What can I say about the 2009 Pathfinder Camporee other than WOW? I knew that we were traveling 13 hours to Osh Kosh, WI to campout with 36,000 other Pathfinders. I knew that that was a lot of people. But I had no idea what to expect! This was my first Pathfinder Camporee and that of my children as well.
We left around midnight on Sunday night. The Camporee was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, but we had decided to get there a day earlier to set up camp. There were ten in our group: My husband and I, James, Sarah, Emily, Hannah, Laura, and then Julina (my husband’s daughter) and her two children Jacob and Jenna. It was a long night.
We arrived in Osh Kosh around lunch time on Monday. We stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few camping supplies before actually driving into the air field. Who knew that out of 36,000 Pathfinders half of them had the same idea???
Every where you looked you saw cars and vans and buses with words like, “Osh Kosh or Bust!”
As we pulled into the gate of the air field, we were suddenly surrounded by thousands of people. It was so exciting to see! Kids were pitching tents and setting up camp every where you looked. We didn’t know that most of the conferences built fantastic displays to signify their region.
Tuesday was a flurry of activity. We knew before we went that bathrooms and showers would be an issue. Imagine 36,000 people and only 500 showers and only porta potties available for use? And to get water for cooking and washing you had to walk quite a ways, stand in line, and carry back buckets of water.
The beating of drums was heard “througout the land” and all week long! I am a “new” Pathfinder and I never knew that Pathfinders played drums! It was a wonderful sound. I love, love, love the sound of drilling and drums!
Like I said, I had not really known what to expect. I understood there would be honor classes to work on during the week, but it was not until after we arrived that I really understood what that meant. The campus (air field) was so large that it took me 30 minutes (one way) to walk over the the hangars where the honors and other activities took place. I am soooo glad that we weren’t even further away as many were! I guess we walked about 10 miles a day. (Talk about exhausting!)
There were so many activities and classes and fun things to do – it was not possible to do them all! From BMX Bike shows to Motorcycle shows, to the 24′ rock climbing wall to dozens of honor classes to art classes to the bushcraft village to the prayer tent and the Messiah’s Mansion (life size tabernacle/ sanctuary) to the exotic animal shows to the very cool obstacle course to the community service opportunities to the puppet shows to the Native American display to the off site trips to Six Flags, Noah’s Ark Waterpark, water skiing, and so much more. They even had a booth where kids could just come and make crafts for fun! (see below)
There were food vendors – every kind of vegetarian item you could think of was available! I didn’t even realized there would be food vendors – I would have skipped cooking a few meals. It was like a Seventh-day Adventist wonder land. Sooo much fun!
And then there was the Trading Pins. Who knew that you needed to bring a collection of trading pins to join in the fun tradition? (see the photo of Hannah in the pink hat up above.)You’d think since I am married to a pastor who has been to Camporees before that he would have clued me in! But as the week progressed we had a nice collection of pins and in 5 years at the next camporee (if the Lord hasn’t retured by then) we will be ready!
And in the evenings there was the Worship Service. Oh my. It was fabulous! The theme of the camporee was Courage to Stand based on the life of Esther. Worship began with a puppet show and song service and talent show and more. But the highlight of each night was the play.
Oh, but I didn’t tell you about the stage! It was a fantasical stage built to look like Ester’s Palace – beautiful! And there were three huge screens so that everyone who was not close to the stage – which would be most of the 36,000 people – could get a good view.
Going into the camporee I was thinking that it would be a cheesy church play – you know the kind. Well meaning church members act out a story to the best of their ability and everyone looks past their lack of talent out of love? That was not the case. The actors and actresses performed beautifully. It was so well done and professional. I was so proud! And the musical score for the play (which was really a musical) was very, very well done. I bought the CD and the kids just love the music!
On Sabbath (the last day of the camporee) over 550 young people were baptized – Praise God!
On the last night, after the program ended, we had a special surprise! All of a sudden, just as eveyone was standing to leave, fireworks began. It was a true delight and when they began I thought there would be just a few. They played some of my favorite songs as the fireworks exploded in the sky. But then they kept coming and coming – for at least 30 minutes ending with an amazing display for the “grand finale”! It was so special and as we left the service, my youngest daughter Laura says to me, “I am going to be sad to go home!” That pretty much summed it all up for the rest of us.
August was such an exciting time for us – I will share more of our adventures during the month in Part 4!