ifty-five years ago, the first Pathfinder Camporee was held in Idyllwild, California, United States. This year the place is Oshkosh, Wisconsin, but the goal is the same: bringing Pathfinder Clubs from all over the world together for five days to connect and experience the true mission of the gospel. More than 35,000 Pathfinders representing more than 100 countries will meet together for this memorable event. Pathfinders have been busy this year—raising money to get to Oshkosh and witnessing to others through acts of selflessness. These are a few of their stories.
The O.K. Cleaners
The Portsmouth, Ohio, U.S.A., Seventh-day Adventist Church contracts with a company to clean their church. Having little success with the only two cleaning companies in the area, the church suggested that the Portsmouth Peacemakers Pathfinder Club clean the church and, in return, be compensated at the same rate as the cleaning company, thus earning the needed dollars to go to the Courage to Stand Camporee in Oshkosh. The club agreed, and the name of their cleaning company is indicative of their mission: The O.K. (Oshkosh) Cleaners.
Requirements for the Laundry and Housekeeping Honors were met through the cleaning of their uniforms (company T-shirts) and the weekly cleaning of the church. The club members submitted ideas for the shirt design, and the final product was a culmination of ideas from all of the members. One submitted a smiling scrub brush; another submitted “Keepin’ It Clean for Jesus”; one submitted names of the club members; one submitted “Oshkosh or Bust.”
The church members have frequently remarked that the church is the cleanest it has ever been, and Sherry Craft, who assisted the club with camping at a recent Pathfinder fair, remarked, “The cleaning company has really helped our club learn to work together as a team.”
—Cindy Ferguson, Portsmouth Peacemaker leader
Rwanda Union Pathfinders Build Homes for the Displaced
In December 2007 and January 2008, the Adventist Pathfinder Club in Rwanda built 100 houses within two months for families that were expelled from Tanzania. These people who were forced from Tanzania are originally from Rwanda but have lived in Tanzania for many years. The Tanzanian government forced them to go back and reclaim their properties, but on their return they discovered that their houses were gone. The Rwandan government offered them land, but they did not have homes to live in. The government asked the Seventh-day Adventist Church to help in constructing houses for these families. The first group of 2,380 Pathfinders did the work for two weeks, and the last team of 1,800 Pathfinders finished the work in an additional two weeks.
Different churches offered transportation and meals for about 2,500 Pathfinders. The government provided cement, iron sheets, trees, sand, stones, and doors, and within two months these houses were completed. The Pathfinders not only built these new homes but also helped heal many hearts that had been deeply scarred. Every morning the Pathfinders had devotions with these families and shared food. In turn, these families were amazed to see love in action, not just in words, and several individuals decided to join the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
—Information provided by Jacques Nkinzingabo, youth director, Rwanda Union
Washington Conference Pathfinders Raise Funds for Oshkosh
This August, 430 young people and sponsors from the Washington Conference will join Pathfinder Clubs from around the world for the international Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Pathfinders from 11 clubs have been actively fundraising—hosting dinners, providing child care, selling
customized cookbooks, and more—to attend the camporee and sightsee along the way in places such as Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore.
Music and History Pave the Way
In early February Seattle’s Breath of Life church sponsored and produced “A Voice From the Past to the Future,” a Black history celebration to raise funds for the church’s young people to travel to Oshkosh.
The skits and musical performances—led by church members Sundria Burton and Jovonne Brown—celebrated African-American culture in America over the past 200 years. Interspersed with musical performances, church members played a variety of characters, including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Mary C. Terrell, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
—Darren McPherson, assistant communication director, Breath of Life church
Italian Food and Dreams of Oshkosh
The Sequim, Washington, Pathfinder Club hosted a “Night in Italy” fund-raiser and raised $2,400 for their trek to this year’s international camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. With the fellowship hall decorated in the colors of Italy, each Pathfinder donned waiter outfits and served assigned tables a traditional Italian dinner. The ambience was provided by two local accordion players playing well-known songs from the past, while the 100 attendees enjoyed high-energy entertainment in the form of games and skits.
The highlight of the evening was a live auction featuring services, weekend getaways, and various goods donated by local businesses and members.
Ten Pathfinders and seven staff adults will be making the road trip to Wisconsin in August, stopping to see sights some in the club have never seen before—Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s famed Little House on the Prairie home.
When asked what they’re most looking forward to, Sequim Pathfinders shared their hopes: “I’ve never been east of Idaho, so I can’t wait to be somewhere different than home. I’m especially excited about seeing the skits at the camporee because I’m interested in drama and plays. I feel very cared for knowing our leader, Twyla, spent a lot of time planning this trip, and that other adults are helping us,” said Rachel, 16.
Heather, 13, added: “I can’t wait to be on a real road trip! And [I’m looking forward to] meeting other Pathfinders from other states. I’m so thankful for our Pathfinder leader and parents.”
“This is going to be awesome!” said Cynthia, 15. “I’m excited about the cool spiritual experience of just being there at the Pathfinder Camporee and making friends.”
Pathfinder leader Twyla concurred: “I want to provide these kids with the experience of a lifetime. When I was young, I had Pathfinder leaders who cared enough to be involved in my life, and that’s why I’m a leader today. It’s my hope that through these positive opportunities our kids will want to be Pathfinder leaders when they grow up, passing on a love for ministry that was given to me at their age.”
—Maureen Dowling, Sequim Adventist Church communication director
Maryland, Lagos, Nigeria
In July the Pathfinder Club of Maryland, Lagos, Nigeria, held a cooking workshop and craft exhibition in order to raise money for the less privileged in their society. Just two months before, the Pathfinders had begun training in the making of cane baskets, chairs, trolleys, etc., for the exhibition. After the exercise, about 35 Pathfinders from the ages of 6 to 15 were given a certificate of participation. In September they will all be awarded Honors for completing the requirements in these areas.
The Pathfinder Club hopes to embark on more community-service-oriented workshops and programs in order to educate their peers both physically and spiritually, and also to help the community in creative and powerful ways.
—David Agu, assistant youth leader
Erica Richards was an editorial intern for the Adventist Review this summer.