Loving the Lord my God I will . . .”.
If you know how to finish this sentence, there’s a good chance you are, or have been, a Pathfinder. An elite group of nature enthusiasts able to navigate with a topical map and compass, tie obscure knots, follow drill commands, survive in the bush with just a space blanket and some matches, and tap into extreme stealth to capture the opposition’s flag (surely a Saturday night game of “Capture the Flag” is a universal essential when on a Pathfinder camp).
I must admit that I did not always love being a Pathfinder. I did not want to spend my weekends doing more work when I was meant to be taking a break from school. But over time, as I grew in maturity and reflected with great fondness on my experience, I have realised that being a Pathfinder has been pivotal in my faith journey.
My Pathfinder journey started at a small club that had a flexible approach to the curriculum and attire. Our leaders were enthusiastic and knowledgeable about nature, and it was impossible to not also be excited when you found a wildflower when out on a hike or the Orion constellation when learning about the stars. This Pathfinder club eventually stopped when there were no longer enough kids signed up to participate, and no-one available to lead the club. So the remaining five of us relocated to a new Pathfinder club at a different church, one with more kids. This one was completely different to the first.
My second club was hard work. Expectations were higher than what I was used to as we strove for (and attained) A-grade status, but the reward was greater. There were more Adventist kids to connect with, more resources to learn from, and dedicated and passionate leaders who were genuine in wanting the best for the kids under their care. Through my formative teenage years I attended this club, staying anchored in my faith through the distractions, due to the connections and experiences I had at my Pathfinder club.
I can’t honestly tell you that I would be working for Adventist Record, writing this piece, if I had not been a Pathfinder. I know that others may not have had the same experience or outcome as mine, but there is something special about the Pathfinder program. As an adult, when ministry called my husband and I to relocate overseas, it was once again in the worldwide Pathfinder family where I found my sense of belonging.
With this Sabbath being World Pathfinder Day, we want to celebrate what it means to be a Pathfinder. Thank you to all who have volunteered time, resources and energy into the Pathfinder program. The late nights planning, exhausting weekends away, and energy spent encouraging teenagers to learn and get outdoors, does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. We appreciate you, whether we realise it at the time or not. And you may never know how you have impacted someone’s life through your involvement with Pathfinders.
If you have the opportunity to join a Pathfinder club, give it a go! Or if there’s not one in your local area and you’re able to start one, go for it! It may be hard work, but trust me, it’s worth it.