Every five years, since 1999, the International
Pathfinder Camporee has transformed the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture
Campgrounds in Oshkosh, Wis., from a barren land into a vibrant international
village. This year a record 55,000 people travelled to Oshkosh for “Chosen”—the
2019 International Camporee—from as far as New Zealand, Ukraine, Bermuda, and
of course, Canada, with creative entrances welcoming guests to their region.
A camporee standout was “Canada
Park,” with Canada spelled out in block letters on a hill, imitating the
Hollywood sign, as well as replicas of landmarks from various Canadian
provinces. It was an apropos stomping grounds for 3,672 Canadians from the
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba-Saskatchewan, Maritime and Ontario Conferences, as
well as the 256 international guests they hosted. Notably, the Canadian
contingent included Mark Johnson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
in Canada, as well as several conference administrators and pastors.
From August 12 to 17, visitors were
treated to a smorgasbord of on- and off-site activities, including sports
competitions, community outreach, zip-lining, archery, and touring hangars
where they earned prizes, completed honours, and more. Among Canadian
contributions, the British Columbia Conference sponsored ice-skating at the
YMCA; Quebec taught CPR, camping skills craft honours in French; Ontario
facilitated the international soccer tournament, the “Chosen” Race—a Pathfinder
version of the Amazing Race,
plus the geology, Bible marking, stewardship, and family life honours. And to
the very end, people from different regions eagerly traded Pathfinder pins, including
the highly sought-after six-pin Canadian set.
But the heart of Oshkosh was the nightly programs. There,
Toronto native Damian Chandler, a pastor, spoke powerfully of the God who has
chosen us for a mighty purpose. On the 12th, he gave the first of
several appeals, “We have a God who sees us … knows us …
chooses us. Will you choose on tonight to see Him? To know Him? To love Him?”
Attendees’ responses were so great that the number of baptisms ballooned from
400 pre-Oshkosh to 1,311 by week’s end.
of those opting to be baptized at Oshkosh came from Canada. Several pastors,
including Chandler, Ontario pastors Sereivudh Ly, Jim Nziwa, Gerry
Pasiktan, and Fitzroy Radlein, and former British Columbia communications
director, Charles Aguilar, joyfully baptized their children at Oshkosh.
Having baptized his eldest daughter in 2014, Aguilar
was thrilled to now baptize his younger daughter and son. “I can’t help but
shed several tears of happiness! I pray that they continue to love Jesus and
the church,” he stated.
Chandler was a nightly stage production depicting David’s bumpy road to the
throne after being hand-picked by God as Israel’s next king. With professional
acting and singing, and impressive sets including live animals, the play was a
standout for attendees of all ages. Keen Canadian
observers might have noticed that Ahimelech, the high priest with whom David
sought refuge when fleeing from Saul, was acted by Kendal Brouet, a former
Ontario Pathfinder and present British Columbia resident. Brouet persevered
after being turned back at the border on July 19 to become the first Canadian
actor on the Oshkosh stage. He explained his motivation—“Because I was
teaching drama at my church, I told myself, I want to prove to my kids that if
God is with them, they can do anything.”
The big stage also showcased Canadian Pathfinder talent, including Mount Zion Pathfinders performing a traditional Filipino dance, Pathfinder-turned-motivational speaker Nyjel Camanzo of Hamilton Hylanders, and the first place-winning Orion Pathfinder drill team, chosen from all the drill teams to perform on the Sabbath and drummers from Ontario and Quebec. Off-stage, several Canadian drill and/or drum teams from Manitoba-Saskatchewan and Ontario Conference also had an impressive showing, including the first place-winning Ontario Conference Drum Corps and Ontario Conference Drill Team. On the final day, Canadians also contributed to the 13,309 people forming the Guiness Book of World Records’ Largest Human Cross, and an impressive 16 Master Guides from across Canada were invested.
Martin, at his fourth camporee, now serving as coordinator of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada’s Pathfinder Ministry, reflected on a busy but blessed week. “Above all the fun, it was fitting for our Pathfinders to be reminded, through the story of David, that they are a chosen generation. I can’t wait to see the positive impact they’ll make as they return to their homes and communities as a result of their encounter with God at Oshkosh Camporee.”
–Christelle Agboka, Ontario Conference