Paradise SDA Church’s Shiloh Pathfinder Club is part of an international faith-based scout organization for boys and girls ages 10 to 15. For those who are familiar with it, Pathfinders brings to mind images of marching, camping, community service, and completing numerous honors. Enlarging our youth’s windows on the world and building a relationship with God are the dual objectives of this club. With nearly 2 million members around the world, this Seventh-day Adventist Church-sponsored club accepts any youth who promises to abide by the Pathfinder Pledge and Law regardless of their church affiliation.
Club activities encouraged range from community/civic service projects in local communities and across the globe, to nature and environmental conservation studies, to camping and high adventure trips. Pathfindering challenges the unique talents of each member. Pathfindering is built on an age-specific curriculum of six levels along with approximately 350 specialized skill development topics covering arts and crafts, aquatics, nature, household arts, recreation, spiritual development, health, and vocational training. These often serve as a launching point for lifetime careers or hobbies.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is committed to understanding young people and training its youth for leadership and service to humanity.
The Pathfinder Club is a church-centered spiritual-recreational-activity program designed especially for young people 10 to 15 years of age. Pathfindering appeals to this age group because its program features activities that meet their needs and interests. Much of the Pathfinder Club program is built around physical action. This is because youth from 10 to 15 years of age are in a fast-growing physical stage of development. It is filled with action, adventure, challenge, group activities, and provides opportunities for the development of new attitudes and skills that produce personal growth, team or community spirit and a sense of loyalty and respect for God, His Creation, and His church.
While the Pathfinder Club exists primarily for youth, one of its basic purposes is to also bring together parents and church members through active involvement with the club and its members. Here the so-called generation gap disappears as young and old worship, work, and play together in a bond of common experience. Meaningful relationships are forged as leaders and counselors join with Pathfinders in sharing, building confidence, and working together.
The whole philosophy of Pathfindering is built on the premise that “children learn best by example, rather than precept.” As they see leaders and parents model spiritual and social values, they too will aspire to develop high moral principles, loving and caring attitudes, and determination to excel in all their various pursuits.
Young people learn most effectively in a positive, happy, and secure atmosphere. The attitude of the club leaders is therefore a vital ingredient in guaranteeing the success and effectiveness of this ministry to youth. A failure to listen to and understand the needs of the young people will only erect barriers to real spiritual growth and development and may prove to be a contributing factor in making the church and its mission unattractive to the youth.
This philosophy is an integral part of the club. The Pathfinder Club curriculum of six classes and nearly 350 Honors lies at the heart of the program. The following objectives can be achieved as the club leaders seek to fulfill these.
Help the young people to understand that God and His church love them, care for them, and appreciate them. As Pathfinders are accepted and affirmed they will begin to appreciate the love of God revealed through the church and its ministry, and feel a need to be more committed to and involved with its program.
Encourage Pathfinders to discover their own God-given potential and to use their gifts and abilities to fulfill God’s expectations for them and the part they can play in the great plan of salvation.
Inspire young people to give personal expression of their love for God by uniting them together in various outreach activities.
Make the number one priority of your club program the personal salvation of every Pathfinder. The Pathfinder age is a time when many decisions are being made that will affect the youth’s future relationships and his or her own personal development. The peak time for discovering and making a relationship with God seems to be around 12 years of age.
Build into a Pathfinder’s life a healthy appreciation and love for God’s creation by enjoying outdoor activity (campouts, nature walks, nature honors, etc.). Pathfinders will experience a sense of wonder and worship as they observe and explore the beauty, the majesty, and the creative power in nature. Fellowship with God will become more meaningful.
Teach Pathfinders specific skills and hobbies that will make their lives more meaningful and will occupy their time with profitable accomplishments. Young people experience satisfaction and delight as they use their hands to fashion useful articles from wood, plastic, steel, clay, felt and yarn and as they discover how things work and operate.
Encourage the Pathfinder to keep physically fit. This is one important way to safeguard against idleness and boredom. Teach children to care for their body and establish habits that will provide for their future happiness and usefulness (cf. 2T 536, 537; Educ. 195).
Give opportunity for the development of leadership by encouraging club members to work together and share in leadership responsibility. This will teach them to learn the lessons of obedience, discipline, resourcefulness, patriotism and the processes of group dynamics.
Seek to foster the harmonious development of the physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual life of the Pathfinder. The invigoration of mind and body, the fostering of an unselfish spirit, the attention to recreational and cultural activities, will provide stimulus for personal growth and act as an outlet for that restless energy, which is so often a destructive source of danger to the young person.
Pathfinder Aim: The Advent Message to All the World in My Generation
Explanation: My relationship to Jesus Christ is of such a nature that it compels me to share with any who will receive it, the gospel—the good news of His soon return.
Pathfinder Motto: The Love of Christ Compels Me
Explanation: I am drawn to Him by His exemplary life, the symbolic act of His crucifixion, His conquering resurrection, and His promise of an earth made new in the pattern of the original creation. The closer I find myself to Him, the closer I find myself identifying with the needs of my fellow human beings.
Pathfinder Pledge Explanation
By the grace of God…
I will be pure…
I will be kind…
I will be true…
I will keep the Pathfinder Law…
I will be a servant of God…
Friend to man…
Only as we rely on God to help us can we do His will.
I will fill my mind with everything that is right and true and spend my time in activities that will build a strong, clean character.
I will be considerate and kind, not only to my fellow man, but also to all of God’s creation.
I will be honest and upright in study, work and play and can always be counted upon to do my very best.
I will seek to understand the meaning of the Law and will strive to live up to it’s spirit, realizing that obedience to law is essential in any organization.
I will pledge myself to serve God first, last, and best in everything I am called upon to be or do.
I will live to bless others and do unto them as I would have them do unto me.
Pathfinder Law Explanation
Keep the morning watch…   
Do my honest part…    
Care for my body…  
Keep a level eye…        
Be courteous and obedient… 
Walk softly in the sanctuary…   
Keep a song in my heart…      
Go on God’s errands…                        
I will have prayer and personal Bible study each day.
By the power of God I will help others, and do my duty and my honest share,   wherever I may be.
I will be temperate in all things and strive to reach a higher standard of physical fitness.
I will not lie, cheat or deceive, and will despise dirty talk or evil thinking.
I will be kind and thoughtful of others, reflecting the love of Jesus in all my associations with others.
In any devotional exercise I will be quiet, careful and reverent.
I will be cheerful and happy and let the influence of my life be as sunshine to others.
I will always be ready to share my faith and go about doing good as Jesus did.
The first Pathfinder Club of record was in Anaheim, California directed by John McKim and Willa Steen. This club began in the late 1920’s and ran through the 1930’s. In 1944 McKim died and the Steens had moved. In 1930 Lester and Ione Martin with co-directors Theron & Ethel Johnston began a club in Santa Ana, California. Both of these first clubs were in the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and encouraged by Youth Director Elder Guy Mann and his associate Laurance A. Skinner. For several years there were no clubs of record.
In 1946 John H. Hancock, then the youth director for Southeastern California Conference got a club going in Riverside, California. John designed the Pathfinder triangle emblem and got a ministerial student, Francis Hunt to direct the club. Both John and his wife Helen Hancock taught honors.
By 1947-48 Southern California Conference began having Pathfinder clubs – the first at Glendale, with Lawrence Paulson as director. About that same time, the Central California Conference, under the direction of Youth Director Henry T. Bergh, began their Pathfinder program — starting 23 clubs that first year.
Beginning with the God-directed program, called Pathfinder Clubs, in California, the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist church adopted the program. It thus, in 1950, became an official worldwide organization of the Adventist church, and grew rapidly.
Pathfinders is now a global ministry affecting nearly two million young people worldwide.