Oshkosh Day One: Setup Occupies
Camporee Attendees

BY MARK A. KELLNER, news editor, reporting from Oshkosh, Wisconsin

cross the fields adjacent to Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, some 90 miles north of Milwaukee, there was a mass movement of humanity. On August 10 some 20,000 young people—a little more than half of the 35,000 Seventh-day Adventist Pathfinders due to attend the 2009 Courage to Stand International Camporee—were believed to have checked in; the balance will arrive Tuesday, August 11, said Ron Whitehead, executive director of the event.

The first young delegates to arrive came from Germany, followed by Pathfinders from the East African nation of Kenya, and then a delegation from Italy, Whitehead reported.

“I don’t think there’s a larger Seventh-day Adventist five-day gathering than this one,” he told Adventist Review in an interview. He said the bulk of attendees “have been preparing for this for years,” and would “attend at their own expense.”

It took a total of seven days to set up the camp, Whitehead said. The main stage, where nightly presentations offering a historical and gospel-oriented message based on the book of Esther are to be staged, arrived on five tractor-trailer trucks; another three trucks of equal size carried other supplies for the event, he added.

On Sabbath, or Saturday, August 15, it’s expected that 40,000 bottles of water will be distributed to delegates who by then will have camped using thousands of tents, an estimated 100 portable toilets, 1,000 portable showers, and generated tons of trash daily. For the first time in this every-five-year event for Adventist young people, there will also be an emphasis on recycling.

The event also requires 4,000 chairs and 1,500 folding tables for young people to use in learning “Honors,” similar to the merit badges of non-Adventist scouting programs. Though using only a fraction of the land at Wittman, the camporee’s size is not inconsequential: from the last tent to the farthest point in the event, participants would have to walk about one mile.

Whitehead said that “it takes 1,000 volunteers to run the ‘city’ we have here,” not including the local and area Pathfinder directors coming from every corner of the United States and many parts of the world.

As youngsters arrived hanging out of bus, camper, and car windows, waving at friends old and new, while others were setting up tents and activities, sporadic rains passed though. Weather forecasters predict sunny skies and moderately warm temperatures for the rest of the week, however.



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