“We are the future, a promise just begun. We’re the next generation, tomorrow’s in our hands. In a world of problems, we’re going to make a stand.”
That’s the opening verse of the song, “We’re the Pathfinders”. With the recently completed 2019 AUC Pathfinder Camporee in Molesworth, Victoria, and the NZPUC Camporee in White Rock, I couldn’t help but think back to my days of Saturday night meetings, camping trips and expeditions. I never fully appreciated some of those experiences at the time. It’s only in growing up that I’ve realised how awesome my Pathfinder days were.
My first ever camporee was “12th Gate” at Stuarts Point (NSW) in 2007. In the Pathfinder world, camporees hold a mythical and legendary status. Clubs would sometimes form a year ahead of time just to be able to attend one of the week-long events. Suffice to say I was hyped, and 12th Gate did not disappoint. With around 6000 in attendance, the marching techniques from other clubs (in particular from the islands) were a sight to behold. As part of the Adelaide City Pathfinder Club, our campsite was next to a club from Solomon Islands and we ended up exchanging cultural food throughout the week. But my favourite memory was an activity involving running through the scrub before entering a clearing with a massive water fight. Nothing more satisfying than pegging wet sponges at random people!
Then there were the evening meetings. Each night was topped off by visiting speaker Pastor Jose Rojas, and in one presentation he told a story of how his wife saved his life. Pastor Rojas was meant to be having a business breakfast at the top of the World Trade Center in 2001, but his wife insisted he stay home to do some cleaning. He hesitantly agreed, not knowing what was about to unfold— the day was September 11.
But Pathfinders is not only about having fun and listening to inspirational sermons, it’s about creating leaders.
I love the line in the Pathfinder song, “tomorrow’s in our hands”. It epitomises how Pathfinders plays a key role in developing young people in the Church to serve. Talking to people around the Adventist Media office, it’s amazing how true this statement is. Not only did most of my colleagues attend Pathfinders at some point, there were a few who also helped organise camporee events. Hope Channel director Pastor Wayne Boehm coordinated one of the daily activities for 12th Gate. And the Adventist Record reporter for that week was Melody Tan—12 years on, we now work together!
Pathfinders and camporees are also a place where decisions are made. More than 10,156 Pathfinders have collectively attended the Fiji Mission, Solomon Islands Mission, New Zealand Pacific Union and Australian Union camporees in the last year. Fifty-six young souls have been baptised, and a further 721 have asked for baptism. Incredible numbers.
I can’t overstate my gratitude to all the leaders and volunteers who made things happen during my Pathfinder days—from the cooks and leaders at my club, all the way through to those organising the camporees. It’s incredible to now see close friends my age stepping up to the plate and running their church’s Pathfinder clubs.
For anyone out there on the fence about whether to join Pathfinders or enrol their children, being a part of it teaches you a valuable life lesson that is found in the chorus of the Pathfinder song: “We’re the Pathfinders, believe us when we say, we’re headed in the right direction ‘cause Jesus leads the way.”