More than 3,000 Pathfinders and staff from across Australia gathered for the Australian Union Conference (AUC) “Treasured” Camporee from January 3 to 8, 2023.
Clubs were welcomed at the opening ceremony by AUC youth ministries director Jeff Parker. Other special guests included South Pacific Division (SPD) ministry and strategy associate director Nick Kross, AUC president Terry Johnson, and Ron Whitehead, children’s, youth, and young adult ministries director at Lake Union Conference in Michigan, United States.
The five-day event, held on a property 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Tumbarumba in rural New South Wales, was split into six subcamps, with two chaplains and a subcamp leader allocated to each section. Pathfinders participated in a wide range of outdoor activities based on the camporee theme “Treasured” — focused on Mary Magdalene, and how she found her worth in Jesus.
Clubs gathered during the evenings to hear Sydney-based speaker Raul Moran. The nightly worships also included a highlight video from each day, special items from the Pathfinders, and drama presentations.
Severe weather warnings were issued throughout the week, with storms predicted on several days. However, none of the predicted storms reached the campsite. “We witnessed one weather-related miracle after another each day, which was inspiring, and we thank God for that,” Johnson said.
AUC resource development and children’s ministry director Tony Knight and resource development coordinator Amanda Bews launched the newest edition of TheHunter Chroniclesbook series during the morning worship program on Saturday (Sabbath).
“It was a real treat for Amanda and I to launch the newest Hunter Chroniclesbook, Hunter and the High Country Heist, at the Treasured camporee,” Knight said. “Even more exciting is that almost 1,000 people went home with copies of the new book. From the huge number of kids and leaders that stopped by to chat with us, it’s obvious that there is a huge need for more home-grown spiritual adventure stories for [Australian] kids.”
Bews said she appreciated receiving the children’s feedback about the books. “Lots of Pathfinders visited our display over the weekend, sharing with us which stories they liked best. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to talk with them about the series and hear the impact the books are making in their lives,” she said.
On Sabbath, January 7, clubs participated in a combined activity followed by the baptism of five Pathfinders who chose to dedicate their lives to God. “[We thank] the Holy Spirit for inspiring more than 700 decisions for baptism, making this the best evangelism campaign in Australia!” Johnson said.
“Pathfinder camporees are significant memory events that impact the lives of the Pathfinders,” Parker added. “They become anchor points in their Christian development. Many Pathfinders make lifelong decisions to follow Jesus at camporees. Many hundreds of our Pathfinders chose to have Bible studies and be baptized in the future.
“Pathfinders is the best mentoring program that we offer as a church. The intergenerational connections that are created impact the life of the Pathfinder. This informal mentoring cannot be underestimated; it is truly life-changing,” he said.