“Wow, this is cool !” My daughter’s 12 year old friend had just stepped into our camper van for the first time.
“You haven’t been in here before, have you ?”, the favourite daughter asked. Overawed and ignoring my daughter’s question, she repeated, with added emphasis: “Wow, this is so, SO cool !!!”
“It’s got a cooker, a fridge and a bed as well“, I piped up. “I bet your dad’s car hasn’t got any of those“.
“… what … a bed … where ??”
“You’re sitting on it. The seat folds down to make a bed“, the favourite daughter explained.
Eager to sustain the friend’s wide-eyed mystery, I contined “yeah, there’s a bed upstairs as well“.
After a slight pause:. “…upstairs ..?”
“You see that hatch there, the roof lifts up and you climb up into the upstairs bed“, said the favourite daughter.
There was a noticeably longer pause this time while the friend processed this new information. It clearly wasn’t what she had been expecting.
She started off tentatively while delivering the killer line: “… so … don’t you … er… get wet … upstairs in bed ..?”
After our uproarious laughter subsided we explained that the van has a solid roof so you don’t get wet while lying in bed. But something was still puzzling the friend. Unperturbed, she continued: “But don’t you get cold in from the sides ?” More laughter. “No, it has canvas like a tent so you’re enclosed“.
We were enjoying this. Trying to string her along some more, the favourite daughter went for it: “Did you know there’s a toilet downstairs. And a shower ?”
“Ha. Very funny. Ha ha“. Game over.
o O o
I have to say that our camper van generates different reactions. Most of my daughter’s friends are similarly impressed (although it’s strange to have one who has seemingly never encountered a camper van).
My son and his pals unanimously think that the van is the coolest thing on earth. I’m regularly requested to “put the roof up” – and sometimes willingly oblige, in spite of my nervousness that they’ll wreck the inside. Cushions and rugs are quickly transferred upstairs to make a camp, the windows are unzipped and there’s soon shouting to their mates from the top bunk.
My daughter, on the other hand, sees things rather differently. Being twelve, peer pressure to conform is incredibly strong. “Why can’t we get a normal car like normal families ?”, she complains. “I don’t want my friends to see me in that thing“. I’m not allowed to drop her off in the van when there’s the slightest possibility that anyone she knows – or wants to impress – can see her stepping out. So having her friend react in the way she did the other night was a great thing for both of us to experience.
My other half and I look knowingly at each other whenever my daughter protests, thinking: “It’s a phase, she’ll grow out of it“. My wife, who grew up in a VW camper-owning family, takes great delight in saying: “VW vans are in your blood now. Just wait ten or twenty years … you’ll have one too“.
Don’t you think this is true ? There are so many in the VW community who grew up with Beetles or camper vans and have this strong affinity today; it’s in their DNA.