A special interview with Craig Harris, Director of the Lake Union Club Ministry.
On September 15, nearly 3,000 Pathfinders will gather in Berrien Springs, Michigan for the “Fearless” Lake Union Pathfinder Camporee. The Pathfinder Camporee, held every five years at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds, is Lake Union’s largest Pathfinder event.
As organizers plan this memorable gathering, Scouts from across the Great Lakes region await details of what to expect. Lake Union Herald correspondent Samuel Girven interviewed Craig Harris, director of Lake Union Club Ministries, about the upcoming Camporee. Edited excerpts from their conversation follow.
Samuel Girven: What are some things for Pathfinder directors, parents, and club members to keep in mind as we near the start date of this Camporee?
Craig Harris: One of the big things on August 15th – which is only a few days away – is when the price of registration goes up. After that, the price goes up to $45. And if you haven’t registered by September 1st, you can’t come. So on August 15th we want everyone to sign up. Some emails will come out towards the end of August or early September regarding some of the awards as there are some that require people to pre-register for.
Samuel Girven: What can people expect upon arrival?
Craig Harris: When you get there, you’re greeted, they’re assigned where to go and set up camp, and then they come in to register to get their wristbands and patches. Also, you have to leave your car in the parking lot because there are no cars in the campsites. We have a few activities on Thursday, but the camporee really starts at 7pm on Thursday evening. We’d really like to have everyone with us by then so they can experience that.
Samuel Girven: What type of on-site activities will there be?
Craig Harris: We have over 40 activities on site. We’re planning a “pioneer village” that some people from South Carolina are building. You will have tutorials on how to hand saw wood, write with a quill and many other fun activities. There’s an obstacle course, hatchet throwing, archery, blacksmithing, and we’re introducing a new one – pewter casting. People will be able to make a pewter cast of the Pathfinder emblem. We will also have screen printing and how to do street art. Nathan Greene will teach the honor of drawing and painting. We also have marching and exercise activities. We have many tributes that we will be teaching such as owls, bats and birds of prey. There are so many fun things people can do.
Samuel Girven: How about some of the new on-site activities that are planned?
Craig Harris: The award for drawing and painting with Nathan Greene is new. Hatchet throwing is also new. Archery is also new. We haven’t had archery for 15 years. We’ve also never had a full obstacle course, so that’s new too.
Samuel Girven: As far as I know, a “5K with a twist” is planned. What can you tell us about this?
Craig Harris: We’ve never done a 5K before. We stay on campus and run around the campground and through the obstacle course. We hope to add a mud pit. It will certainly have some “twist” to a regular 5K. But if you don’t want to be “Fearless” with that, you can still do the regular 5K.
Samuel Girven: You mentioned street art. That sounds very interesting. What’s the story behind it?
Craig Harris: There’s a guy (Milton Coronado) who just knows how to make building sides beautiful. We call it street art, but you can also use what you learn to create a banner or poster. He is very gifted and will teach the basics of street art.
Samuel Girven: Let’s talk about some of the offsite activities.
Craig Harris: We’ve partnered with Andrews University for some offsite activities. The biology department will teach some honors and the physical therapy department will teach bone and muscle honors. The chemistry department will teach the chemistry honor. Honors from other departments are also in the works. All sorts of cool stuff that professors will teach. Groups can also visit the Nature Museum and Nature Center there. We also do boat and canoe trips and plane trips. There is also hiking and mountain biking. We host a three-on-three basketball tournament, swimming, rock climbing and soccer – these are just a few of the off-site activities.
Samuel Girven: A lot of night programs are also planned. Tell us about it.
Craig Harris: We have invited Armando Miranda, Director of our North American Division Club Ministries, to open the Camporee on Thursday, and we have also invited our World Pathfinder Director, Andres Peralta, to speak on Friday and the Sabbath. We are pleased to have our Pathfinder leaders from North America and the world church on the Camporee. We’ve got some good chants and messages planned, and some good natural nuggets too. But it is mainly preached on the main stage. There will also be some baptisms on the Sabbath, so that will be a lot of fun. Our main stage is in the grandstand at the Berrien County Fairgrounds. We will have a wonderful time.
Samuel Girven: What about the musical side of the night program?
Craig Harris: We have a couple of young men (Issac Peterson and Peter Flores) from Andrews University who are going to run this. Rumor has it that they are actually writing a theme song based on our “Fearless” theme. We’re really looking forward to that.
Samuel Girven: How about tips for parents? What can you say to parents who are undecided about sending their children?
Craig Harris: Some of the fence sitters don’t want their children to miss school. I really encourage parents – and teachers – to be aware that most schools allow excused absences due to the educational and spiritual aspect of Pathfindering. It’s the best education you can get. This is a very valuable experience for young people. It’s not just the local conference – there will be about 2,800 of us. It’s not just Indiana or Illinois or Lake Region or Michigan. It’s a bigger group. It’s really good for us to come together and for our young people to realize that our faith is bigger than just our local conference.
Samuel Girven: What do you hope boy scouts get away from this camporee and go home?
Craig Harris: That they fall in love with Jesus and entrust themselves to him. Just as in Daniel 1:8 – Daniel made a decision in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s delights, but he also made a decision in his heart to remain faithful to God. We hope that every Pathfinder will have in their hearts a plan to be “fearless” through Christ.
Samuel Girven: What do you think is the most important part of this Camporee?
Craig Harris: From my point of view, I really want every camper to fall in love with Jesus Christ again or for the first time. I hope they make new friends and start developing leadership skills in their own club. Whether you are in 5th or 12th grade, there are opportunities for you to lead. Camporees is all about spiritual growth, making new friends and developing those leadership skills. And of course fun – we want to have fun, right? You want to have fun driving. You want to enjoy your spiritual walk. Those are the things we hope everyone gets away with and I think those are the most important.
Samuel Girven, 15, is a student of Northview Adventist School and ASPIRE Academy and a member of the Cadillac Church.