Heather Reseck had tears in her eyes as she looked over the field where the Pathfinder tents were pitched. "Some of the kids had never come to the Olympic Peninsula or been on a beach before and this camporee gave them that opportunity. I saw all of the kids on this property and realized how much fun they were having, but most of all I realized that they were coming here to discover God's love," she said.
Located near Port Townsend on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, the North Pacific Union Pathfinder Camporee was held on the farm that Heather's parents, Norman and Fannie Houck, bought in 1959. "Dad loved children and loved sharing, and he would have been delighted to see all these Pathfinders here on his land."
Held during the weekend of Sept. 13-16, 1,677 Pathfinders registered for the camporee and another 400 people showed up for the Sabbath events. The club from Libby, Montana, drove for 10 hours to attend the camporee while the Poulsbo Club only had a 30-minute drive. They could have slept at home and had hot showers but decided to rough it with the others.
Friday was a day for the clubs to discover the Olympic Peninsula. Some went to Hurricane Ridge, others to Fort Flagler State Park and others went to Dungeness Spit to walk the beach and play near the water of Puget Sound. The Poulsbo Pathfinders hiked halfway up 4,273-foot Mt. Zion in the Olympics. Bruce Youngberg, club director, said, "truly there were great views to behold; no wonder they call it Mt. Zion!"
Pathfinders come in all sizes and ages and include not only the kids but the adults who started out as Pathfinders and are now the leaders and mentors. John Perry owns a small software consulting firm and is a U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel who most recently served in Afghanistan. He started in Pathfinders when his parents were missionaries in Ethiopia. Today he is in his seventh year as a staff member with the Meadow Glade Pathfinders in Battle Ground, Washington. He says, "The military taught me the importance of group discipline and self-sacrifice. With a club of over 60 Pathfinders and 25 staff, we couldn't move anywhere or get anything done without it."
Al Montgomery has been the Cle Elum and Ellensburg (Washington) club director for 12 years. He has always felt a call to work with kids. He first wanted to be a Boy Scout leader but then he became an Adventist and heard about Pathfinders. When the church nominating committee asked him to be the director, he said that it was an answer to his call.
Imogene Thomas, Upper Columbia Conference East Cascade area coordinator, has been a Pathfinder for more than 40 years. In her career as a nurse she is a caregiver, and in her career as a Pathfinder she has also been a caregiver to the kids in the clubs. She started as a Pathfinder, became in turn a junior counselor, a counselor, a deputy club director, a club director and now an area coordinator. When her husband Russell passed away, the other Upper Columbia area coordinators rallied around her to help with the funeral expenses and by putting a new roof on her home.
But that's who Pathfinders are and what they do, whatever their age. They live the Pathfinder Pledge. "By the grace of God, I will be pure, and kind, and true. I will keep the Pathfinder law. I will be a servant of God and a friend to man."