More than 600 Pathfinders, parents, staff and visitors from the Minnesota Conference attended the 2019 International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where they enjoyed the spiritual atmosphere and wonderful social opportunities. “It was fabulous to see the campsite fill with our Pathfinders throughout the week,” said Minnesota Conference youth director Shelina Bonjour.
As of Friday night, 23 people from Minnesota were baptized, with additional baptisms taking place on Sabbath after the evening program. “Our final numbers are still pouring in, and we praise the Lord that these Pathfinders have committed their lives to Him,” said Bonjour. The event was hugely impactful, with more than 1,300 Pathfinders baptized of the 56,000 people in attendance.
On Wednesday, the Mid-America Union Conference and other unions joined together to parade down Celebration Way. Each club dressed in their Class A uniforms and lined up with their conference. “It was an incredible opportunity to see the formation and precision of all our clubs working together with the conference, the MAUC, and other unions from around the world,” shared Bonjour.
A parade took place each day, with an average of 7,000 Pathfinders marching together. “As we marched down Celebration Way,” recalled Bonjour, “It was a delight to see bystanders stop and cheer for the Minnesota Conference.” Because Minnesota has the only drum corps teams (Southview and Minneapolis First Churches) in the union, the MAUC asked the Minneapolis Prophets to lead the union in the parade. “As a thank you gift for their hard work, the MAUC gifted the members of the Minneapolis Prophets drum corps with white gloves,” said Bonjour.
The drum corps, along with marching and drilling teams from throughout Minnesota, competed in the drilling competition on Friday afternoon. “The kids work on these drilling routines for months,” said Bonjour. “We got a sneak preview of their routines in May during the Pathfinder Fair, and it was a delight to see how much they improved.” Minnesota had three clubs compete: Faith Warriors, Light of the World and The Prophets.
The Minneapolis Prophets, from Minneapolis First Church, had three teams competing in the drilling competition: a junior drill team made up of the Friends class, a freestyle drill team, and the drum corps.
“Our club has had a tradition of competing at Oshkosh since we began the drum corps in 2009,” shared Zachary Migiro, Pathfinder club director. In 2009, the drum corps didn’t get first place, but after a few years of hard work, they took first place in 2014. As it is five years between camporees, it is rare the club will have Pathfinders who attended a camporee continue to be in the drum corps at the next camporee.
“This year, we started from zero. We had no kids who carried over from before,” said Migiro. “Additionally, the previous drum corps director moved away, so we had to find a parent to take over.” During the school year, the drum corps and drill teams practice one to two times per week. “It takes a lot of time from both the kids and the parents,” said Migiro. “During the summer, in preparation for camporee, we held a six-week boot camp. The kids practiced Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday each week.”
The marching and drilling competition is graded similarly to Pathfinder Bible Experience. The teams are scored against a rubric and receive a placement based on how well they complete required tasks, such as saluting, marching in sync and turning either in flank or column march.
This year, the Minneapolis Prophets placed first with their junior drill team and their freestyle drill team, and placed second with their drum corps team. “It was a positive experience overall,” said Migiro. “Having a drum corps helps kids in the church get excited about joining the Pathfinder club.”
The Minneapolis Prophets also use the drum corps as an outreach tool. Each year, they march at the Minnesota State Fair. They marched in Class A uniform on Aug. 25, and marched in their club T-shirts on Sept. 1.
“We are invited to other community events as well,” said Migiro. “We cut it down during camporee years, though, because it gets to be too much otherwise.”
Shelina Bonjour summarized the 2019 Chosen Camporee by saying it was a fabulous experience. “We saw our youth meeting Jesus and giving their lives to Him,” she said. “We saw our kids learning new skills, meeting people from around the world, playing together, learning together and having a wonderful time celebrating the fact that they were chosen by God. We’re already fired up for the 2024 Believe the Promise Camporee!”