This weekend, all 12 members of Lacombe’s Pathfinders will return from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, fresh from the 2014 International Pathfinder Camporee.
Belinda Bader, director of the local Pathfinders club, said the camporee is a chance for the small club of Lacombe to mingle with the global community of Pathfinders.
“It’s a chance for kids to get together and see that we’re not an isolated little club here in Lacombe,” said Bader. She added that at the camporee, the Lacombe Pathfinders were part of 32,000 other campers from around the world as well as 7,000 to 8,000 volunteers. Recently, these international camporees have been held once every five years, said Bader.
Lacombe started attending the international camporees in 1985 and have tried to attend every year since. Bader said the experience is beneficial for club members.
“It’s just a great experience for them to travel and to be part of a large organization. I mean 30,000 people doesn’t even begin to represent the membership of Pathfinder clubs throughout the world.”
At the camporee, there are activities the campers participate in. One of the highlights is a drama production about biblical characters. This year’s production focused on the life of Daniel.
Bader said the Pathfinders is a youth group of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She said the program started in the early 1900s when the church decided it should have a youth organization similar to Scouts. Bader added it is difficult for Seventh-day Adventists to be part of Scouts because they worship on Saturdays, a day when many Scouts events are held.
While the program may have been inspired by Scouts, Bader said the Pathfinders program has emphasis on other areas as well. Notably of course is the faith component.
“We try to be intentional about having kids make a commitment or encouraging them in their relationship with Christ as their saviour and redeemer,” said Bader.
There is, for lack of a better word, something of a curriculum to the Pathfinders program, she added. There are levels of achievement that differ for each age groups. Pathfinders work at meeting requirements related to different components (such as spiritual development, personal growth, health and fitness and outdoor living) to receive those achievements.
Bader said the program is important to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as it is another part of the structure of a church to be able to offer such programs for its young members. She added the primary goal of Pathfinders is to strengthen youth relationships with Christ or help them develop one if they haven’t already.
It is unclear how long the Lacombe Pathfinders club has been around, said Bader, but the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a whole officially founded the organization in 1950, so it was likely formed around that time. She added the club had been operating long before she began her involvement with the local Pathfinders 27 years ago.