August 19, 2014

More Than 600 Pathfinders Baptized at Huge Oshkosh Camporee

, ANN, and
, news editor, Adventist

Hundreds of children aged 10
to 15 accepted the challenge to be “Forever Faithful”
and got baptized at a campout attended by tens of thousands of
Pathfinders in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.

The campout,
held at an airfield in the city of Oshkosh every five years, brought together
44,000 people from North America and another 2,000 from 50 other countries on
Aug. 11-16.

The event,
themed “Forever Faithful,” focused on Daniel, with evening programs offering
theatrical performances from the life of the biblical hero who rose from the lowly
post of captured slave to Babylon’s prime minister thanks to his trust in God.

The programs,
staged in an outdoor amphitheater with five
large video screens, also featured a video summary of the day, puppet acts, Pathfinder
talent showcases, worship songs, and a 10-minute talk by keynote speaker Sam
Leonor, chaplain of La Sierra University in Riverside, California.

Each evening, Leonor summarized a lesson from the latest installment of the
Daniel performance and added a personal anecdote before urging the children to
accept Jesus — the main goal of the event.

“Jesus is forever faithful,” Leonor told the crowd on the evening of Aug. 14.

More than 600 Pathfinders were baptized on the evenings of Aug. 13, 14
and 15 and the morning of the final day, Sabbath, Aug. 16, Daniel Weber,
communication director for the church’s North American Division, said Tuesday.

<strong>DANIEL REENACTED: </strong>Actor Brian Robak, playing King Nebuchadnezzar, losing his crown and wig to a gust of wind during a performance on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. The nightly play at the 2014 Pathfinder Camporee presents lessons from the book of Daniel about staying faithful to God. PHOTO: J. Bokovoy/ANN

This was the fourth
time that the North American Division Pathfinder Camporee, hosted by the
Andrews University-based Center for Youth Evangelism, was held in Oshkosh, a
gathering that increased the city’s population by about 70 percent.

“I’ve never been so
physically exhausted, but I’ve never been happier to be this tired,” Ron
Whitehead, camp organizer and director of the Center for Youth Evangelism, said
at the start of the event, which he said took four years to plan. “We really
care about and value our young people.”

Daily activities
included community service projects such as making arts and crafts with children at a local public library, cleaning
up the Winneconne lakeshore, and pulling weeds, cleaning windows, and loading
trucks at a Salvation Army community center. The children also earned
“honor” patches and participated in various learning activities.

Some Pathfinders
might as well deserve an honor patch for just reaching Oshkosh. Eleven Pathfinders
from the Adventist Church’s Carolina Conference made the 830-mile trip by
bicycle in nearly three weeks. Other Pathfinder clubs spent years organizing
car washes and bake sales to earn the entrance fee of $195 per person, plus
money for travel expenses and supplies.

Unexpected wind and
rain offered the campers a surprise shortly after the camp opened, turning the 500-acre
campground into a muddy field. But few Pathfinders complained.

“It’s been kind of
challenging. Our kitchen tent flew away,” said Terell Rhooms, 15, from the
Frontiers Pathfinder Club at Hope Adventist Church in Toronto, Canada. He spoke
as he waited for the airfield’s hangars to open so he could play basketball, go zip
lining, and try out an obstacle course inside.

came because I heard it was fun,” Rhooms said of the camp. “Everyone said it
was a good experience, good memories, and you draw closer to God.”

Tiffany Fronda, 27,
deputy director of the Challengers Pathfinder Club at the Filipino-American
Adventist Church in Hindsdale, Illinois, said the weather wasn’t great but it
could have been worse.

“The Lord always comes
through,” she said, adding, “At least we don’t have to worry about a
sandstorm,” which occurred at the 1994 campout in Colorado.

“Honestly, the
atmosphere here is amazing and powerful,” said Angelica Chan, a three-time Oshkosh attendee and a member
of the Pleasant Hill Pathfinder Club in California. She shared her impressions
in an eyewitness report published in Spectrum Magazine. “It's
incredible to have so many Adventist youth gathered together to worship God

Related links

, Aug. 13, 2014: “2014 Adventist Pathfinder Camporee Off to an Energetic Start, If a Bit of a Wet One”

ANN, Aug. 15, 2014: “At Pathfinder Camporee, Daniel Reenactments Deliver Big Lessons From Big Stage”

Aug. 15, 2014: “Bike for Life group pedals to Oshkosh from North Carolina”

Spectrum Magazine, Aug. 17, 2014: “Eyewitness Report: Oshkosh Pathfinder Camporee”