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Pathfinder Drill Teams March to Different Beat

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

he temperature hovered near 80 degrees on the afternoon of August 11, but that didn’t stop Donald Fawn of San Antonio, Texas, or the nine uniformed Pathfinders inside a large, steel-framed tent where a marching area had been set up.

Donald, age 17 and an honor student, led the San Antonio, Texas, Fil-Am International Seventh-day Adventist Church Thunderhawks through the basic marching moves, turning left, right, forward, and to the rear, around a 100- by 90-square-foot area. Five judges watched and scored the team on dress, precision, even Donald’s conduct as leader.

Many Pathfinders focus on drill activities as a skill, where others concentrate on completing Honors, said Joel Hutchins, a member of Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, and head of the drill event for the 2009 International Camporee being held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

It’s a competition that “allows teams to perform and demonstrate a skill,” Hutchins said. Scoring, on a 100-point scale, is such that “everyone can get first place,” he added, just as more than one student in a class can earn a grade of A in a subject.

For the Pathfinders who find an affinity for drill, “order and discipline are their gift,” Hutchins noted. Moreover, drill parades offer an opportunity to introduce Christ to onlookers, he said. “There’s the opening: I’ve never been out with a drill team where people haven’t asked, ‘What’s this?’”

It’s expected that 250 teams, ranging from 4 to 54 members, will compete in various categories: August 11 saw competition in basic drill; the next day was expected to find marchers competing in advanced and “fancy freestyle” drills.

Another basic drill team, the Crusaders from the Atlanta, Georgia, Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church, was wildly applauded for their efforts and for incorporating what looked like rather “fancy” steps into their basic routine. Other basic marchers from the Miami, Florida, Central Seventh-day Adventist Church were also well received by the audience.

As to which team the five judges—whose scores are averaged, according to Hutchins, for the final score—found to be the best basic drill squad, that would have to wait. More teams were lining up, and the sun was still warm.

 

 


 
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