Did you see it? I don’t think I did? Are you sure you saw it? What is “It” you ask… Summer! I think it was just here, and kids were out of school for like a day and a half, but now they are back and the days are getting shorter and cooler, so that must mean that summer was here at one point in time in the recent past!
This summer was one for us to remember and I’m sure many of you can say the same! Our summer began with Pathfinder Fair! One of our largest and favorite events of the year! Fair brings our Wisconsin Pathfinders to camp to celebrate the achievements and skills learned throughout the pathfinder year! This year we had Rich “The Mud/Dino Guy” Aguilera, who challenged each of our young people to learn as much as they can about science, creation, and Jesus.
As soon as Pathfinder Fair ended we immediately went into the Camp Wakonda Work Bee. If you have never attended Work Bee, then I recommend you set some time aside and try it! You will gain a whole new perspective on what the Lord has blessed us with and the amazing volunteers He brings us to keep our camp as beautiful as it is! We are so blessed with an amazing facility!
Work Bee ended and then we were straight into Camp Administrative Staff arrival! This is another of my favorite times of the camp season. My camp admin. team are the real superstars of what we do here during the summer! I may be the director, but they are a major reason we have success each summer! The camp admin. team, a group of young people who are in college, have at least one summer under their belt and they make up the leaders of this camp! But don’t miss that, they are young people with no real experience, in a professional setting that is, running or managing people, programs, or facilities. They are however, young people willing to work hard, get dirt under their finger nails, and share Jesus in whatever way they can! These young people come in as amateurs: afraid, overwhelmed, insecure, and leave as confident, talented, hardworking leaders of our world…and not the world of tomorrow, but our world of today! These young people are dedicated to serving Jesus! I love at the end of the summer seeing a completely different staff than I originally hired. Not because they actually change in people, but because the Lord transforms each of these young people on our amazing camp grounds! My entire staff are so awesome and inspiring that when I grow up, I want to be a camp staff!
Summer camp ended at 10:30 am on August 4, and at 6:00 am August 6, we were on our way to begin preparation for Oshkosh International Camporee! One ton of luggage, 16 vehicles, one camp boat, 17 horses, and 53 staff in tow, 60 miles down the road to serve 55K people coming to see what Jesus can do in a little town in Wisconsin! What an experience! If you have never been, I suggest you start making plans now to attend in 2024! You will not want to miss out on the festivities! I’m sure your social media accounts were blowing up with all the excitement! Oshkosh International Pathfinder Camporee is the 3rd largest gathering in the Adventist Church, and it all about young people!
How amazing and fortunate we are to have it in our own back yard! I managed to pin trade with several of our local clubs, union clubs, and international clubs and will be leaving all my pins in the Pathfinder Cabin, so check them out of you are in the area! Pin trading was an awesome experience but what made the pin trading great was seeing the young people connect in such a strange way by todays social norm standards. Young people sitting in lawn chairs on the side of the road, getting covered in dust as golf carts buzzed by, no cell phones in hand, no screen of any sort was present, often times handing out water bottles, free Wisconsin Pathfinder stickers, hugs, and yes pins! But through this strange connection with shiny medal pokey objects you would see smiles, laughter, community, and yes, real heartfelt connection as they were making each other’s day with their generosity! I never once saw any of our Wisconsin Pathfinders leave an interaction with another Pathfinder without a smile! Often times the interaction ended with a handshake, high five, hug, and many times prayer! Yes, our young people were praying with other young people on their own! I truly feel that Pathfinders is one of our greatest tools in retention of our young people, and I will stand by that as long as I am in ministry!
I cannot ,however, over speak of the sacrifice it takes on the part of club leaders! Oh my goodness! If you think it’s all fun and games, then you are mistaken! I saw club leaders working every minute of every second of every day keeping up with their kids! My hat is off to the amazing Pathfinder staff of each club! They sacrificed lots of money, time, effort, and gray hair to see that these young people had the experience of a lifetime! So when you see a Pathfinder staff shake their hand, give them a high five, trade them a pin, and tell them they are what makes Wisconsin Pathfinder strong!
So I ask again, did you see it? I can go on and on about what happened this summer, and what is still happening in the Wisconsin Youth Department, but feel I have gone too long already! So, if you have any questions. never hesitate to contact me or Shanna. We are always happy to help and be a blessing wherever and however the Lord needs us! We may not have every answer, but we will do our best to find them and help you lead young people to Jesus!
Pastor Eric Chavez, Youth Director