“Pathfinders Is Such a Worthwhile Program”
Mark and Tammy Harris know how life-changing Pathfinders and Adventurer Clubs can be. They were in the clubs themselves.
Tammy, who grew up in Kingman, Arizona, joined Pre-Pathfinders (the precursor to Adventurers) when she was in third grade. Mark became a Pathfinder at 14, when his parents and friends started a club in Springerville, Arizona. By the time Mark was 17, he was serving as deputy director for that same club.
When the two met and began to plan their lives together, youth leadership just felt like a natural fit. The couple served as leaders in Arizona for several years, and served another eight years in Idaho. So when they moved to Hamilton, Montana, and volunteered to take on the leadership duties, they were greeted with open arms.
Mark and Tammy have been leading the Hamilton clubs since 2002, with Mark focusing on Pathfinders while Tammy devotes her time to Adventurers. Club membership has fluctuated, with an average enrollment of 14 young people.
Each year, Mark plans activities and honors around a particular theme. The Pioneer project ended with a three-day trip by wagon and horseback along the Oregon Trail.
Through the years, the Indian Lore honor class has been popular. An Indian campout is the perfect setting to learn how arrowheads are made, create beadwork, earn certification in CPR/first aid, and honors in outdoor skills.
“The campout brings the club closer together,” says Tammy. “It is a relaxing time at the end of the year when they can enjoy stories around the campfire and just talk to one another.”
Three years ago, Pathfinders rose to the challenge of riding 50 miles on their bikes. Adventurers joined in, too, though they were only expected to ride five miles. That same year was the Oshkosh Camporee, the most exciting trip of their Pathfinder leadership career.
Probably the biggest Montana event is the annual Pinewood Derby held in Missoula. Pathfinders from all over the state gather to compete.
Club members are encouraged to design and build their own derby cars to compete in a full day of racing. Meetings are a flurry of activity with work-stations for sanding, painting and wheel assembly.
Pathfinders isn’t all fun and games. There is serious work going on as well. Each year the clubs collect 600 to 1,000 food items to be given away during the holidays. They also do yard work, clean homes and shovel snow for elderly citizens.
Though Mark and Tammy encourage their members to earn honors, they were surprised last year to see how dedicated the members were to completing the scriptural portions of the Pathfinder Manual. Several members have made the decision to be baptized.
“Pathfinders is such a worthwhile program,” Mark says. “It teaches skills centered on a relationship with the Lord. While I can’t say Pathfinders is the only positive influence in these kids’ lives, I know it has played a vital part.”