Pathfinder Fair Attracts Record Attendance
Pathfinders, 829 strong, set up camp on the campus of Walla Walla Valley Academy, in College Place, Wash., May 14–16, for a weekend of fun activities, community service and spiritual growth. The annual Pathfinder Fair is the grand finale of the year's activities for 34 Pathfinder clubs around the Upper Columbia Conference.
Known around the world for marching, uniforms, camping and honor patches, Pathfinders is often perceived as just a fun activity for grade school children. But for Pathfinders in UCC, it is much more than that.
"The most impressionable age for kids is between 10 and 12 years old," says Wayne Hicks, UCC Pathfinder director. "We had 68 requests for baptism this year. But even after that decision is made, Pathfinder clubs continue to disciple young people in leadership skills and community outreach all the way into academy and adulthood."
At the fair each year, many teen Pathfinders receive the Teen Pathfinder of the Year Award by reaching participation requirements and completing certain devotional or Bible reading assignment during the year. At this year's Pathfinder Fair, 79 youth earned the award.
Amanda Johnson, a senior at Upper Columbia Academy, received the award for the sixth year in a row. "I've been doing Pathfinders forever since my mom is a director, but one year I saw a teen Pathfinder receive the award for their sixth time and I was impressed. I leaned over to my mom and said, 'Mom, someday I'm going to do that.'"
Throughout the weekend of the fair, Pathfinders have many opportunities to use their talents to glorify God and witness to others. This year, Pathfinders helped collect canned food for the Blue Mountain Area Community Food Bank in Walla Walla, Wash. Each club was assigned a section of town and asked to go door to door requesting a few nonperishable items for the food bank. In just a few hours, nearly 8,000 pounds of food was collected.
Gail McGhee, food bank director, was amazed. "Those young people should be commended for their efforts," she says. "It is a huge boost for us as well as our clients. The community was very generous, and I know it has a lot to do with the way the youth presented themselves at the door."
"Our kids and staff made me proud again," says Hicks. "Figuring about 1 pound per can, that's just 10 cans for each staff and Pathfinder attending. Awesome!"