The Lake Union Camporee is one of the largest Pathfinder events in the Lake Union and one of the largest camporees in the North American Division. On Sept. 15-17, 2022, more than 2,000 pathfinders gathered at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds. | Photo credit: Jonathan Logan
The gathering is the largest Pathfinder event in the Lake Union and one of the largest camporees in the North American Division. Held every five years since 1996 (and every four years before that), the camporee is eagerly anticipated by Pathfinders from around the Great Lakes region.
“It feels amazing to be here. They seem to be having a blast,” said Terry Trencartin, Pathfinder director at Michigan’s Harbor of Hope Church, one of the 135 clubs represented at the camporee.
That sentiment was echoed by Trey Slikkers, a Pathfinder from the Holland Huskies club. “It’s been awesome,” he said. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of new people, and the evening programs have been great. I really liked the speakers.”
Armando Miranda, North American Division associate youth director, and Andres Peralta, General Conference associate youth director, were the featured speakers throughout the camporee. Miranda and Peralta presented morning and evening messages based on the “Fearless” theme.
During Miranda’s messages, he focused on showing biblical examples of ‘fearless’ individuals. “We had two guys (Caleb and Joshua) who were fearless. Two guys who said, ‘I don’t care what anybody else says, I believe in my God,’” he said during Thursday evening’s message. Miranda encouraged the Pathfinders to be fearless in the face of opposition and to be steadfast in their faith, even when it’s hard to do so.
Peralta’s messages encouraged Pathfinders to be fearless in dealing with sin and serving others. “Let me bring a solution to you guys because some of you want to give up. You don’t want to be fearless anymore,” he said during the Friday evening service. “You are afraid to face your situation…but Paul said [in Hebrews 12:1-4], ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance…fixing our eyes on Jesus.’”
In his Sabbath evening message, Peralta focused on being ‘fearless’ through serving God by telling the story of how he became a Pastor. “Even if you don’t believe in yourself, God shows you, and believes in you,” he said. “I said, God will never choose someone unworthy. God chose me because I’m his special treasure. Don’t have fear. He has chosen you!”
At the end of his message, Peralta presented an appeal to Pathfinders who may feel called to pastoral ministry. “If you have felt the calling to be a pastor, I don’t care if you’re three years old…or if you’re twenty years old, if you want to be a pastor someday, I want to pray for you,” he said. “We need warriors that are fearless!”
“I’m going to be very transparent,” Peralta continued. “To the girls that are here…do not allow anybody, whether the church, a pastor, an institution, or a vote to say that you cannot be a pastor,” he said, speaking to several girls who had indicated during the appeal their interest in becoming a pastor. “If you feel the calling to be a pastor…you are a special treasure.”
Three baptisms took place during the Sabbath morning worship service. Rachel Capps, 14, a member of the Eau Clare Critters club, was one of the people baptized. Her family has a tradition steeped in club ministries. Four of her siblings were baptized at previous Lake Union camporees. “I love Pathfinders and it’s a very special thing to me,” she noted. Although she was nervous right before the baptism, she says she was helped by the club’s TLT director Rahel Wells, and “ended up really liking it.”
The concluding day, Sabbath, was jump-started by a parade of Pathfinders, dressed in their full-dress uniform. Led by a police car and fire truck, the Pathfinders marched throughout the fairgrounds to the grandstand. “I'd say [the parade] went very well,” said Eric Herve Jean-Baptiste, the coordinator for the parade. “I think the fire truck police car for the escorts, for the dignitaries, put a little gravitas to the parade.”
Jean-Baptiste, who also serves as Lake Region’s Pathfinder coordinator, says that the review stand at the end of the parade route was also a highlight of the parade. “Usually, we have the conference directors on the review stand with the dignitaries,” he said. “[But] I switched it up. I wanted the conference directors to lead their conference, so that you can recognize who the leaders of the conference are and to see them march. They did an awesome job.”
A special offering was also taken to benefit Pathfinder clubs in Cuba. “Our union has a Pathfinder tradition to help other parts of the world. Pathfinders take care of Pathfinders,” said Ron Whitehead, Lake Union youth director. “In Cuba, there is not a lot of options down there for their support except us. And so, Pathfinders in Lake Union have adopted Cuba to be our place to support over the years.” Over the years, the money has been used to purchase equipment, training materials, backpacks, and other essentials. “These are things that they can't have access to, but really makes them stand out in their communities. Most of their clubs are community kids…so, what an evangelism opportunity we're offering our fellow Pathfinders in Cuba.”
Pathfinders were able to participate in over 30 honors and other activities such as archery, 3-on-3 basketball tournaments, and a youth museum throughout the entire camporee. On Sabbath, over 500 Pathfinders earned the Dunes honor at Warren Dunes.
Blacksmithing was one of the honors taught at the camporee. The instructor, Henry Davis, says that his family has taught the honor over 11,000 times in 14 states. “I’m trying to keep kids doing things with their hands. I want the kids to learn how to do something when things don’t work,” Davis explained. “The first project we make is called a ‘frederick cross’. It’s a piece of scrap steel that we make into something beautiful. We live in a society where if you’re not what people want, they’re going to throw you away. We take that piece of ‘scrap’ and we make it something that’s valuable. I can teach life lessons because while I’ve got their attention because of the fire, and they’ll understand it. It’s my passion.”
The camporee is not only an opportunity for Pathfinders to make new friends and learn but a way for Pathfinders to realize that their faith is bigger than the local church. “Some don’t have the same opportunities to relate, but when they come to this place and they see a few thousand Pathfinders coming together, they realize that they’re part of a movement that is far greater than the local area,” said Michael Campos, Illinois Conference Youth Director, during a Lake Union Herald live broadcast. “They gain this global mission mindset of who they are and what God wants them to be as Christians,”
To watch the camporee, go to www.youtube.com/lakeunionherald
The dates and theme of the next Lake Union Camporee have not been determined yet. You can keep track of the latest information at www.luc.camporee.org.
Samuel Girven is a Pathfinder at the Cadillac Church.