70 Pathfinders Baptized at Australia’s Largest Camporee

Thousands of young people pledge to serve Jesus as the iThirst camporee wraps up.

70 Pathfinders Baptized at Australia’s Largest Camporee

, South Pacific Adventist Record

The largest-ever Pathfinder camporee on Australian soil ended with thousands of young people pledging to serve Jesus, including more than 70 young people who were baptized and 456 who requested baptism.

An additional 1,430 Pathfinders from around the Adventist Church’s South Pacific Division asked for Bible studies as the five-day iThirst camporee wrapped up on Sabbath, Jan. 10, at the Toowoomba Showgrounds in Queensland.

The outpouring of interest in Jesus from the nearly 8,000 Pathfinders aged 10 to 15 didn’t end there. Some 1,600 said they wanted to connect or reconnect with Jesus, and 2,238 declared that they were ready to serve Him.

“When I look at you in your uniforms, I don’t see kids, I see an army of young people with potential to do great work for the Lord,” said Maveni Kaufononga, youth ministries director for the church’s Trans-Pacific Union Mission, which comprises 11 counties, including Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

The details of the young people who made commitments to Jesus will be passed on to local youth directors and church pastors for follow-up.

Flags fluttering in the wind as thousands of Pathfinders line up on the Toowoomba Showgrounds during the camporee. Photo: Kent Kingston
Pathfinders marching at the iThirst camporee. Photo: Kent Kingston

A sometimes boisterous closing ceremony on Saturday night featured spontaneous chanting and waving of national flags as well as the more formal thank-you speeches and marches.

Pathfinders enthusiastically participated in praise songs, and some of their leaders acknowledged that the energy level was a little high for their taste. The live streaming of the event by Living Ministry Media added extra interest, with Pathfinders excitedly waving every time they saw themselves on the big screen.

A theatrical drama that was performed by actors daily closed with a risen Christ commissioning His friends to care for the hurting and to spread the gospel. The special effects highlight of the camporee was the ascension of Jesus into the clouds, courtesy of a cable and harness and stage smoke.

For his closing sermon, featured speaker and Avondale College Church pastor Eddie Hypolite used 1 John 1:3: “That which have seen and heard, we proclaim also to you.”

Zeroing in on the self-consciousness that is common among people of Pathfinder age, he urged the audience to be bold in identifying themselves as Christians and to express their faith clearly and authentically in everyday situations.

“Share your life,” he said. “Share your life. Share your life.”

The scale of the iThirst camporee produced some mind-boggling logistical issues. Andrew Wanke, the camporee accountant, was surprised to receive a single receipt for food purchases of US$11,400 (14,000 Australian dollars).

The materials used to build the main stage would fill five semi-trailers, and the 200 LED screens tiled together to make the 10 meter by 5 meter (33 foot by 16.5 foot) big screen weighed 2.5 tons.

But it was not all high technology and big bucks. Significant creativity went into making the theatrical set. Materials used included disposable plastic dinner plates, swimming pool noodles, and lengths of garden hose.

Water was a recurring motif at iThirst, which used as its key text Jesus’ words in John 4:13, 14, “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.” Many of the daytime activities involved water, some of it admittedly very muddy, which was perfect for staying cool during Toowoomba’s sunny days.

Curiously, the camporee also struggled with water shortages in some areas, with the showground’s water supply stretched past its limit at times. Never before had 8,000 people camped at the venue.

“I have only one word for you guys,” Gilbert Cangy, the world leader of Adventist Youth, told the campers. “If you thirst, look to Jesus.”

Pathfinders at the start of the camporee telling Australia’s The Chronicle newspaper about what they are looking forward to doing.