Servant of God, Friend to Man
by V. Michelle Bernard, cover photograph by Bryant Taylor
They crawled around the yard looking for weeds, about 50 of them. Every few pulls, they’d wipe sweat from their foreheads. They repeated this for an hour then moved inside to help pack sack lunches for 750 less fortunate residents in the area. After a short snack to rest and refuel, they helped unload produce and baked goods for the next day’s meal, then returned to weeding—all of this before noon.
These do-gooders were Pathfinders and their leaders out and about, away from the packed fairgrounds of the “Forever Faithful” International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wis., this summer. In between pin trading, earning honors, exploring the massive exhibit halls and numerous other activities, Potomac Conference’s Patriots from the Fredericksburg (Va.) church and Orange Prayer Warriors from the Orange (Va.) church (some pictured, above and right) joined Pathfinders from Colorado and New York to volunteer at the Salvation Army Community Center in Fond du Lac. Pathfinders put their pledge into practice at the international camporee and leave inspired to make a greater impact in their communities.
Their tasks may seem menial, but they meant a lot to the Salvation Army staff. When they unloaded a truck full of seasonal supplies for Michael Detert, thrift store manager, it saved his staff nearly two hours of work. And, pulling weeds would have taken a single staffer more than four hours, says Connie Millard, community development director.
“As the weeds grew, people would walk past and wonder if things are okay, is there life happening there,” says Millard about their facility’s unkempt yard. “[The Pathfinders] allowed us to do what we need to do and still make [our office] beautiful,” she says. “It shows our neighbors we are here and care. It allows us to put forth our best to the community.”
But, service projects like this one do more than help a community; they also help the Pathfinders. “Pathfindering isn’t just about having fun but serving others,” says Shawna Patterson, Orange Prayer Warriors director. “It really encourages them and makes them happier.”
That mindset was obvious and the Salvation Army staff noticed.
“Kids don’t necessarily want to spend a hot summer day like that, but they did it cheerfully. Two girls even came over and gave me hugs when they introduced themselves,” says Millard. She adds, “The biggest impression I’m left with is the cheerful hearts. That makes this group wonderful ambassadors. They’ve reached more than the community; they’ve reached hearts. That is something the organizers of the camporee should be proud of.”