by Jon Dalrymple
FARRAGUT, Idaho, September 29, 2011 - About 114 young people made requests to be baptized while attending the Upper Columbia Conference Pathfinder Camporee this year. The Camporee, held at Farragut State Park near Athol, Idaho, was attended by over 766 pathfinders from clubs across the conference and even a club from Canada.
"We have been averaging around 60 to 70 requests for baptism at Camporees and Fairs in the last few years," said Wayne Hicks, Upper Columbia Conference Pathfinder Director, "so we were surprised to see such a high number of baptismal requests. Even two pathfinders from the Canadian club, True North, made requests for baptism."
Camporees create a fun and exciting event for Pathfinder clubs to attend, but they are also designed to be highly spiritual events. Sleeping in a tent, cooking over the fire, playing outdoors and learning about nature, are all part of the fun that connects a series of spiritual talks centered on knowing Jesus Christ.
The theme of the three-day event was, "This is My Fathers World." The keynote speaker, Pastor Ken Rogers, told a number of stories over the weekend that taught how Jesus would relate to people if he were in the world today.
Rogers played the part of Mordecai in the Esther play at the 2009 world-wide pathfinder camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Currently, Rogers is a Vice-President for Student Life and Mission at Walla Walla University, but he has been a youth pastor, academy chaplain, Bible teacher and choral instructor. He also spoke at an Upper Columbia Conference Pathfinder fair 20 years ago in Ellensburg, Washington.
"I really appreciated the rapport that Pastor Ken had with kids and the spiritual applications he made with his stories," said Lisa Malakowsky of the Pend Orielle Valley Pathfinder Club. "and we also appreciated the effort that was taken to create meaningful Sabbath afternoon activities."
Farragut State Park offers a number of great activities for Pathfinders in itself, with 40 miles of forested trails, beautiful lake-front and The Brig Museum which teaches about the park's history as a US Navy submarine training station during World War II. But, in addition, Pathfinders enjoyed presentations by several wildlife experts as well. Kelly Greene, a wildcat expert from Athol, Idaho, gave presentations about his captive bobcat and lynx which are native to the northwest but are rarely seen in the wild. And several Washington State University (WSU) students from the WSU Raptor and Rehabilitation program made presentations that included live birds of prey like a barn owl, red tailed hawk and an American kestrel.
"Very few people get to see these kinds of animals up close and personal," said Hicks, "so we are very thankful that these people were willing to come and make their presentations."
These are just a few of the activities that make the camporee memorable for kids. "We really enjoyed the huckleberry ice cream treat on Sunday," said Cindy Johnson of the Othello Outreachers Cub. "It wasn't just the ice cream, it was the opportunity to socialize with other clubs that made it extra special."
Camporee program planners also included a special tribute to Merrill and Joyce Brown who have a combined total of 93 years of pathfindering. A special prayer of thanks and gift was given to Carolyn Bullock, a long-time Pathfinder staffer who came to the Camporee despite the debilitating stroke she suffered last year. Two teen pathfinders, Kelsey Bitton of the Deer Park club and Trina Whorley of the Spokane Linnwood club, were baptized on Sabbath during the worship service. And Chief Raincloud brought us a 99.99 percent precipitation-free weekend.
"I wouldn't have changed a thing about the weekend," said Dottie Gleed of the Othello Outreachers Club. "I'm just glad Our Savior was included in the whole thing."