By Julie Lorenz
Baking bread on a stick, reading a compass, lighting a campfire: Northern California Conference Pathfinders practiced these camping skills and many more at the NCC Invitational Camporee. About 180 Pathfinders from 13 clubs came together for intense fun and learning at Redwood Area Camp, Oct. 3-6.
NCC Youth Director Eddie Heinrich asked Chris Miller, director of the Fortuna Pathfinders for more than 37 years, to organize the camporee’s activities. He arranged for instructors to teach the four Camping Skills honors, and the kids enthusiastically participated in a number of camping-related activities. In addition, the Pathfinders were able to complete 80 to 90 percent of their classwork (Friend, Companion, etc.) for this Pathfinder year. They also worked on a number of required honors, such as Friendship, Knot Tying, Birds, and more.
About 25 members of local area churches served as volunteer instructors. “I wanted the Pathfinder staff to be free to go around with their clubs and help the kids,” said Miller.
The teen Pathfinders participated in a separate program, working on the Orienteering and Canoeing honors. The kids were surprised to discover that they would be cooking for themselves. They were divided into small groups, and each group was shown a table covered with ingredients from which to choose. They had to make menus for the entire weekend from those ingredients.
One highlight of the camporee was the junior Pathfinder Sabbath potluck. Each Camping Skill honor has a different cooking requirement—baking bread on a stick; boiling, frying, and baking; a one-pot meal; and baking in a reflector oven—so there was a wide variety of dishes. “The potluck was amazing, with really good food,” said Miller.
Club directors appreciated the many items the Pathfinders completed on their classwork to-do lists. “Doing the classwork requirements with other Pathfinders their age made it more enjoyable for the kids and easier to accomplish, and now our club can focus on other honors and fun activities during the rest of the Pathfinder year,” said RoseAnn Dalmas, director of the Napa Valley Pathfinders.
During the camporee, second-year Pathfinder Haydee Candelaria learned how to put up a tent and build a fire, and she also earned several honors, including Cacti. “My favorite parts of camporee were getting to meet new people and doing the honors,” said Candelaria, who is a member of Dalmas’s club.
Despite the work involved, Miller was happy to help the club members get the skills they need, while having fun in nature and learning more about God. He appreciates all the people who participated, and he’s grateful to his wife, Debbie, for her never-ending support. “Pathfinders is my ministry to these kids,” he said.