I can’t end this year without sharing one of greatest highlights of it, which was my weeklong trip with my church Pathfinder Club-The Chosen- in Oshkosh, Wisconsin this past August. To those who have been waiting for me to write about my experience, I apologize for the wait. I suppose writing about one of my highlights is fitting for the last day of the year.

Sponsored by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the International Pathfinder Camporee is a week long event that happens every five years. Thousands, including Pathfinders; staff; and parents, from many parts of the globe all come together for to meet and greet other believers; earn honors; march in parades; display their God given gifts, and worship with one another. More than 50,000 people from over 80 countries were in attendance this year.

Until Oshkosh I had never longed for a bed more in my life. Make no mistake I love camping and cherish all my time outdoors, but being in a tent for a whole week made me miss my queen sized bed in own apartment. Despite the evening and morning chill as I bundled up in my sleeping bag in my own tent, everything that went on that week was enough to make me take my mind off the sleeping arrangements.

Every morning, my conference, the Kentucky Tennessee Conference, would come together underneath a big white tent to have morning worship which included song service; prayer; a short message; and announcements.

That week there were plenty of opportunities for all Pathfinders and staff to earn honors, such as Indian Lore; Photography; Lighthouse; Literature Evangelism; Origami; Bible Marking; Astronomy; Remember the Sabbath; and many more. Though our club couldn’t do all the honors being held, we the staff were able to help the youth earn as many as they possibly could.

Though the kids of my club appeared to have the time of their lives on this weeklong trip, they were not allowed to just sit around and let us adults do all the work. Each of our youth was given the opportunity to prepare the meals, and all of us made sure that our campsite was kept clean before turning in for the night.

This year’s theme of the camporee was entitled Chosen, and it centered around one unlikely; young shepherd/poet who was chosen by God to lead His people. That person was David, the slayer of Goliath the giant, the man who wrote many Psalms, and perhaps Israel’s most famous monarch.

As the camporee evening shows explained, two men were chosen by God to lead His people. One man(Saul) has it all, yet he hardens his heart, doesn’t do what God commands, and is too proud to admit his faults. The other(David) loves the Lord with all his heart, and even if he doubts and messes up later on in his life as most of us know, he always comes back to God and repents. Just like Saul and David, we too are chosen. We may not be chosen to be monarchs or politicians, but God can call on us to do other things. Will you be like Saul or will you be as David?

Before the evening shows, many in attendance were baptized in the pools in front the main stage. In the name of the father, son, and Holy Spirit, all were submerged in water and rose from the waters as symbol they were made anew

The highlight for Clarksville SDA Church Pathfinder Club Director Jose Alba was seeing how many people/youth gave them selves to Christ (baptism); over 1000 people in one week.

In my entire life I don’t recall ever being in a setting quite like the one at Oshkosh. Not even my show choir trip to Disney World eight years ago compares. Yes with both places you have so many people of different tongues, colors, and nationalities coming together. But in my opinion, what makes Oshkosh outshine Disney, is that that everyone who comes is united in Christ.

“The highlight for this years camporee was seeing old friends I haven’t seen in years,”said Adriel Garcia. “It also touched me to see so many Christians in one place. All those people love Jesus just like me. It helped me not to feel so alone in this world.”

Speaking of old friends, while there I received a message from Andrew Coelho, a friend who attended my church before moving away with his family a couple years ago. He just so happened to be there at the camporee as well. As I greeted my old friend in person, I drifted back to us being in his father’s sabbath school teen class; singing together for church special music; and all the fun times his family invited me and the other youth over to their home to fellowship with one another.

(Above pic. Year 2010!!!!!!!OH MY!)

(Us in 2019 with hair on our faces)

Due to time I could only tell him a summary of what I’m up to nowadays. I told him I moved out not too long ago, how I met an amazing woman, and that I’m still in love with Christ and ministering about him in new ways such as pathfinder club and the Adventist youth program. I was so proud to hear that Andrew’s family is doing well, that he is still in the church, and he works in Minnesota Church Conference.

Throughout the week there was a lot of pin trading between not only the youth but the adults as well. Believe it or not pin trading is an honor in the Pathfinder program. How does this pertain to Christ, you ask. It is more than just obtaining shiny things that will look good on your denim, bags, or hats. It’s a lesson in giving. It is an opportunity to interact with others and learn a little bit more about them. To fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ and form friendships.

My church Pathfinder club certainly did quite a bit pin trading, as well as mingle with other believers. We all left with a variety of pins we either bought or traded. My favorite trade was with a 17 year old named Daniel. Before meeting him I bought a pin the size of my palm which depicted this year’s camporee logo along with the previous international camporees on each side. On top of the pin was the glad of the Dominican Republic. Daniel just happened to be from the Dominican Republic and from what little I gathered just by our brief time talking, he seemed to love the Lord.

So I happily gave him my pin. In exchange he gave me two pin sets. One set was a three set of the Alberta Conference, and the other was a 3 piece puzzle piece set of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego

The trip was also a lesson in patience and guidance, because I helped supervise our youth for an entire week. Our group was a joy to be around, but let’s just say that I got a long way to go before I’m ready to embark on the path of parenthood. I like to think all my time spent witnessing to younger generations is a preparation for the days to come.

One of the highlights for me was the music. Every day there I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing someone sing the word “chosen” from this year’s camporee theme song.

I have a short video of the last night. Everyone waving their phones in the air, as if letting their lights shine for the world to see. It was so incredibly fitting to do so as we sung the stanza, “We are chosen/ Chosen/ To bring your light to the world”

I still can’t get this year’s theme song out of my head. Please hit the link if you wish to hear it. (I DO NOT OWN THE MUSIC IN THIS VIDEO.)

Back home where I live I have seen youth come and go from the church, even some declaring that church is a bore. But this event demonstrated to me that there are indeed many young people who genuinely love the Lord. They just need to be given the attention, which is why we have youth programs like Pathfinders Club, Adventurer Club, and AY.

I wish that I had had the opportunity to discover the International Camporee growing up. I encourage the youth as well as the adults who are parents and or Pathfinder Staff to please attend the next International Camporee. While you’re there you can make good memories, find yourself, make new friends, and strengthen your connection to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for reading, and God Bless!

By David Harris

I was born on January 31, 1992. I graduated from Austin Peay State University in December 2015 with a B.S. My major was Communications, with a concentration in Print & Web Journalism. My minor was English, with a concentration in Creative Writing. Writing is my passion. I’m a book lover. I prefer to to be called a Booklion rather than a bookworm. Why- lions are mightier.
My first love is Jesus Christ. I was raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. No we are not a cult. We are Christians who worship on Saturday.
I have been stuttering since I was four, but through Christ I have persevered through it and will continue to do so. I’m not thing with Him.
Singing is another passion of mine. God blessed with me with the gift of song, which I am grateful for.