THE Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica is touting its flagship youth ministry, Pathfinder, as a transformational development programme that has made tangible positive changes in the lives of thousands of young people.
Speaking at this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, Pastor Joel Jump, youth ministries director for the East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, shared his own transformational journey: “As a young man I grew up in the Pathfinder club, where children below the age 10 bracket are taught value systems. What I loved about Pathfinder was going on hikes, learning endurance, and doing other activities in our classes where you learnt how to treat the young ladies, and the importance of discipline. I used to give a lot of trouble, but what the Pathfinder club did for me was allow me to have a sense of discipline and a sense of purpose. I’ve seen it bring value to other young persons who have been a part of the club over the years.”
Jump and a team led by church President Pastor Everett Brown were speaking against the backdrop of the organisation’s historic fifth Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventist Camporee which will be showcased from April 4-8, at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium in north-western Jamaica. The event, held every five years, is being held in the island for the first time.
Retired educator and liaison officer for the international groups for the regional event, Carol Hunter, also attested to the impact of Pathfinder.
“I taught at the primary, high school and college level, and find that the students who came out of the Pathfinder clubs were far more disciplined, they knew about protocol, they were well-organised and so on. So I can attest to the fact that being a Pathfinder has its value in terms of the total upbringing, and how they relate to persons,” she stressed.
Pastor Brown noted that the Pathfinder movement inculcates in young people a level of discipline similar to uniformed groups such as the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force.
“Most of those young men and young ladies who were master guides or pathfinders, you find them occupying leadership positions in the church. Leaderships skills that they’re exposed to, the outdoor activities that they participate in, it creates an atmosphere for young people to grow in a number of areas,” he said.
In the meantime, the local leadership of the church says the organisation is advocating for partnerships with corporate sponsors, as well as the input of the Jamaica Tourist Board, as with the thousands of adventists expected from across 42 countries and islands, the multi-cultural event is poised to generate tourism interest for the country, beyond the five days.
Brown said the Church is also in negotiations with the education ministry to assist youth in troubled communities to attend the camporee.
He said the event is an opportunity for Jamaican youth to “travel the world” on Jamaican soil, while participating in an event which will create economic benefits.