PAA Pathfinders Are TLTs in Action

November 01, 2012 | Liesl Vistaunet

More than 10 percent of the Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) student body participates in the Pathfinder Teen Leadership Training (TLT) program. In all, 24 PAA students and TLTs from the Pleasant Valley Church (Happy Valley, Ore.), Sunnyside Church (Portland, Ore.) and Rockwood Church (Gresham, Ore.) clubs attended the North Pacific Union Conference Pathfinder Camporee in Astoria, Ore., in September.

TLT camporee responsibilities ranged from planning meals, grocery shopping and budgeting to leading younger Pathfinders in music and service activities like beach cleanup.

The TLT students have a lot to gain. Tracy Woods, Oregon Conference youth ministries associate director, says, "Our Pathfinders department and Walla Walla University are granting TLT scholarships for students who participate in Teen Leadership Training throughout their academy or high school years." Stephanie Graham, a 2012 PAA graduate, received such a scholarship.

The teens are also learning hands-on skills as they serve on church finance committees, help with church administrative duties and sometimes attend church board meetings.

Mareliza DeJesus, PAA senior and Pleasant Valley Church TLT, is known for her work ethic and responsibility both at church and school. "The TLT program has helped me move past some of my comfort zones," says DeJesus. "I'm learning how to deal with other people's leadership styles and to manage group work projects."

"I know PAA's TLTs, and they are outstanding young people," Woods says. "I baptized Mareliza and have had Caleb Bibb speak in my place." TLTs hold a special place in his heart, and he wants to know every TLT on a first-name basis. "They are my kids, my youth group," he says.

Maria Bibb, PAA teacher and parent of three TLTs, believes the TLT program is doing permanent good. "If we're going to have a growing church we need to train our kids how [to] serve and trust them with responsibilities," she says. "I believe this program is the future of our church."