersed, payroll taxes apply both to the individual and to Highland Retreat. . Consequently the individual actually receives slightly less than you give.)

3. You can also make a gift directly to the summer staff individual. In this case the gift is not tax deductible but no taxes are withheld and the individual receives the full amount. Such a contribution should be sent to Highland Retreat Staff Assistance Fund but the check should be written to the designated staff person.

We will hold the check until the term of service is complete then pass it on to the individual.

Option three is the most efficient if you want to designate a specific beneficiary because it is a gift and is not reported on a person’s W-2. However if your contribution will allow the individual to receive matching funds from a Mennonite college or University you must use Option 2 because the contribution can only be matched by the college if it comes from Highland Retreat. The beneficiary of your gift should inform you if they qualify for matching funds.

Contributions can be made any time up until the individual completes his/her term of service. You will receive a receipt for your contribution when it is made. Upon completion of the individual’s term the support will be forward, either to the individual or to the institution as requested by the individual. If the person does not complete their term of service as agreed upon, your contribution will be returned to you, or we will consult you about an alternative.

Please prayerfully consider what you can do to help these young men and women share Christ with our youth.

For reference, I am not eligible for a college matching grant (as far as I am aware).

Here is the letter and form as promised! They’re PDF files so you may need Acrobat Reader to view them.

The Letter and The Form.

Your assistance is appreciated, thank you.