The purpose of Pathfindering is to lead each teen into a growing, redemptive relationship with Christ and to build Pathfinders into responsible, mature individuals who engage in active selfless service. All pathfinder leaders are Christians who work hand in hand with parents, teachers and pastors to provide optimum opportunities for Christian development. The Pathfinder Club is an extension of the home, school and church. It is an experimental laboratory where growth and learning flourish.
Pathfinders is a distinct ministry sponsored around the world by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Both are integral aspects of Christian education and seek to aid all-round nurturing of our children at the various stages of their development.
It was Mrs. E. G. White who counselled that “the best education that can be given to children and youth…should be given by godly parents, by devoted teachers, and by the church…”Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 231.
The Apostle Paul, in counselling Pastor Timothy on Christian conduct, alludes in 1 Timothy 3:15 to the concept of the triad of the “church as family, the school as pillar of support and the home as foundation”. The home, school and church collaborate to make these ministries relevant and effective.
The Pathfinder Ministry
This is the level of ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church for youth between the ages of 10 to 15. It was founded in 1907 but was recognized by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in 1950. It oversees ministry to our youth previously referred to as Adventist Junior Youth or even before that Junior Missionary Volunteers (JMV).
Pathfinders conjure up images of marching, camping, curious hobbies and encounters with God’s creation in Nature. It is a church-centred, spiritual-recreational activity with an appeal for youth who are at the fast-growing physical stage of development.
‘Service to God and to humanity’ in a nutshell is the dual purpose of Pathfindering. Currently there are some 2,000,000 Pathfinders around the world. Any youth between the ages 10 to 15 who promises to abide by the Pathfinder Pledge and Law is accepted as a Pathfinder.
Pathfindering is built on an age-specific curriculum of six levels: Friend, Companion, Explorer, Ranger, Voyager, and Guide. n addition, there are approximately 250 specialized skill development topics involving arts and crafts, aquatics, nature, household arts, recreation, spiritual development, health and vocational training. These “honours” as they are called, often serve as a launching pad for lifetime careers and hobbies.
In Ontario we have six Pathfinder districts each overseen by a District Coordinator. Each district is further subdivided into areas monitored by Area Coordinators. An Executive Coordinator chairs the Ontario Conference Pathfinder Council (OCPC), and there is a Conference Pathfinder Specialist, (usually a pastor), who oversees the Pathfinder ministry across Ontario.
- To help Junior Youth understand that God and church members love, care about and appreciate them.
- To encourage Pathfinders to discover their own God-given potential and to utilize their gifts and abilities to fulfill God’s expectations for them in the plan of salvation.
- To make the personal salvation of each Pathfinder a number one priority.
- To inspire each Pathfinder to give personal expression of their love for God through service to humanity including evangelistic endeavours.
- To build a healthy appreciation and love for God’s creation by enjoying outdoor activity and taking care of their surroundings.
- To teach Pathfinders specific skills and hobbies that will make their lives more meaningful.
- To encourage pathfinders to keep physically fit. “Teach children to care for their body and establish good habits for future happiness and usefulness ( Edu. p. 195).
- To give opportunity for the development of teen leadership including an introduction to group dynamics.
- To foster the harmonious development of the intellectual, physical, spiritual, social and emotional life of the Pathfinder.