Pathfinder Offers a Pocket Full of Thoughts
We stood with our faces lifted to the sky watching the brilliance of golds, purples, greens, reds, blues, pinks and other colors explode and dazzle in the sky. The end of the Forever Faithful International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wis., had finally come to an end. I say "finally" in a melancholy tone, surely not an excited "let's get this over with" type of intonation. We were all ready to go home, and yet none of us wanted it to be over.
The week began with pitching camp in a raining downpour. If canines and felines could mysteriously be converted into giant drops of precipitation, then this would have surely been a "raining cats and dogs" type of event. We were cold but lucky. The Montana Conference had been given a relatively high patch of ground with a nice amount of grass. Other groups hadn't fared so well. We woke up dry underneath the tent's fly; others woke up in temporary lakes of water and mud.
With as much foreboding as the first night and half day seemed to bring, it didn't last. With the promise of seeing friends for the first time in more than four years, who could be overly downcast? There is seriously nothing quite so fun as suddenly looking up to see the faces of some such friends. We stood out in the drizzling rain catching up and simply having a grand time, until someone mentioned, "Hey, when did it stop raining?" Soon after the sun came out, and we were bathed in sunlight. Well, part of us was. The other half was still caked in mud. The roads were giant abysses of brown goo and our shoes their faithful mud-transporting servants.
The rest of the week, being sunny and hot, allowed us to see the wonders of this great event. More than 47,000 Pathfinders from every state in the union and more than 60 different countries participated in pin-trading, parade-marching, honor-earning and memory-making. In every direction, one could see people gathered in "pin-trading knots" exchanging their conferences' (or clubs') specially designed pins. Every day a parade was held, and over the course of the week every club had a chance to march. Between these things, the ventriloquist shows, the BMX show, a petting zoo and a live lion, there was never a moment of boredom.
As splendid as the daytime events were, the nighttime programs were even better. There are few things as intensely inspiring as singing worship songs with 47,000 people, trust me. It is enough to send shivers down anyone's spinal chord. Every night four Pathfinders had prayer; two spoke in English and two spoke in languages such as Spanish, Russian, French, Cantonese and Swahili. Then there was the play on the Forever Faithful life of Daniel (and the lions).
And then at last, we stood staring at the dazzling blasts of fireworks. The rain had welcomed us, and now it was bidding us farewell. The wisps of hair not pulled into ponytails were clinging to our faces like silly string. Some of our clothes were damp, and some were sopping. (Umbrellas have little use when the wind is blowing cold droplets at you from the side.) We were tired, cold, dirty, inspired and blissfully happy. To look around and know that every person you see, from all nations, cultures, and ethnicities of the world, believe what you believe is amazing. To remember the heritage of your faith and why you believe it ... is truly amazing. It is in times like that I remember why I am a Christian and why I am proud to be a Christian, why am a Pathfinder and why I am proud to be a Pathfinder, and why I am a Seventh-day Adventist and why I am proud to be Seventh-day Adventist.