The Lake Union Camporee will take place September 15-18, 2022 at the Berrien County Fairgrounds.
On September 15, nearly 3,000 Pathfinders will converge in Berrien Springs, Michigan for the “Fearless” Lake Union Pathfinder Camporee. The Pathfinder camporee, held every five years at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds, is the largest Pathfinder event held by the Lake Union.
As event organizers plan for this memorable gathering, Pathfinders from across the Great Lakes region are awaiting details about what they can expect. Lake Union Herald Correspondent Samuel Girven interviewed Craig Harris, Lake Union Club Ministries coordinator, about the upcoming camporee. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow.
Samuel Girven: What are some things that Pathfinder directors, parents, and club members should be aware of as we approach the start date of this camporee?
Craig Harris: One of the big things is on August 15—that’s only a few days away—is when the price goes up for registration. After that, the price goes to $45. And if you haven’t signed up by September 1, you can’t come. So on August 15, we want everybody to be signed up. There will be some emails coming out around the end of August or early September regarding some of the honors because there are some that people will need to pre-register for.
Samuel Girven: What can people expect upon arrival?
Craig Harris: When you get there, you’re going to be welcomed, there will be assigned where they’ll go and set up their camp, and then they will come in to register to get their wristbands, and patches. You’ll also have to park your car in the parking area because there will be no cars at the campsites. We’ll have a few activities going on Thursday, but the camporee really starts Thursday night at 7 pm. We’d really like to have everybody in by then so they can experience that.
Samuel Girven: What kind of onsite activities will there be?
Craig Harris: We have over 40 onsite activities. We’re planning on having a “pioneer village” that some folks from South Carolina are putting together. They’ll have tutorials on how to hand saw wood, writing with a quill feather, and a lot of other neat activities. There’s an obstacle course, hatchet throwing, archery, blacksmithing, and we’re introducing a new one—pewter casting. People will be able to make a pewter cast of the Pathfinder emblem. We’re also going to have screen printing, and how to do street art. Nathan Greene will be teaching the drawing and painting honor. We’re also having march and drill activities. We have a lot of honors that we’ll be teaching, such as owls, bats, and raptors. There are so many fun things people can do.
Samuel Girven: How about some of the new onsite activities that are being planned?
Craig Harris: The drawing and painting honor with Nathan Greene is new. Hatchet throwing is new as well. Archery is also new. We haven’t had archery in 15 years. We’ve also never had a full obstacle course, so that’s new as well.
Samuel Girven: It’s my understanding that a “5K with a twist” is being planned. What can you tell us about that?
Craig Harris: We’ve never done a 5K before. We’ll be staying on campus, and we’ll run around the campground and through the obstacle course. We’re hoping to add a mud pit. It’ll certainly have some “twist” to a normal 5K. But if you don’t want to be “Fearless” with that, you can still do the regular 5K.
Samuel Girven: You mentioned street art. That sounds very interesting. What is the story behind that?
Craig Harris: There’s a guy (Milton Coronado) that just knows how to make sides of buildings beautiful. We call it street art, but you can also use what you learn to make a banner or poster. He’s very gifted, and he’ll be teaching the basics of street art.
Samuel Girven: Let’s talk about some of the offsite activities.
Craig Harris: We’ve partnered with Andrews University for some offsite activities. The biology department is going to be teaching some honors, and the physical therapy department is going to be teaching the bones and muscles honor. The chemistry department will be teaching the chemistry honor. Honors from other departments are also in the works. All kinds of cool stuff that professors will be teaching. Groups can also go to the natural museum and nature center there. We’re also doing boat and canoe rides, and airplane rides. There’s also hiking and mountain biking. We’re having a “three-on-three” basketball tournament, swimming, rock climbing, and soccer—and those are just some of the offsite activities.
Samuel Girven: There’s a lot of nighttime programming planned as well. Tell us about that.
Craig Harris: We have invited our North American Division Club Ministries director Armando Miranda to open the camporee on Thursday, and we’ve also invited our world Pathfinder director Andres Peralta to speak on Friday and Sabbath. We’re excited to have our pathfinder leaders from North America and the world church at the camporee. We have some good singing and messages planned, and some good nature nuggets as well. But it’ll be mostly preaching at the main stage. There’s also going to be some baptisms on Sabbath, so that’ll be a lot of fun. Our main stage is in the grandstand of the Berrien County Fairgrounds. We’ll have a wonderful time.
Samuel Girven: How about the musical side of the nighttime programs?
Craig Harris: We have a couple of young men (Issac Peterson and Peter Flores) from Andrews University that are going to be leading that. Rumor has it, they’re actually writing a theme song based on our “Fearless” theme. We’re very excited about that.
Samuel Girven: How about some tips for parents? What can you tell parents that are on the fence about sending their kids?
Craig Harris: Some of the fence-sitters don’t want their kids to miss any school. I just really encourage the parents—and the teachers—to realize that most schools will be giving excused absences because of the educational and spiritual aspect of Pathfindering. It’s the best education anybody can get. This is a very valuable experience for young people. It’s not just the local conference—there’s going to be about 2,800 of us. It’s not just Indiana or Illinois or Lake Region or Michigan. It’s a bigger group. It’s really good for us to come together, and for our young people to realize that our faith is bigger than just our local conference.
Samuel Girven: What do you hope Pathfinders come away and go home with from this Camporee?
Craig Harris: That they fall in love with Jesus and commit themselves to him. Just like in Daniel 1:8—Daniel purposed in his heart to not defile himself with the king’s delicacies, but he also purposed in his heart to stay true to God. We hope that each Pathfinder will purpose in their heart to be “Fearless” through Christ.
Samuel Girven: What do you think is the most important part of this camporee?
Craig Harris: From my perspective, I really want every camper to fall in love with Jesus Christ again, or for the very first time. I hope that they develop new friendships, and that they would start to develop leadership skills within their own club. Whether you’re in the 5th grade or the 12th grade, there are opportunities for you to lead. Camporees are all about spiritual growth, making new friends, and developing those leadership skills. And, of course fun—we want to have fun, right? You want to be having fun while leading. You want to have fun with your spiritual walk. Those are the things we hope everybody comes away with, and I think these are the most important.
Samuel Girven, 15, is a student at Northview Adventist School and ASPIRE Academy and a member of the Cadillac Church.