rnold and Dixie Plata had a dream: they wanted to show youth throughout the world that God has a special plan for them. The Platas wished to create a place that spotlighted the unique role of young people in this denomination. That role has not been exemplified greater than through the Pathfinder Clubs that count so many Adventist youth as members. And it is because of this that the Pathfinder/Youth Museum and Learning Center is being created. The Platas have served as sort of “Pathfinder historians,” amassing hundreds of pieces of Pathfinder memorabilia from all over the world over many years, and will serve as associate directors of the facility that will be located near the Historic Adventist Village in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States.
The existing plan is for the museum to be housed on the same plot of land on which John Harvey Kellogg’s home once stood. The purpose of this facility is fourfold: to provide Pathfinders and others the opportunity to witness how God has used young people for His purpose, to encourage visitors to be courageous in their faith as the pioneers of long ago were, to provide leadership training opportunities for youth and adults alike, and to serve as a place to preserve youth ministry and Pathfinder-specific artifacts and documentation.
The museum will include displays on the early days of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to show how youth ministry has grown. Visitors will discover the historical significance of youth ministry from learning about the first General Conference youth director, M. E. Kern (1907), to when the class levels were first developed in Pathfinders (1922), to when Vocational Merits (now referred to as AY Honors) were first introduced (1928), and much more.
While experiencing the museum, visitors will learn about “Pathfinder Pioneers,” individuals who took their vision of youth ministry to a higher level, enabling youth around the world to grow together in Jesus. Among them are John Hancock, who designed the Pathfinder emblem in 1946, and Henry T. Bergh, who wrote the official Pathfinder song in 1949.
Each area within the exhibit space will have hands-on activities that will enhance the overall experience. Stations may feature topics such as Bible knowledge, tent pitching, agriculture and farming, canoe building, and a nature “touch and identify” area.
In addition, guests will enjoy displays depicting past and current camporees, including the first one held in 1954 through to the Courage to Stand event of this summer.
Terry Dodge is president of the Pathfinder/Youth Museum and Learning Center. He writes from Michigan, United States.