When Pathfinders complete the Adventist Christian Education honor, they will receive a patch similar to this one.
Once upon a time Adventist Christian education and Pathfinder Club ministry shared a special bond. The Pathfinder curriculum was integrated into the classroom and many of the students were members of their local church club. Over the years, the two ministries diverged, but youth leaders and educators are now working to reverse this trend.
At the upcoming Oshkosh Camporee, in a cavernous 40,000 square foot airplane hangar, Adventist Education at all levels, K-12 plus university, for the first time will be on full display.
According to Center for Youth Evangelism and Lake Union Youth director, Ron Whitehead, statistics show that between 62 and 71 percent of young people who are involved in Pathfinders are either homeschooled or in public schools. By having the Education Department take such a central role at camporee is communicating that Adventist Christian education is supporting the youth’s faith journey. “This shows that Adventist Christian education believes in Pathfinders, believes in the volunteers who spend countless hours helping kids, and is willing to join with the informal educators preparing our youth for eternity.”
The theme of Hangar C is “A Path to Jesus, A Path to Excellence,” and the organizers have created a space where educators can meet young people from all parts of the world. Representatives from grade schools, 18 academies and North American Division (NAD) colleges will be on hand. All 13 universities in the NAD have invested financially into this project, six of which will have a booth in the hangar, others will have a representative there even without a booth. Four international universities are participating as well. “This is one of the rare times that Youth evangelism and Adventist education have come together in such a magnanimous way,” says Ruth Horton, associate director of Education for the Lake Union and chair of the planning committee.
Among the 47 exhibitors is Andrews University, which will have seven departments represented at the Camporee. However, a few departments such as Aviation and Agriculture won’t be located in the hangar because of the type of space required for their discipline. Exhibitors also will include Adventist Robotics, ADRA Education, the NAD Education Department, Union Education departments. In following with the theme of Hangar C, the Lake Union Education Department has chosen for the theme of their booth as “Choose Jesus. Choose Excellence.”
“We want to walk with young people on their turf and help plant seeds, little by little, of the lifelong benefits of choosing Jesus,” explained Horton. “We want to show what Adventist education can do and what it can be in different contexts.”
The entire hangar will be interactive and instructional with activities focusing on stretching the mind, collaborating and problem-solving. The activities planned include basic outdoor rescue, a climbing wall, an escape room, floorball, outdoor large canoe, green screen photos, Ellen White pulpit pictures, mini drones/robotics, and hands-on physics demos. Prizes like stickers, Little Debbie snacks and apples will be given away. Thirty charging stations also will be available in the hanger for those needing to charge phones or smart watches.
Attendees will have the opportunity to earn honors in Hangar C, including Basic Rescue, Bible Markings, Foreign Mission Trips, Geocaching, Home Nursing, Lighthouse, Livestock and Flower Culture, Maple Sugar, Metal Craft, Pickleball, and Waterfalls. In addition to earning an honor, Pathfinders can also receive a special pin, patches, and passports.
“We want to meet and talk to young people,” says Horton, “We want to hear their personal stories, to let them know we as educators are here to support them. We want to thank the Lord for the youth coming and pray that God continues to be with them. That’s why we will be there: to hold up their hand in their walk with the Lord.”