Oregon Pathfinders Take on Pathfinder Challenge

November 16, 2017 | Marion Pielaet

As kids head back to school many of them are sharing great memories of their summer time, stories of summer camp or vacations with the family. For some they are telling of their adventures at the Pathfinder Challenge, which was held the first weekend of August at an old timber farm in Sweet Home, Ore.

Rod Bardell, Willamette District coordinator and owner of the timber farm, allowed the Oregon Conference Pathfinders to camp there for their challenge. It was a perfect place for Pathfinders to experience some logging history by camping in a forest with a beautiful creek alongside. It is an event many kids look forward to as a way of acquiring new skills that challenge them and learning how to use these skills in a way that benefits others. In this way they are learning service for Christ because they can use these practical and problem-solving skills to help others in their daily lives and open up new opportunities to share the gospel.

Bob and Connie Gaede, teen event coordinators for the Oregon Conference, started the Pathfinder Challenge 16 years ago as a way to reach kids who want that little extra challenge of their skills and abilities. Today Bob has a team of 11 Pathfinder leaders who come together every year to brainstorm a challenge for the kids who want to go above and beyond what they have learned in their Pathfinder honor classes.

With the offer of the timber farm, a logging theme became the idea for this year’s Pathfinder Challenge. The directors of the Meadow Glade (Battle Ground, Wash.) Pathfinders, Taylor and Crystal Kielman, led out in organizing worship and activities for the Pathfinders who were up for the challenge. Pathfinders arrived Friday for evening worship and started their Sabbath with introductions and sharing stories of their own Christian walks. The next morning they started the day with worship thoughts of pioneers of faith from the Bible and the challenge to tell their teammates stories of pioneers of faith they remember.

Then came the long-awaited first challenge in an envelope for the teams to open and work together to accomplish. Team Hillsboro were the first ones ready to receive the first challenge. With vigor and enthusiasm they read, "Timber!" With this challenge they learned the old ways of measuring a tree height using a stick and then checking their answers using a clinometer. With that measurement they found a safe place to have the tree fall. Pathfinders chopped their tree the right way to have it fall in the right place. With this skill pathfinders learned the value of keeping the forest healthy by choosing which trees needed to come down to help the growth of surrounding trees. Team Hillsboro took their 30-foot tree down with no trouble and was great at encouraging other teams to meet their first challenge.

The next envelope came with the challenge "Da Vinci bridge!"

Fort Vancouver exceled here by taking the time to follow the da Vinci model taught to them. This bridge is held together with no fasteners. Boards are held together by leverage and gravity. The Pathfinders on the team rejoiced as they walked across their own bridge. With their bandanas of pictures from London everyone laughed when Fort Vancouver tried to make do many adjustments to their bridge to perfect it and their bridge came falling down. “Oh, London bridge came falling down,” they all said with big smiles. All the kids at the challenge learned the value of working together to create something that everyone could lean on to walk over the creek. In their imagination it was a bridge over trouble waters.

On to the next challenge, "Picture Perfect Pioneers."

With this challenge, Pathfinders dressed like loggers with their team holding up a 12-foot, two-man saw. Team Hillsboro really got into this challenge with their dress and poses as pioneer loggers. No one could match their continued enthusiasm.

By mid-Sabbath Pathfinders were given another challenge, "Log Jam!" Pathfinders were instructed to push a log of their choice across one of the Gordon Lakes. All the teams came together each with their own 30-foot logs to create a log jam in the middle of the lake for a devotional time together. The Kielmans told the story of Frank Hutchins who was a missionary in the Bay Islands of central Africa. Hutchins's life was an example of how God can use the new skills we learn to bless others and share the gospel. With all the Pathfinders had accomplished at the Pathfinder Challenge this story gave them encouragement they could do anything for the Lord.

As Sabbath was coming to an end Taylor Kielman gave another worship talk about a well-known pioneer for the gospel, Paul, who did many things not by his own might, but by Gods Strength. Kielman challenged everyone to be a pioneer for the gospel like Paul who looked to Jesus self-sacrificing life, death, resurrection and heavenly mission. And just like Paul, Kielman challenged everyone to let the love of God empower, shine and activate them in their mission here. With this thought all went to bed looking forward to the next day’s big and final challenge that they would have before going home.

During Sunday morning's "Trail Blazing Pathfinders!" challenge, Pathfinders made the way for others. Taking what was learned the previous day and adding some new skills to the project, Pathfinders were challenged to make a path through the forest. Teams worked vigorously to clear the path of vegetation, roots and rocks. Teams had a marked section of trail to build and two bridges to construct. Teams hauled logs from the trees they had sawed into lengths the previous morning. Using their engineering and lashing skills, two log bridges were built to create two stream crossings.

Team Meadow Glade took the lead on this challenge. It looked like such a daunting task. Inspired by Meadow Glade’s determination to accomplish the task at hand, team after them found strength to do the same, and, working together, they created something truly beautiful.

May we all be inspired by the life of Christ and of pioneers who came before us to stand with courage the challenges that face us every day. May we always remember that the mission is for heaven and our job is to make a path for others to follow us there, discipling those who come behind us as we were discipled by those who blazed the trail before us. Through the power of Christ, we are overcomers.