Gathering Friends have a passion for golf carts, both as passengers and as drivers. Those who partake of this form of transportation have various motivations. Some need assistance in navigating because of physical challenges. Others take pleasure in rolling around the pastoral campuses rather than exercising in July heat. The carts assist some in making it on time to meetings. And others depend on the carts to move supplies for workshops, or very tired children.
Drivers of golf carts are led to providing their services for a variety of reasons as well. Some Friends consider it as their ministry. One such Friend received a traveling minute from his meeting and asked his riders to sign this minute. Others enjoy the sense of freedom that being behind the wheel affords.
At the Blacksburg Gathering, 58 individuals trained as golf cart drivers. However, the majority of the transporting was carried out by a much smaller group of dedicated souls.
Sending these ministers of mobility out is the responsibility of coordinators and dispatchers at "Golf Cart Central." Much planning goes into this effort, but the success of this ministry depends on volunteer drivers and dispatchers. Some of their experiences this year involved challenges that ranged from the humorous to the outrageous. Of nine carts rented from the university for the general attenders at the ’05 Gathering, four lapsed into silence due to mechanical problems. A lost key was a huge nuisance. Soaking rains were another challenge—even with a roof on a cart, drivers and passengers were drenched.
The Virginia Tech campus was huge, and golf carts were at the mercy of stairs and ongoing construction that necessitated detours. One young lady became confused when her driver was not going the same route that she had walked, and after several attempts to find a route that suited her, she was returned to Golf Cart Central.
One otherwise dedicated driver took a needed cart away on silent Wednesday afternoon to facilitate a tubing excursion.
Small children also presented a problem for dispatchers in that the tiny containers of coffee creamers for drivers proved irresistible to small fingers. Occasionally a child was left to watch television with the presumption that the volunteers at Golf Cart Central were watching him or her. Although the volunteers wanted to tune in to the London bombing situation, they were sometimes at the mercy of cartoons.
In spite of these problems, the golf carts rolled with the punches. The moral of this story is that if carts are available at the next Gathering, hold the volunteers in the light!