Teen Pathfinders Minister During Spring Break
“Why are you here?” This is the question asked of 77 teen Pathfinders and their staff members on the night of their arrival at Teen Pathfinder Mission Adventure (TPMA) 2016, this year held at Camp MiVoden on Hayden Lake, Idaho. The teens and staff give up their spring break to attend a week of service for others. Why do they come?
“I wanted to see friends again and serve God doing mission work,” says Joshua Streit, who is a member of the Missoula Nemissoolatakoo Pathfinder Club, a second-year attendee. “My favorite part of the day is morning worship. We sing songs, and I like music,” he adds. “Singing is a way to worship God.”
The Pathfinders are divided into groups along with several staff members. Each group is assigned to a specific project every morning. This year, some teams remained at Camp MiVoden, assisting in various projects such as cleaning up wind damage from November's windstorm, building a new shed to house an emergency generator and clearing an area for Pathfinder club camping sites.
Other groups went into the community and to Farragut State Park, fixing up around the homes of some community members and cleaning up storm damage at both sites. Monday, a team visited a homeless outreach center in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where they painted and prepared a gravel parking area.
Each day one team is assigned to work in the kitchen, preparing meals and cleaning the cafeteria between meals. Megan McCormick and her teammate Melody were among those assigned to kitchen patrol on the first day. Both admitted that what they enjoyed most about the day was running the pressure washer to clean the refrigerator shelves.
McCormick belongs to the Deer Park Mountaineer Pathfinder club and was attending for the first time. When questioned about why she chose to attend this year, she said, “I've always wanted to do mission service, and I was excited to help people. I wanted to meet new friends, too.”
This is the 20th year for Teen Pathfinder Mission Adventure. Steve Meharry of the Walla Walla (Wash.) Waiilatpu Club organized the first TPMA in 1997 in Ritter, Ore. He noted that many teens couldn't get the mission trip experience because of the cost of travel, visas and other expensive requirements. Not only is the cost somewhat high, but the time involved in traveling to a foreign country often conflicts with other time requirements such as schooling or jobs.
Meharry envisioned a program that teen Pathfinders could attend that would give them the mission trip experience without the high cost and loss of time. “It's been a real privileged and blessing to be involved with God's young people (teen Pathfinders) for these past 20 years, serving others the way Jesus did when He walked this earth,” says Meharry. He has organized TPMA events all over Washington, North Idaho and into Oregon.
The Pathfinder teams have taken on several major projects, from building cabins and sheds and helping out at homeless shelters to fixing up churches and offering free car washes, to name a few. And of course, every year has its share of painting, cleaning and yard work.
Looking back over 20 years of service, Meharry finds it hard to pinpoint one or even a few favorite memories. “My favorite memories of all are teen Pathfinders taking a stand to follow Jesus and being baptized,” he says. This is the ultimate goal of the mission-focused adventure.