by Jon Dalrymple
GOOSE PRARIE, WA - About 700 Pathfinders from all over the Upper Columbia Conference attended the annual Pathfinder Camporee, September 17 to 19, 2010. During the event, hundreds of young people made a commitment to follow Jesus and 91 Pathfinders requested Bible studies to prepare for baptism.
This year's camporee was held at Camp Fife, a Boy Scout camp in the Cascade mountains just west of Yakima, Washington. Though the rain forced the scheduled meetings to be held in the camp lodge rather than outdoors, it didn't stop the pathfinder clubs from pitching their tents and enjoying the weekend activities.
In addition to worships, music, and flag ceremonies, Pathfinders also participated in outdoor activities like hiking, building debris shelters, doing community service projects, playing stalking and concealment games, and exploring the largest eroded-basalt cave in the Northwest.
"We had a great weekend and it seemed to be extra-special this year," said LeAnn Paredes of the Goldendale Pathfinder club, "Maybe it was the rain, I don't know, but the music was wonderful. Elder Folkenberg did an awesome job keeping our attention. And the relaxed, free-time on Sabbath afternoon made Sabbath special."
Bob Folkenberg, Jr., President of the Upper Columbia Conference, was the keynote speaker for this year's Camporee. Folkenberg told stories from his many adventures overseas as a missionary to address the Camporee's theme, "Jesus, what can I do this day for you?"
"When you ask that question, the first thing Jesus is going to say to you is 'focus on Me'," said Folkenberg. "With so many distractions in this world it is easy to forget, but the most important thing we can do as Jesus followers, is focus on Him."
Folkenberg went on to say that he likes to think of the Christian life as similar to SCUBA diving. "If you try to do it without air you will die," he said, "and without the fresh air of a relationship with Jesus your Christian experience will die as well."
Bridget Anderson, a parent and staff member of the Wheatland Coyotes Pathfinder Club, who attended the camporee for the first time this year said, "I was ready to cancel this trip when I found out it would be raining all weekend, but we survived and not only did the kids have a lot of fun, it was a very spiritual weekend as well. I can see, now, why you do this every year."
As a way to say thank you to Camp Fife and the Boy Scouts for the use of their camp, the Pathfinders spent Sunday morning chopping firewood, adding wood chips to trails, and cleaning up debris around the grounds of the 60-acre camp.
"I didn't expect them to get half this much work done," said Clint House, camp ranger for Camp Fife. A lot of kids that come here seem to work harder at trying to get out of work than actually working, but these Pathfinders work like ants."
"It always amazes me to see how much work Pathfinders do in community service," said John Wenger, coordinator for the North Lakes district Pathfinders clubs. "Most of the kids have very little experience or training, yet the Lord uses their eager hands and the job gets done."
During the closing ceremonies, Conference Pathfinder director, Wayne Hicks, invited 12-year-old Becca Minden, someone he had recently baptized, to come forward as a representative of all the Pathfinders who had been baptized that year. Hicks gave a special prayer of dedication that they would continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus and "go on God's errands" in their new life as His followers.