The Pathfinder Club is a worldwide program organized and directed by the Youth Department of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church often compared as an Seventh-day Adventist Co-ed Boy Scouts. It offers a wide range of learning experiences for young people 10 to 15 years of age (and older) and is operated by the international Seventh-day Adventist church under the direction and control of the local conference youth director. Activities include community service, camping, crafts, classwork, marching, Bible study, Seventh-day Adventist Church history, and leadership training. Staff to student ratio is said to be about 1:5, which the organization stresses as an important learning benefit for participants. Participants are children and teenagers aged 10–15, progressing through different ranks called Class Levels each year. Pathfinder clubs across the globe are sponsored by the local missions/conferences and participate in different activities and camps.
Pathfinder clubs are sponsored by a local Seventh-day Adventist Church or school and will usually meet either once a week, bi-weekly or monthly.
The History of Pathfinders
The first official action concerning the work for junior youth was taken in 1907 at a convention in Mount Vernon, Ohio. As early as 1911 clubs for boys were organised in Takoma Park, Maryland. These were the Takoma Indians, Missions Scouts, Woodland Clan and Pals.
The roots of Pathfinders can be traced as far back as 1919 when Arthur Spaulding organized the “Mission Scouts” in Madison, Tennessee, for his own boys and their friends. Handicrafts, woodcraft, trailing and camping were stressed. A law, pledge and aim were adopted, which formed the basis of the Pledge and Law eventually adopted for Junior Missionary Volunteers.
Then in the 1920s Harriet Holt and C. Lester Bond founded the “Junior Missionary Volunteers”, the “Missionary Volunteers” and the “Master Guide” Leadership Awards. In the mid 1920′s John McKim moved to Anaheim, California where he was offered a high position in the Scouting organization. Because he wouldn’t be able to keep Sabbath, he turned down the offer and instead took a job as a custodian with the Lincoln School. Back in those days, custodians did more than clean. Sometimes McKim would be called upon to teach the students some of the skills he had learned in scouting. As these activities grew in popularity with students, it gave McKim the desire to offer Adventist youth Christian club activities, similar to the scouting program. With encouragement from Guy Mann, Southeastern California Youth Director, he formed a club in 1925 that begin meeting in his home in Anaheim. Boys and girls from the Anaheim and Fullerton Adventist churches, plus some neighborhood kids, were meeting weekly at the McKim home.
McKim was helped by his wife, Bertha, Mrs. Willa Steen, and her husband Claude when his schedule allowed. Each meeting consisted of a worship, working on Boy Scout merits (the predecessor of Pathfinder honors) and playing games. It wasn’t long before the club outgrew the McKim home, and began meeting in the Lincoln School Gym, where McKim worked. Jean McKim Scully, McKim’s daughter, recalled that the “auditorium was full” during the club meetings. John McKim got the idea for the club name after reading a story about John Fremont, an early explorer and pathfinder.
When the Pathfinder name was first used is not entirely certain through. Other sources say that the term Pathfinders was possibly first used at the first JMV-Camp 1927 in Julian at the Westcoast of the USA, as Arthur Spaulding told the story from John Fremont, “The Pathfinder”. When the South Californian conferance build a camp place at Idyllwild in 1930, they named it “JMV Pathfinder Camp”.
Five years after John McKim began his youth Christian club—he called Pathfinders—in Anaheim, California, another club emerged in nearby Santa Ana, in 1930. Under the leadership of Lester Martin and Dr. Theron Johnston, it was for boys only. The club met each week in Johnstonís basement workshop where he taught them skills in radio and electronics. When Dr. Johnstonís daughter, Maurine, complained about not being able to join, her mother started a club for girls, that was held in their attic. Once a month McKimís and Johnstonís clubs would meet for joint meetings. They also went on camping trips and special outings together. Though the clubs were popular with the young people, they did not receive the recognitions and support of the church members. So despite the efforts of the two leaders, both clubs ceased to exist after 1936, though the idea and name survived. However, youth leadership continued to see a need for a club for Christian youth, and many put their ideas into action. In 1943, Henry Bergh began a Trail Blazers Club in the Portland, Oregon area. Lawrence Paulson organized and assumed leadership of a Pathfinder Club in Glendale, California.
Lawrence Skinner worked with JMV-Clubs in Hawaii, South California and in the Noth Pacific Union. In 1946 John Hancock became Youth Director of the South Pacific Union. Soon afterwards, he founded one of the first conference supported Pathfinder Clubs in Riverside. rancis Hunt, a ministerial student, was asked to be the first club director. The group began with 15 members, and met in homes, including John Hancockís, for honor and craft classes.He then also invented the Pathfinder badge. In 1947, Elder Skinner asked the Youth Director of the Pacific Union, J.R. Nelson, if it would be possible to further develop the Pathfinder Clubs with help of the conference Youth Directors. Members of this group included Henry Bergh, John Hancock, Miller Brockett, and Clark Smith. In 1950 the General Conference authorized JMV Pathfinder Clubs for the world field. Elder Laurence Skinner was the first World Pathfinder Director. Now almost 50 years later, Pathfindering has grown to a membership of 1.1 million that encompasses 80% of the countries of the world.
It was not until the 1950s that Pathfinders began to grow rapidly. There were Pathfinder camps with Donald Parmer, books were written by Lawrence Paulson and Henry Berg composed the first Pathfinder song.
From there the Pathfinder movement had developed far enough and the the General Conference began to lead out. . L.A. Skinner, John Hancock and Lee Carter wrote the first Pathfinder Leadership books,espically one titled: “How do I start a Pathfinder Club”. Since the first Pathfinder club’s small membership, the number of athfinders has grown to 974,477 in 18,556 clubs (1996). Pathfinders is in every world division. There are around 250 Pathfinder honors to earn, including everything from Basketry to Winter Camping, and the number of honors available constantly grows.
1907 Missionary Volunteer Societies organized
1908 Junior Reading Course First MV Day, March 7 1909 Junior MV Societies organized
1911 MV Leaflet Series began The Pathfinder Story by John Handcock
1922 JMV (now AJY) Progressive Classes introduced – Friend and Companion A. W. Spalding and Harriet Hold advocate basic idea of Pathfinder Clubs
1926 First junior camp held in USA (Town Line Lake, Michigan)
1927 Master Comrade (now Master Guide) officially approved
1928 Southern California’s first youth camp, San Gabriel Canyon Vocational honors introduced
1929 “Pathfinder” name first used at a summer camp in Southeastern California
1930 Pre-JMV/AJY classes developed
1931 First Master Comrade Investiture
1932 First JMV Pathfinder Camp, Idyllwild, purchased
1938 Master Comrade Manual published The Pathfinder Story by John Handcock
1946 First conference-sponsored Pathfinder Club (Riverside, California) Pathfinder Club emblem designed by John H. Hancock
1947 First North American Division Youth Congress as San Francisco
1948 Helen Hobbs makes the Pathfinder flag First area Pathfinder coordinators appointed (Central California Conference)
1949 Henry Bergh writes Pathfinder song
1950 General Conference authorizes JMV Pathfinder clubs for world field Pathfinder Staff Training Course and How to Start a Pathfinder Club booklet. Explorer class added
1951 First Pathfinder Fair, September 23, Dinuba, California. Master Comrade changed to Master Guide. Pathfinder Staff Manual published
1952 Pathfinder song copyrighted 1954 First Pathfinder Camporee, May 7-9, Idyllwild, California
1957 JMV Pathfinder Day added to church calendar
1960 First Union Camporee, April 11-14, Lone Pine, California
1962 MV Pathfinder Field Guide. Pathfinder Drill Manual
1963 John Hancock elected World Pathfinder Director
1965 JMV Handbook combined with Master Guide Manual to be MV Handbook
1966 Pioneer Class added (later changed to Ranger). First North American MV Camp Directory published
1970 to Present
1970 Pioneer Class name changed to Ranger (8th Grade)
1974 Pathfinder Staff Manual revised and expanded
1979 MV changed to AY (Missionary Volunteer –> Adventist Youth. JMV changed to AJY (Junior Missionary Volunteer to Adventist Junior Youth). Pre-AJY changed to Adventurers (4 yrs. – 4th grade)
1980 Les Pitton elected NAD Youth Director. MV Camp Directory changed to World Adventist Youth Camp Directory
1981 Pathfinders Sing published
1982 New Pathfinder World replaces MV World. Voyager Class added. NAD Pathfinder uniform revised.
1985 Norm Middag appointed NAD Pathfinder Director. First NAD Pathfinder Camporee, Camp Hale, Colorado
1987 Current NAD Pathfinder emblem designed by Norm Middag
1989 NAD Pathfinder Honors Manual revised, new honors added. Friendship Camporee in Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Columbia Union
1993 Restructuring results in Office of Pathfinder Ministries
1994 “Dare to Care” International Pathfinder Camporee, August 2-6, Denver, Colorado
1995 Teen Leadership Training (TLT) Program established for training High school students (grades 9-12). First Pathfinder Web Site established. First Pathfinder Club web page, Fort Worth Eagles, Fort Worth, Texas
1997 January – Willie Oliver becomes NAD Director of Pathfinder & Camp Ministries. NAD Pathfinder Honors Manual revised, new honors added
1999 NAD Pathfinder Web Site established, January 17. Discover the Power International Camporee in Osh Kosh WI (USA) had more than 20,000 participants enjoy 4 days together.
The above information has been compiled and edited from various sources on the internet, including an article by by Suzanne Perdew on www.pathfindertoday.com entitled “Pathfiners: How It All Began”. The three above photos are from the same piece and are by Ben Grant.
Ohio Pathfinder FAQ…
The following items are intended to give you a short overview of what the Pathfinder Clubs in the Ohio Conference. Below is a short Ohio Pathfinder Club FAQ.
What is Pathfinders?
Pathfinders is a worldwide organization sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It has nearly 30,000 clubs operating in over 120 countries worldwide. In the state of Ohio, Pathfinders is sponsored by the Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Who Can Join a Ohio Pathfinder Club?
Any young person in grades 5 to 10 who promises to abide by the Pathfinder Pledge and Law can become an Ohio Pathfinder. Although, Pathfinders is a worldwide organization of young people sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, young people of any religious persuasion, or none at all, are welcome and encouraged to join the organization.
Who are the Pathfinder Leaders?
All Pathfinder leaders are Christians. Their belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ motivates them to spend time ministering to youth. By their teaching and example they show what it means to be a living, vibrant Christian in today’s world. Working hand in hand with parents, teachers, and pastors, Pathfinder leaders provide optimum opportunities for Christian development. They consider the Pathfinder Club to be an extension of the home, school, and church, an experimental laboratory where growth and learning flourish, an environment where failure is not expected but becomes a tool for learning.
What are the Typical Activities of a Club?
A Pathfinder Club’s imagination and location often determine its group activities–ranging from community and world mission projects to nature and outdoor activities such as parades, backpacking and camping trips. Pathfinders even plan and cook their own meals when camping! Pathfindering challenges the unique talents of each participant. Clubs often plan day trips to national parks and nature centers, museums, businesses, health and social welfare facilities, and other places of local historical interest.
Ohio Pathfinder Club Overview…
Below is a short overview of a typical Pathfinder Club in the Ohio Conference.
OHIO PATHFINDER CLUBS ACTIVITIES:
Pathfinders offer a wide range of activities including, but not limited to:
Camping & camping/survival skills
Grade appropriate leadership training
Activites promoting community pride & involvement through outreach activities such as helping in downtown soup kitchens, collecting food for the disadvantaged, cleaning & maintaining city and county parks, visiting and encouraging the elderly, and MANY more
Interactive training in a variety of recreational, artistic, nature, conservation, vocational, and outreach areas, with awards (honors) given for successful completion of the interactive training modules
Personal care and encouragement by a caring staff member! While many school classrooms have 10-30 students per teacher, Pathfinders offers AT LEAST a 1 staff member to every 5 Pathfinder ratio!
Most importantly, Pathfinders provides spiritual training in a fun, interactive environment. In many cases the leaders in pathfinders will become spiritual mentors to pathfinders as pathfinder young people discover who God is through Bible stories, club worships, weekend campouts and inspirational Pathfinder Camporee
OHIO PATHFINDER CLUB GOALS:
The primary purpose of the Pathfinder ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to instill in its membership a committed relationship with Jesus Christ through:
Fostering Christian relationships in an atmosphere of love and fellowship
Instilling pride and responsibility in beginning and completing projects
Service/Outreach within the club and community
Training and reaching future Christian leaders
OBJECTIVES OF THE OHIO PATHFINDER CLUBS:
“Fostering relationships that create responsible servant leaders dedicated to service.”
To lead our boys and girls to Christ and hold them loyal to the church.
To demonstrate the attractiveness of Christian ideals in an active program.
To guide our boys and girls into active missionary service.
To provide a positive church centered program.
To develop good character and citizenship.
To promote the Adventist Junior Youth achievement class activity.
To give guidance in physical, mental, social and spiritual growth