December 12, 2010 – Mexico City, Mexico….Libna Stevens/IAD
What does it take to hold the largest event ever organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America? Lots of planning and coordination.
That’s what top youth leaders from throughout the 21 church regions in Inter-America have been doing for the last weeks, months and even a year as they prepare to gather some 20,000 pathfinders in the upcoming division-wide Youth Camporee. The third such event held in Inter-America, the camporee is scheduled to be held in Mexico City, April 19-23, 2011.
More than fifty youth ministries directors and financial administrators gathered last week in Mexico City to tour the camp site, review finances, tally up their final delegates, and discuss logistical issues such as visa applications, and security and insurance coverage to the number of portable showers and sanitary services needed.
“We are going to congregate some 20,000 people in the largest gathering ever in our Inter-American Division territory through this camporee,” said Pastor Bejamin Carballo, youth ministries director for the church in Inter-America. “We have the responsibility to lead all who will come here and we must have very clear that we want to make of this multitude of 20,000 disciples of Jesus.”
Safety was a major issue of concern during the meetings.
“We have concerned parents that don’t want to send their children because of safety reasons,” said Carlos Rilio, youth ministries director for the church in the Dominican Republic. He estimated that some 500 pathfinders and leaders from Dominican Republic originally wanted to attend the camporee, but said that number is now down to about 200.
Efrain Maldonado of Puerto Rico voiced the same security concern. Maldonado leads as youth ministries director for the church in Puerto Rico and said that his delegates are down to under 200 now. “An entire mission field dropped their dozens of pathfinders from registration because they are fearful of the probable danger in Mexico City,” he added. The camporee will take place on the 227-acre stretch site in the Ciudad Deportiva-the largest sports complex facility in Mexico City.
From the Jamaica Union and the Caribbean Union, Pastors Charles Blythe and Clive Dottin with nearly 400 campers respectively, also agreed with the security concerns.
Although the violence and crime in Mexico is well covered by the news media, Pastor Carballo assured leaders that the proper safety precautions will be in place for the event.
“We know that the news that our countries view of Mexico are not the most pleasant ones,” explained Carballo. “We know that violence is a reality in this world but violence is mostly predominant in our borders.”
“As one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City, is a safe city and many of our colleagues from other countries have seen it for themselves as well as our local churches which hold all kinds of activities here,” explained Carballo. “We believe that our security measures which will be implemented will provide the protection that our young people and leaders need while here.”
According to Carballo, some 250 security personnel have been contracted to provide the necessary protection on the campground. The campground itself is fenced in three times, including a cement wall. In addition, local police authorities and the fire department in the city of Iztacalco will be available to provide additional security if necessary.
“We have to fulfill certain requirements in order for the local government to authorize this event with fire extinguishers, evacuation routes, ambulances, fire station,” explained Carballo. “We cannot operate this event unless we have safety measures in place as well as medical, sanitary, and optimum electric conditions.”
A team of medical doctors and nurses have been contracted to offer assistance in six different module locations, two for pre-hospital cases and four for first aid response, explained Carballo. In addition, each traveling group has been asked to bring a medical doctor or a nurse to have with each pathfinder club.
“We believe that with the measures in place they [pathfinders and chaperon leaders] will come and go in peace,” said Carballo. “We are in this world and we have risks, but we believe that what we have done so far for their safety and security measures will guarantee the well-being of our campers.”
Budget logistics for the event were discussed in length as final arrangements were made for the stage, exhibit stations, online live coverage of the evening programs, daily radio and video programs in English, Spanish and French, as well as dozen camp activities and community initiatives on site.
Campers will have opportunity to visit dozens of exhibits, participate in athletic activities, marches, a Bible bowl, investitures, sign up for musical performances, and more.
“We want to make sure that each day will be a fun day for our pathfinders full of activities on our extensive campground,” said Carballo.
So far over 16,000 campers have signed up from Mexico, and nearly 4,000 have registered from the rest of the 17 regions in Inter-America. Registration will remain open until January 31, 2011, for groups outside of Inter-America, as long as it does not reach over the 20,000 mark.
As the weeks lead up to the camporee, Carballo said additional information will continue to be posted on the event’s official website at http://camporee.interamerica.org/. Registered pathfinder clubs can sign up for honor classes and other activities in the campsite. Clubs wanting to participate in activities outside the campgrounds must do so before the event, Carballo added.
Youth leaders also discussed upcoming programs and initiatives to take place during the next five years.
For more information on the IADYouth Camporee to be held Aprl 19-23, 2011, visit http://camporee.interamerica.org/
For a photo gallery of the IAD youth camporee campground and recentchurch leaders meeting, go to www.flickr.com/photos/interamerica