Rain Comes With The Territory
And 8 Other Things I Learned at the Columbia Union Camporee
Story by Taashi Rowe
1. Rain Comes With The Territory. Thursday it rained, Friday it rained and Sabbath it rained, though not as much. Though I cringed at driving and walking through the mud and ran for cover during intermittent showers, most of the Pathfinders shrugged off the bad weather. Rain comes with the territory, they said while donning ponchos, umbrellas and other raingear. According to Harriett Ponder, a member of Potomac Conference’s Seabrook Seahawks in Lanham, Md., Pathfinders learn to “stick it out in the rain, snow and cold!”
And stick it out they did. Some 1,600 Pathfinders braved the weather at the Columbia Union Conference “Choose Without Compromise” Camporee held last week at Camp Mohaven in Danville, Ohio.
2. Help is just a tent away. After a night of heavy rains and strong winds, members of the Central Spanish Conquistadores, a Pathfinder club comprised of three Chesapeake Conference churches in Maryland, awoke to find their canopy destroyed and its contents rain-soaked. “We would have been discouraged but the Waldorf Wildcats rescued us and gave us a new canopy and others chipped in to help set it up,” said Lourdes Alvarenga, a member of the Washington-Spencerville Spanish church in Ashton, Md. “Then the Hagerstown Pathfinders blessed us by sharing breakfast with us. It was wonderful how everyone came together and helped!”
3. It’s fun, you make friends and you learn a lot! Pathfinders really enjoy camping, swimming, earning honors and making friends. During the four-day event, attendees could work on 40 honors, including sand, rope knots, African-American Adventist History and the hugely popular tie-dying.
4. Pathfinders is not just for Adventists. John Garrett and his daughter Shannon feel quite at home even though they attend a Sunday church. When his daughters made friends at Chesapeake Conference’s Atholton church in Columbia, Md., he thought he would check out their Faith Blazers club. He discovered that his daughters “were getting a much better Christian education than they were at our church.” Most of the kids in the Ohio Conference’s Akron Crusaders Pathfinder Club in Ohio, are not members of the church. “We don’t know why they would want to keep hanging out with a bunch of 50 to 60 year olds, but we love them and they love us,” shares Mark Sarokes, one of the club’s counselors.
Potomac’s Woodbridge (Va.) Ghanaian church Asempa Pathfinder Club was such a welcoming place that Georgina Yeboah joined members at the camporee. While at there, she also made a commitment to Christ. Yeboah said, “[The speaker] was talking about Jesus’ second coming. I want to see Jesus face to face and so I came forward.”
5. When you’re scared, you learn to trust God. “Some of the little kids were scared when it was thundering, but I saw it as my chance to put my faith in God. After I did that I believed everything would be fine,” said Kassandra Fernandez, 17, a member of The New Jersey Conference Passaic I church’s Soldiers of the King Pathfinder Club in Passaic, N.J.
6. It’s a family affair. Sebastian Harris, 16, and Alexander Azambuja, 17, of the Pennsylvania Conference Easton church Hummingbirds, say their counselors have impacted their lives. “They cry with us, feed us, come to our house to pick us up, play sports with us and play jokes on us,” they say. And although Azambuja is heading to college, he’ll always be a member of this club, because “you can’t leave a family.”
7. It’s about giving back. “You impact another generation,” said Corrine Rawlings, a member of Potomac Conference’s New River Valley church in Radford, Va., and an area coordinator for the conference, she says, “Someone gave their time for me and I’ve never forgotten that counselor.” Tony Clemmon, Northeast area coordinator for the Allegheny West Conference, says he tries to teach his Pathfinders to, “stand up and take responsibility for their choices.”
8. Once a Pathfinder, always a Pathfinder. Marie Grant, a member of Allegheny West Conference’s Glenville church in Cleveland, joined the Pathfinders 62 years ago when she was 10 growing up in Trinidad. Since then her entire family has joined the church and all her children are Pathfinders, too. E.W. and Zelda Bailey, members of the Allegheny West Berea church in Middletown, Ohio, are now in their 80s. They retired just this year after serving some 48 years as Pathfinders leaders.
9. You get closer to God. On Sabbath when speaker José H. Cortés, Jr., Youth Ministries director for the Atlantic Union Conference, called for Pathfinders to “Choose Without Compromise,” dozens came forward for baptism. Among them was Denny Grady’s 13-year-old daughter, Noe, a member of the Waynesboro (Va.) Mountaineers. As the Potomac Conference’s Youth Ministries director said the closing prayer, he teared up. “It’s always the dream and the hope of every pastor that your child makes the same type of decision for Jesus that you do,” he later shared.
Jonathan Dale, director of the Mountain View Conference’s Summersville church Warriors said the sermons made an impression on his three sons. “Micah, my six-year-old grabbed my hand and said, ‘Daddy, I want to be baptized.’ I looked around and suddenly Nathan and Zachary were also standing by my side. I don’t know if they know what it means, but this was the first time in their lives, they’ve come forward like this.”