Pathfinders Come Together for Annual Camporee

By Rachel Scribner

Most of the time, the field by the lake at the Skamania County Fairgrounds is empty. But today, instead of a smattering of ducks and geese, it’s full of tents, canopies and trailers. The tents are neatly packed into solid blocks of colorful canvas. It’s quiet, like a painting of the Israelite camp from Exodus. But the silence doesn’t last. From a nearby barn, the final notes of a closing song float into the scene. There is a pause, a few muffled announcements, and then a wave of excitement, noise, and pent-up wiggles explodes into the orderly camp, bringing the painting to noisy, chaotic life. Pathfinder Camporee is here again.

The weekend of September 11-13, approximately 700 Pathfinders of all ages gathered in Stevenson, Washington for the annual Oregon Conference Pathfinder Camporee. “We have outgrown state parks. That’s why we were at the fairgrounds,” said Desiree Rinza, youth ministries administrative assistant. Rinza isn’t complaining. She said moving from smaller locations to bigger ones is a good problem to have. Pathfinders at this year’s camporee worshiped together through songs and devotionals and played together in the great outdoors. Activities included caving, hiking, swimming, canoeing, and field trips in the Columbia Gorge.

Rinza and the planning team had an extra challenge this year. Former Oregon Pathfinder director Tracy Wood accepted a position at the North American Division this spring, so the event was planned in the interim between directors. “Camporee happened without Pastor Tracy because we have  an amazing district coordinator team,” said Rinza. Planning is already in progress for next year’s camporee, at Milo Academy’s Camp Umpqua. “Hopefully, by then we’ll have a new Pathfinder director,” Rinza said, smiling.

Riverside Club TLTs Kerianne Kruger and Martessa Davis, both 15, pronounced the weekend a success. Davis said she especially liked the praise music, special teen programming and outdoor activities. Kruger’s favorite memory from the weekend was when her club “got to canoe around the lake and sing. We were singing the Pathfinder song,” Davis said. Davis said Rinza “did a great job. And she has a lot of fans,” Davis added, laughing as she remembered how the Pathfinders cheered when Rinza stood up for announcements.

A fan-made Pathfinder website says that “being at camporee is like being in heaven.” If that’s true, Rinza and the coordinator team brought a piece of heaven to Pathfinders young and old this September. “We don’t differentiate between kids and staff” Rinza said. “Once you’re a Pathfinder, you’re a Pathfinder forever.”