Why a Camporee of this scale? Well, the organizers have their own answer: “The purpose of International Camporees is to celebrate the importance of and spiritual influence of Pathfinder ministry. These events have become a leadership and spiritual right of passage for youth and adults. They have also become a gathering place for world leaders who understand the importance of this generation and their value to the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
This is more than a week of camping, activities and fun. It is also a time to celebrate the mission of Pathfinders, to meet with Pathfinders from around the world, to know that none of us are alone in our challenges and struggles. By meeting together, by sharing time and fellowship, we can reinforce one-another in faith, in perseverance and in love. Yes, there will be plenty of fun, and activities, and events. But throughout, the theme runs strong - we can be Forever Faithful to God in all aspects of our lives.
The SAILs will leave very early August 8, and head to St. Louis. There, we will be spending time with a local church (and several former SAILs) and visiting local sites, including the Arch, and the Cahokia Mounds, one of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the continental United States. It is interesting to think that right there, in the center of the nation, where American western expansion would later start off from, there was once, long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, thriving cities once stood along the Mississippi River. With several members of the SAILs studying native American Lore this year, this is an opportunity to see what remains of a very different native lifestyle. (You can learn more about the Cahokia site at http://cahokiamounds.org/, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/198, and http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/01/cahokia/hodges-text.)
The SAILs arrive in Oshkosh on Monday, to set up and prepare for the week-long Camporee. During the day, the SAILs will have a chance to meet with Pathfinders from all over the world, to visit displays and exhibits highlighting Adventist heritage, U.S. history, and cultures from across the seas. There are honors to work on, ranging from blacksmithing to model hot air balloons to study of the Biblical Sanctuary. There will be a Civil War era encampment, a recreation of the Jamestown settlement, the Pathfinder traveling museum, the history of space flight and numerous other areas to visit. The SAILs are also taking part in a community service project one day, a Camporee parade, and of course the evening programs. Each evening, around the main stage, the 48,000 participants will gather to watch the story of Daniel unfold, and to join in song and prayer with one another.
For those not going to Oshkosh, you can keep up with the Pathfinders in several ways. The Texas Conference Youth Department will create day in review videos following Texas Pathfinders (youtube.com/txyouth). The Hope Channel is broadcasting the evening programs and the Sabbath morning service live on the Hope Channel and at http://hopetv.org. These run Tue-Fri 8:00-9:30PM, Sabbath 9:30-10:30AM and 8:00-9:30PM - all Central Time Zone. Camporee.org, the official website of the camporee, will also have updates.
The SAILs would like to than all those who have supported us during our first five years and in fundraising and activities as we have prepared for the 2014 Forever Faithful International Camporee. It has been a long wait, and a lot of preparation, but we are almost there!