The Most Super-natural Camporee of the Century

November 01, 2002 | Todd Gessele

Billed as “the most super-natural camporee of the century,” the North Pacific Union Conference’s “Glacier Camporee” delivered an awesome weekend of weather, Sept. 19-22, for exploration and spiritual discovery.

This year, 1,628 Pathfinders and their leaders from across the Northwest camped near Glacier National Park on 40 acres next to the Flathead River, just outside Columbia Falls, Mont.

The program allowed clubs plenty of free time to explore the natural beauty and wonder of Glacier National Park and reflected the Camporee’s purpose: to reveal Jesus Christ, the Creator, as our Savior and friend.

Mari Best of the Bonney Lake, Wash., “Ocelots” Pathfinder Club, enjoyed the dramatic, first-person gospel presentation by the “Apostle John.”

“It really brought the Bible to life, and it was fun to see him age each evening on stage, from being a young disciple to an old man on the Isle of Patmos.”

Throughout the weekend, Pathfinders and their leaders stapled their prayer request cards to the Camporee “Prayer Wall” and paused to pray for “lost kittens, my dad who’s in jail, my grandpa who has ‘old-timers,’ and my brother who ‘brake his soldier.’”

And then there were the “bear prayers.” For many Pathfinders, camping in bear country was a new and frightening experience, especially when they learned a black bear had been seen near the river the day before they arrived. On more than one occasion, Pathfinders who didn’t show eagerness to haul the garbage 1/4 mile from their club’s kitchen to the dumpster outside of camp, were teased. “That’s okay, we’ll just put it in your tent tonight and see if the bears can find you.”

“No! No! I’ll take it,” responded the suddenly motivated Pathfinders.

While stories about bear tracks and sightings near camp flourished, all bears kept to themselves.

Frost covered tents, as temperatures dipped to 28 degrees during the night, then soared into the 70s during the daytime. Tent stakes were a must, as gusts of wind up to 30 miles an hour sometimes descended on the camp.

The adventuresome Milton, Ore., “Rangers,” went whitewater rafting with a local tour operator, as did several other clubs, and came back with quite a story.

“It was wild! We had 60 mile-an-hour winds blowing us upriver! Strong wind gusts pushed us back up the rapids, and we got stuck! That had never happened to our guides,” said Darrin Grabner, counselor for a “Ranger’s” boys’ unit.

“It was impossible to go down the river. Finally, after about an hour, the wind died down a little and we got unstuck and paddled our rafts into the wind and over the rapids again.”

On Fire for Jesus

“Being on fire for Jesus is what counts” said Gary Morgan, a mission pilot for Search For One, Inc. Morgan, who landed his 182 Cessna at Glacier National International Airport in Kalispell, gave Pathfinders who had parental permission slips “rides in the sky” to promote mission aviation.

“It was my first flight in a small plane!” explained Paige Murkle, a 12-year-old Eagle, Idaho, Pathfinder. “Our camp was hard to spot, and the tents and RVs looked like tiny, play toys when we flew over.”

Friday afternoon found Mady Russell and Jordan McGill, and others from their Pocatello, Idaho, Pathfinder unit touring the Pathfinder Heritage Museum, scouting for trivia needed to complete their “Pathfinder Passports.”

Dixie and Arnold Plata transported and set up the traveling museum, which showcases the history of Pathfindering around the world and answers questions such as “Who prepared the 1929 Junior Missionary Volunteer Handbook? Who wrote the first Pathfinder Drill Manual, the Pathfinder song, and who designed the Pathfinder Emblem in 1946?”

Saturday night, before the Northern Cross concert with Frank Peretti, many Pathfinders filled out commitment cards requesting baptismal studies with their club directors and local pastors.

“The reason we get so excited about these events,” said Rob Lang, then Oregon Conference youth director, “is because we know that it’s at events like this where decisions for Christ are made.”

“And, events like this wouldn’t happen without a tremendous commitment of time and energy from so many otherwise busy adults,” said Alphonso McCarthy, North Pacific Union Conference youth director.

“I’m always amazed to see lawyers and engineers and physicians and plumbers—you name it—all taking time away from their jobs to be here with the kids, to make sure this is a life-changing experience.”

“This was wonderful, but I hope it’s the last Camporee we’ll ever have,” said Wayne Hicks, as he addressed the campers near the end. “The next one needs to be in Heaven! The best thanks we can have, as leaders, you’ve already given. We’ve watched you filling out your commitment cards.”

Those commitments are what Northwestern youth leaders believe will continue to serve the mission of the Church in the hearts and lives of its young people, until the Lord comes.

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