“As Christians we are called to serve others,” said Paulo Macena, community service/Compassion projects coordinator for the camporee. “When Pathfinders participate in community service projects, they learn the joy of service, civic responsibilities, and the satisfaction of a job well done.”
About 6,000 Pathfinders and club staff and leaders assisted in 57 local service efforts in Oshkosh and the surrounding communities during the 2019 Chosen International Pathfinder Camporee. Each day except Sabbath, buses rolled out morning and afternoon for several hours as teams helped at food pantries, shelters, the humane society, thrift stores, and a plethora of other nonprofit organizations. Community outreach also included an onsite blood drive and park cleanup.
On August 14 several clubs from Texas and Florida visited the Feeding America distribution center in Appleton, Wisconsin, where they repackaged 400-pound bags of organic Cheerios into small, family-friendly-sized two-pound bags that were send to local food banks, says Dustin Hermann, volunteer coordinator, who estimates that groups repackaged about 10,000 pounds throughout the week.
“We just like want to find a purpose so that when we remember Oshkosh to be able to say, I was part of a project and thought compassion was a good way to help out in the community,” said Cynthia Angeles, director of the Bynum Manahain Pathfinder Club in San Antonio, Texas. “At home we usually visit a nursing home and like to help in a local food bank in San Antonio. . . . I remember when I used to be a Pathfinder, we did community service and that definitely makes an impact in kids’ lives.”
Other clubs learned new skills as they completely removed the old carpet at Father Carr’s Food Pantry and helped fix air conditioners at the facility’s women’s shelter.
Ivana Rojas, a regional Pathfinder director from Paraguay, came to Oshkosh with her twin sister Melissa (the national Pathfinder director) to take home implementable ideas. The young adults made sure to sign up for a Compassion project because “we want to serve. We want to share with other Pathfinders how to serve as Jesus said and did,” said Rojas. “We have to serve and we have to show love—we have to help the community. That is a very good way to share our faith and our hope.”
George Ballesteros, who has attended three previous Oshkosh camporees, believes that partaking in community service teaches an important lesson to the youth, which include his own children. His small club from Plant City, Florida, wanted to help at the Habitat for Humanity Restore shop. The Restore sells used furniture, glassware, lamps, and more at a deeply discounted price to help fund Habitat’s housing projects.
“Helping others gets them to do something they usually may not be involved with—and with another group in a different place,” said Ballesteros. “It’s all about compassion. It’s all about showing how you can help other people. It’s a way to share who we are—and what we do leaves an impact. . . . You lead by example. That’s what this is about.”
Free Dental and Eye Care Clinic
On Thursday, Aug. 15, Lake Union Conference health director Randy Griffin coordinated a health clinic at Oshkosh's Menominee Nation Arena, which offered free dental and eye care to more than 60 people. The team was able to provide dental extractions, eye exams, and prescription glasses.
“This is the first time we’d had the opportunity to bring the dental and vision clinic that we facilitate here in the Lake Union to the camporee,” said Griffin. “Dentists and eye doctors have given their time to help the [Oshkosh] community. . . . We care for them because we know Jesus and we love Jesus — hopefully they see that through what we are doing here.”
One of the more unique endeavors was called Project Chosen. Teams of youth and club leaders traversed the streets of Oshkosh distributing Guide magazines to residents. Each Pathfinder was given seven magazines; 3,000 copies were handed out during the week.
Josue Feliciano, a Chesapeake Conference pastor who coordinated the Guide distribution along with Chesapeake Conference’s Youth director Carl Rodriguez, said Project Chosen is a community outreach project “meant to distribute Guide magazines that have been specially printed up to be an evangelist effort to reach the community, to impact the community.”
Feliciano continued, “We want to do that by knocking on people’s doors and giving them these Guidemagazines that are specially designed to reach their heart and hopefully introduce them to Jesus Christ.”
“The kids all enjoyed passing out the Guides today,” said Sara Watts, Pathfinder director for the Wichita South Lightbearers in Kansas. “It’s important to have the kids do community service and whenever we have the opportunity to do so I want them to participate. It’s a great idea to give them Guide magazine, a little bit of literature. They might not read it now, but maybe they will down the road.”
Ava McCullough, a Lightbearers Pathfinder, said, “This was fun because I got to meet cool people and we are teaching people about God. Giving out Guide magazines teaches people about Bible stories and how to love Jesus.”
Sofia Infante, a Pathfinder from the Flaming Falcons of the Maranatha Spanish church in Ontario, Canada, shared, “We’ve done this before in Ontario, but it’s cool to do this in another city, with a different group of people,” referring to the Garland Jaguars Pathfinder Club from the Garland Faith Community Seventh-day Adventist Church in Texas.
“It’s nice to spread the Word of God, especially in a community that seems to have a lot of teenagers—there are a lot of rentals, and a university nearby. It’s like teenagers spreading the word to other teenagers,” added Infante.
— Kimberly Luste Maran, with reporting by V. Michelle Bernard and Mylon Medley