September 16, 2009

26CN: At Camporee, Popular ADRA Refugee Experience Hosts Thousands

At Camporee, Popular ADRA Refugee
Experience Hosts Thousands

Exhibit was among most popular at event

BY NADIA MCGILL, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, writing from Silver Spring, Maryland

capMore than 10,000 visitors had the opportunity to see life through the eyes of a refugee at the Adventist Development and Relief Agency’s (ADRA) Refugee Experience exhibit, an interactive, multi-activity display that was recently showcased at the 2009 International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.


HELPING HANDS: ADRA’s marketing chief Julio Muñoz, right, reaches for a box of school kits for Colombian children, part of 10,000 such kits packed and loaded for shipment at the 2009 International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. [Photo: ADRA]

Visitors to ADRA’s Refugee Experience were able to see first hand the way in which millions of refugees and displaced persons live each day. After registering at the refugee camp entrance, visitors received an orange wristband acknowledging their new displaced status before entering the main camp, which included refugee shelters, cooking areas, a health clinic, a makeshift latrine, and a fire pit. Simultaneous tours provided information about the camp, life as a refugee, and the everyday challenges people face in a real refugee camp.

“Each year, millions of people around the world are forced from their homes into overcrowded camps that often lack adequate access to some of the most basic necessities, including food, clean water and decent sanitation,” said Hearly Mayr, director for Public Awareness for ADRA International, and exhibit coordinator. “This exhibit helps to tell their story.”

In the exhibit’s pack-a-box section, participants packed in two days 10,000 school kits destined for displaced children in Colombia. On Friday, August 14, volunteers loaded 1,000 boxes containing the school kits onto a 40-foot container in under an hour. The shipment is scheduled to arrive in Colombia in early September, where it will be distributed in one of the most impoverished regions of the country.

“Being able to help pack and box supplies, and just to see and feel the excitement of the Pathfinders was amazing,” said Gabrielle Williams, 22, master guide for the Pathfinder club at the Hebron Seventh-day Adventist Church in Houston, Texas. “It was a wonderful experience. As Pathfinders, that is what it is all about—service!”

In addition, more than 6,000 Pathfinders attended ADRA’s Disaster Response Level 1 class, obtaining the first ADRA honor offered at an international Camporee. Attendees learned about natural and man-made disasters, their effect on communities, and how ADRA and other humanitarian organizations are helping communities recover from these disasters.

The International Pathfinder Camporee, which was held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin from August 11 to 15, takes place every five years, and is designed primarily for Seventh-day Adventist youth involved in the Pathfinder program, which is similar to the scouting movement, but with an emphasis on spiritual training and community service.

At the Camporee, youths participated in meetings, community service events, and competitions to help foster unity, fellowship, and spiritual growth. More than 35,000 people from 40 countries attended the event, and 550 youngsters were baptized during services on Sabbath, August 15. Preparations for the 2014 International Pathfinder Camporee, also slated for Oshkosh, are already underway.    
                                                                                            — With additional reporting by Adventist Review staff.