Pathfinder Honors, Off-site Fun
Come Quickly at Oshkosh
BY MARK A. KELLNER, news editor, reporting from Oshkosh, Wisconsin
welve-year-old Mufaro Pazrakawambwa, a Seventh-day Adventist Pathfinder from Harare, Zimbabwe, was standing in line at an outdoor activity, an ersatz form of sumo wrestling in which the kids wear huge inflatable suits, but his mind was on earning some Honors—Sign Language, flowers, and hiking among them.
“I hope to complete four or five honors while I am here,” Mufaro said. His goal is similar to that of many, if not most, of the 35,000 Seventh-day Adventist youth at the 2009 International Camporee, which concludes on the evening of August 15. Some 121 different Honors, if not more, are being offered here. Sign up, take a class, successfully complete a test and, in most cases, you can earn your Honor.
Don Gilbert, a retired treasurer of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, estimates that 3,500 Pathfinders will go through the Adventist Heritage exhibit in Hangar D at Wittman Regional Airport. If they successfully answer questions on a written exam, they’ll be more than halfway toward an honor in Adventist Heritage, though the rest will have to be completed at home.
Ariana Davis, a 13-year-old from Virginia Beach, Virginia, was working on completing her scrapbooking honor, one of six she hopes to finish here.
“It’s better to do it here; you are around other people and you are learning more,” she said when asked about the advantage of completing Honors in Oshkosh. “You meet people from different cultures all over the world here,” she added.
One of those shepherding the kids was Alvina Cook of Albertville, Minnesota. While helping to sign up kids for the scrapbooking class, Cook was greeted by seven Brazilian Pathfinders who did not speak English.
Providentially, she said, another club from Texas has seven kids who could communicate with the Brazilians; both groups arranged to meet and do the class together.
Why did Cook and her husband give up a week to travel here at their own expense? “We like kids and really want everyone to have the best experience they can,” she said.
Along with subjects such as sailing, hiking, and scrapbooking, more serious topics are covered. About a dozen kids were spotted in a class on geocaching, which utilizes Global Positioning System, or GPS, devices to engage in a high-tech version of hide-and-seek. It’s also a relatively new Pathfinder honor.
Another 350 kids are expected to complete a two-hour honor in nursing, said Leslie de Fluiter, a 27-year-old instructor at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. She said sign-up sheets for the class “are full through Friday.” De Fluiter said she was surprised so many teens “would be interested in taking this honor, and in helping people you wouldn’t want to be around at their age,” including infants and older people.
But the camporee isn’t just a grind of honors classes. Many of the teens are taking advantage of hot air balloon rides, climbing walls, sailing, and other activities. For the week, camporee organizers rented out the local YMCA, giving the kids a chance to ice-skate, play soccer indoors, and swim. In all, the activities are designed to provide a memorable experience and help kids make new friends while strengthening their faith in Christ.