April 14, 2017 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | Libna Stevens/IAD
Coming to Inter-America’s 4th territory-wide pathfinder camporee is a dream come true for Ana Patricia Hernández of Chiapas, México. The sun, the heat, the thousands of her peers from dozens of countries feel like a huge wrapped gift to her. Ana traded her 15th birthday celebration with family and friends for a six-day camping trip to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her decision to forgo the traditional party was the easiest she has made.
“A birthday party can last a few hours but an event like this can last me a lifetime,” said Ana. She has soaked up every moment at Mirador del Este Park, earning badges, exchanging pins, finding out about the history of the pathfinder movement, making new friends and learning more about the legacy of the biblical Ruth.
“Ruth was a strong woman and wasn’t swayed by the sinful people around her,” said Ana. “I know it’s important to be firm and take a stand for what you believe.”
At 14-years-old, she is clear about her identity and mission as a pathfinder to stand firm in obedience to God’s laws, share His love to a dying world and spread the hope of the Soon Coming of Jesus.
That clear identity is what Seventh-day Adventist leaders want pathfinders to retain as they return home this weekend.
“The [pathfinder] club emphasizes the commitment their members have with Jesus and with those surrounding them, and this identity gives them a local commitment with a local vision,” explains Ruiz. And it goes beyond that, says Ruiz, “because it’s important they learn to have that global identity with other peers and believers who find their identity with Jesus because he or she will live with Jesus eternally.”
The club reinforces the physical, mental, and spiritual faculties leading them to Jesus, the beginning and the end of their identity, adds Ruiz, who has decades of experience in leading pathfinders and master guides in Mexico.
Everything that is taught in the club has a meaning and purpose in the growth of the pathfinder, highlights Ruiz. “That’s why it’s important they know the roots and the details of how the club began as an evangelism tool to lead faithful young people to the Kingdom of Heaven,” says Ruiz.
Organizers wanted to make sure pathfinders were able to visit the Museum of Pathfinder History during the camporee event.
Adventist Youth Ministries Museum led by Terry Dodge of Battle Creek, Michigan, brought artifacts highlighting the early church begun by young people, the birth of pathfinder club, its official organization in the 1950s by the General Conference and the colors, uniforms, patches and pins from throughout the years.
Dodge has been traveling to worldwide camporees for decades now and showcases the importance of the identity of the pathfinder. “Pathfinders is a way of life,” says Dodge. “Our pledge and law says it all how we live, our relationship with Jesus and our job to tell the world of His Soon coming,” adds Dodge. Dodge became a pathfinder at 10 years old and never missed a camporee. Dodge has been part of the leadership team of organizers at the International Pathfinders Camporee held in Oshkosh since the late 1990s.
The museum also features a section with a full display of biblical archeology and the origin of the exchange of pins as well as a collection of pathfinder pins.
Seeing the strength of the thousands of pathfinders at the 4th territory-wide pathfinder in Inter-America is a true blessing, says Louise Nocandy. “I am so proud of our young people because they are clearly a lineage of champions waiting for the second glorious coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” says Nocandy.
“We want pathfinders to better understand the purpose of the club and its vision to disciple them to become effective church leaders today and for the future,” adds Nocandy.
To view a photo gallery of the camporee, visit flikr.com/photos/interamerica
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