December 1, 2019

Modeling, Mentoring, Mantling

Sue Bargas, director of the Arvada Golden Eagles Pathfinder Club in the Rocky Mountain Conference, United States, does the work of 20 people, according to one of her former Pathfinders, Alonna Dickhaut. “She’s compassionate, selfless, and always puts Pathfinders first,” Alonna said.

Sue began working with Pathfinders as an assistant in 1985 and became club director in 1994. She has brought her club (averaging 10 members) to every International Pathfinder Camporee except one, and that was because there were no kids able to come that year.

The Arvada Adventist church has diverse international representation, including members from Ghana, Mexico, Peru, Uganda, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Bolivia, and Russia. Sue and her husband, Al, the club’s handyman and inventor, are able to draw most of the youth into Pathfinders.

Among those they have attracted and mentored over the past few years are sisters Akua Boatemaa and Akua Frimpomaa Owusu-Ansah, both of whom are now directing Pathfinder clubs of their own in other locations. The eldest sister, Akua Boatemaa, who was invested as a Master Guide by Sue in 2009, is leading the Renton Warriors in the Washington Conference region. The younger, Akua Frimpomaa, who was invested by Sue at the most recent International Pathfinder Camporee, is directing the Fargo Falcons in the Dakota Conference.

Alonna, who was a student at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2018, was also a member of the Golden Eagles club during the years the two sisters attended. Now she instructs the Tulsa Twisters drill team in the Oklahoma Conference.

“We reconnect during camp meetings or Pathfinder Bible Experiences,” Akua Frimpomaa said. “We share close friendships and are tightly bonded.”

This mentoring is intentional, and Sue believes it is one of the most rewarding benefits of Pathfinders.

“Many of our Pathfinders come from a long distance to church,” Sue explained, “and they can only come once a week. So we have potluck and Pathfinders on Sabbath afternoon, then we open the gym in the evening and play games and have snacks. We just stay all day for those who want to.”

Leadership Continues to Expand

One of the Bargases’ greatest strengths is organization. Al converted a trailer for the club, so that it has a place to hang uniforms and shelves for storing supplies and camping gear. He also incorporated a camping sink and a solar water heater. “The more organized you start, the easier it is!” Sue exclaimed.

Sue’s three mentees all agree that she is very organized with managing the paperwork and forms and communicating with parents. “A lot of the things I do in my club are exactly what Sue did,” Akua Boatemaa said. “She taught us how to do things and how to learn responsibility.”

Sue’s former Pathfinders recall that they had “the best Pathfinder room ever.” Each member had his or her own cubbyhole. A beautiful mural painted on the wall illustrates the Golden Eagles’ club verse, Isaiah 40:31, that reads, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

At Akua Frimpomaa’s Red River church in Fargo, North Dakota, her club leads out on Pathfinder Sabbath and in Teen Leadership Training (TLT) preaching. “We have a good support system,” she said. “We reward Pathfinders for attendance and following instructions.” Each year, she gives out a Pathfinder Girl and Pathfinder Boy of the Year award to outstanding youth.

Rocky Mountain Conference has a reputation for a strong TLT program. “Sue put me in a leadership position when I was the oldest TLT, which made me feel like I was responsible for the others. The reason I stayed in Pathfinders was because of my leadership position,” Akua Boatemaa said.“Now I am finding teen Pathfinders to start mentoring.”

Alonna is also giving responsibilities to teens in her club. “I’m a junior staff, but I am still mentoring,” she said.

Four years after they went their separate ways, this diverse group of four Pathfinder leaders is still connecting, still learning from one another, and still focused on growing relationships for eternity as they pass on the mantle of leadership.

The original version of this story was posted on the Mid-America Union Outlook magazine.