It is hard to feel hungry at the Trans-European Division (TED) Pathfinder Camporee in Ardingly, West Sussex, England, since the volunteers at the food distribution center work tirelessly to supply the needs of 4,000 campers with wholesome vegetarian fare.
Yet Friday evening, Melissa Myklebust, an animated youth pastor from Norway, walked through the auditorium filled with Pathfinders clutching her stomach and complaining of hunger pangs.
All became clear as she gradually moved the young people away from thoughts of the “plenty” in Egypt toward trust in God and the timely provision of manna to His people. Appropriately at that moment, “manna” began flying over the back of the stage, covering the floor with a white layer. Hundreds of pre-prepared packs of “manna” were sitting on the front of the stage as a gift to campers who, this week, have been learning the lessons of Israel from their Exodus experience.
A High Sabbath
The campers learned another, moving lesson about Israel Friday evening as worship moved toward sunset.
Israeli Pathfinders are guests at the camporee, and as the sun dropped low in the sky outside, the Israeli club came onto the platform. They lit two special oil-filled torches, read a blessing in Hebrew, and sang traditional Hebrew songs to welcome in the Sabbath.
Sabbath means rest, and after a good night in warm, dry weather, Pathfinders woke up to a bright, sunny Saturday (Sabbath). Dressed in their uniforms, the entire group joined in a drum parade, circling the whole camp and then heading into the hall for worship.
This activity climaxed in the baptism of 12 Pathfinders — including one who had made the decision at a previous camporee but who found Pathfinders so important that he waited to be baptized at this event. Another girl shared that she had been following Jesus but now wanted to make a full public commitment, dedicating her entire life to Him. Each of the 12 had a story to tell.
Linking baptism and the Red Sea experience, the entire Pathfinder group then left the auditorium through a giant barn door whose entrance was surrounded by a sea of blue and white balloons. These represented the parting of the Red Sea and, for some, was equally as moving as the baptism.
“I am still going like ‘waaaaww,’ at this,” Isah Nkomo-Nyathi said. “What an illustration of crossing the Red Sea! Amazing, so amazing.”
Pointing to Christ
The Swedish group hosted a variety of Sabbath afternoon activities with options for puzzles, art, and secret runners. The evening climaxed with the most vibrant singing of the whole week — including a double rendition of the theme song as its composer, 14-year-old Elijah Evans, was publicly acknowledged by the praise team.
What followed was a clear explanation of the sanctuary as Myklebust showed how each of the symbols points to Christ and touches an aspect of their own Christian experience, whether forgiveness, baptism, witnessing, faithfulness, or prayer.
In a practical exercise, tabernacle stations were set up along the walls, where Pathfinders placed heart stickers on the part of the sanctuary that was touching their lives at that moment. “The message was spot on, right on target,” stated one of the leaders from the Welsh club.
Many Pathfinders had taken the opportunity to visit a walk-in model of the tabernacle during activity periods, including Sabbath afternoon. As the sun set Sabbath evening, it was yet another opportunity for Pathfinders to reflect on trust, on God’s goodness, and on His desire to be their friend.