Nearly 10,000 campers to Inter-America’s 5th Pathfinder Camporee met at the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium in Jamaica, during opening night, April 4, 2023. [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

April 5, 2023 | Trelawny, Jamaica | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Voices, cheers, songs, and shouts were heard while the sun was setting and the breeze waved dozens of flags at the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium in Jamaica, as thousands of Pathfinders dressed in their uniforms made their presence known during the Inter-American 5th Pathfinder Camporee opening night on Apr. 4, 2023.

Nearly 10,000 gathered from 51 countries to witness the welcome from Adventist leaders and Jamaican government officials. The opening ceremony included a marching band, a parade of nations, a musical drama performance on the biblical story of Gideon, fireworks and a spiritual message that set the tone for the five-day event.

Delegates of El Salvador Union cheer while waiting for the opening program to begin. [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

“I know that every day you spend here will be extraordinary, a good opportunity to listen to each other, to listen to the Word of God, and learn from the life of Gideon, to be like him with courage and determination to do the will of God,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the Inter-American Division.

Pastor Henry thanked the government of Jamaica and event organizers for being instrumental in hosting the event.

Pastor Elie Henry, president of the Inter-American Division speaks to thousands of Pathfinders during the opening night of the camporee, Apr. 4, 2023. [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

Mayor of Falmouth Colin Gager welcomed the international delegations and congratulated the young people for continuing to be engaged in actions for Jesus.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange wished Pathfinders and all travelers a spiritually enriching experience while in Jamaica and wished them to “increase God’s presence with greater peace and better love for ourselves and our fellow man,” she said.

Pathfinders from different countries lead out in song service on stage during opening night, Apr. 4, 2023. [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/AD]

Both were given the official IAD Pathfinder Camporee pin and a presidential golden award medal in recognition of their commitment to facilitating the event in Trelawny.

Pathfinders in Mission

Themed Pathfinders in Mission, the camporee is centered around the experience of Gideon, said Pastor Al Powell, youth ministries director and main organizer of the event. “In spite of the challenges Gideon faced, he never lost faith and remained steadfast in fulfilling his mission,” Powell said.

Actor playing biblical Gideon during part during the drama performance during the opening night of the Pathfinder Camporee. [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

Keynote Speaker Andres Peralta, associate ministries director of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, reminded each Pathfinder that God cares for them and they belong to a large family of two million Pathfinders, 60,000 clubs and 1.6 million Adventurers around the world.

Before he began his devotional message, Peralta addressed the more than 700 who were not able to make it to the camporee due to flight issues. “For those who could not come, we love you, we miss you, and one day we will be in the largest camporee with Jesus,” he said.

Keynote Speaker Andres Peralta, associate youth ministries director of the General Conference addresses the more than 700 delegates from Guatemala and Panama who were not able to travel to Jamaica because of travel issues days before the camporee. [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

Large delegations from Panama and Guatemala were not able to travel to the camporee at the last minute.

A minute of silence was observed in the stadium as the attendees prayed for the family of the 14 church members in Zambia, who drowned recently during a church activity.

Peralta thanked youth ministries leaders for their commitment and dedication to investing in developing Pathfinders for the future.

Delegates from the Jamaican Union wave the national flag during the parade of nations. [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

“God believes in you”

As Peralta reflected on the story on Judges chapter six, he reminded young people to not let intimidation, low self-esteem, and temptations lead them to believe that they have no value. “Don’t let the Midianites put doubts in your identity with God, some of you may have them near you back home telling you that you will not make it,” said Peralta. “Even if you don’t believe in yourself, God believes in you. God will provide strength. Even if you don’t see a solution, God will open the door to save you.”

Peralta reminded Pathfinders to feel reassured like Gideon when the Lord said He was with him. “If you are broken, the Lord is with you, if you feel pain, when they criticize you, abandon you, when there’s no money or when you feel loneliness, God is with you.”

A pathfinder smiles big after being baptized next to two others during the opening ceremony. [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

Pathfinders watched the first in a series of five drama performances to help them understand how God might be calling them and what battles they might be called to fight, in order to execute God’s mission for their life.

Pathfinder perspectives

Ever since Aaron González, 15, joined his Yellawar Pathfinder Club in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, years ago, he’s been clear about being a Pathfinder in mission–serving others and showing the love of Jesus. “It’s basically being an example so others can see something different in my life that they don’t see in others,” he said.

Aaron González of Honduras smiles big as he realizes the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in Jamaica for the international camporee, Apr. 4, 2023. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Aaron was in awe at the thousands of Pathfinders around him and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being part of the camporee experience in Jamaica. “I’ve met many peers from Venezuela, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Brazil and I’m so excited to learn more skills to become a better Pathfinder,” he said.

Ariadne López, 14, from Reynosa, Tamaulipas in northern Mexico, was calm but taking in all the cheers coming from thousands of young people around her. She is one of nearly 200 delegates from the North Mexican Union  In just two days, she has made many friends from many different countries and is looking forward to acquiring more knowledge in biosecurity, multicultural honor classes, and take part in the 5K run.  Ariadne is clear about her mission as a Pathfinder to be a strong disciple and spread the message of the gospel. “I want other persons to learn about the Bible,” said Ariadne. Back home she is involved in community impact activities with her club, she invites friends, is active in church, distributes literature and ministers to others. She also plays the violin and ukulele.

Pathfinder Ariadne López, 14, from Reynosa, Tamaulipas in northern Mexico, is soaking up the cheers during opening night. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Tiger Frans, 15, of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean islands, has known ever since he joined Pathfinders six years ago about his mission to bring others to Christ and the life of service he needs to practice for the rest of his life. He’s taking in his experience, watching the way others from different countries do different things. “I think it’s amazing how all of us are coming together with the same goal to learn more and be better Christians every day,” said Tiger. Although he is fluent in English, Dutch, Papiamento and can speak a little Spanish, he’s been keen on connecting with other campers and admiring different colorful flags.

Tiger wants to become a neurologist but understands he needs to continue relying on God for guidance and strength in fulfilling His mission above anything else, he said.

Pathfinder Tiger Frans of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean says he’s taking in his experience watching the way others from different countries do different things. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Trusting God

The camporee is just that, helping youngsters and campers trust in God and be ready to move where Jesus leads as they develop leadership skills to fulfill the mission, said Powell.

The closing of the night’s ceremony included a baptismal ceremony, and a call to prayer for the spiritual growth of Pathfinders and leaders during the camporee event.

Pathfinders will get to take part in spiritual sessions, sports competitions, marching drills, honor classes, survival skills activities and more throughout the week.

Two pathfinders enjoy the fireworks display at the end of the opening ceremony of the camporee. [Photo: Ruth-Ann Brown/IAD]

To view a daily photo gallery of Inter-America’s 5th Pathfinder Camporee, click HERE

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