06 July 2022 | Hlíðardalsskóli, Iceland [Marica Mirilov with tedNEWS]
100 Master Guides -representing 20 countries of the Trans-European (TED) and North American (NAD) divisions – took part in the expedition and a further 30 joined the training sessions. Together, they will carry the treasure of knowledge, skills and the unforgettable memories forged during this Master Guide Expedition & Camp, from 19 to 26 June 2022, in Hlíðardalsskóli, Iceland.
The Camp started with a 27-kilometre backpack expedition through different volcanic formations which brought the intrepid hikers to the still-steaming lava crust that emitted on 18 September 2021. On the following day, however, the notoriously unpredictable Icelandic weather brought a fierce and bitterly cold rain that completely soaked all the hikers, allowing only the most determined to complete the day’s 30-kilometre expedition. Fortunately, a trip to the local hot springs was organised, and a guided tour of the volcano’s lava tube, which restored everyone’s morale.
The Master Guide training started on Thursday with several workshop presenters. The meetings were also enriched with powerful testimonies shared by guest speaker, Dr. Andres Peralta, Associate Youth director for the General Conference.
Chris Ohlmann, Master Guide Deputy Director for the Alberta Conference, Canada, joined the camp with his wife Melissa and seven Master Guides from Alberta. Ohlmann, who strongly believes in the importance of spending time outdoors and supports the Master Guide Outdoor initiative within the NAD, took time to share his vision during one of the workshops. “As we explored Iceland together, we soaked in the beauty of God’s creation,” Ohlmann reflected. “We also faced challenges from difficult terrains and harsh weather that forced us to rely on one another. These shared experiences created many new friends and a greater connection with our Father in heaven who brought us all together.”
For Lianro WagenerSmith, an Educational Psychologist and workshop presenter, this was the first event the family attended together since her husband Anthony joined the TED team as Evangelism and Mission Coordinator in January 2022. In her workshop, WagenerSmith stressed the importance relationships in developing resilience in life. “We can’t change the hard things in a child’s life, but we have the power to be a supportive influence during pathfinder times in our clubs. We should create secure, safe, and nurturing relationships. They can be a tipping factor for children who have experienced adversities.”
The Sabbath celebration was the highlight of the Camp, allowing participants to spend time recognising God as the Creator! Many were wondering when Sabbath would start (since the sunset is at 00:03 in Iceland this time of the year). Nevertheless, the Black Sand Beach and a view of the huge Atlantic Ocean provided a perfect setting to reflect on the vastness of God’s love, share personal experiences and be united in prayer.
The investiture of four Master Guides from Cyprus, two from Poland, one from Norway, and a certified leader from Scotland felt like the most appropriate way to close the camp and to celebrate 100 years of the Master Guide movement. “It was fantastic to meet and speak to other leaders and share experiences,” said Machlon Comvalius, a Master Guide who’s been serving for over 30 years in the Netherlands. Dejan Stojković, TED Youth director, also commented, “This joined event between the two divisions is truly building the unity and cooperation of the Pathfinder movement. None of this would have been possible without the sacrifices and hard work of each staff member and volunteer who got involved. Special thanks to the Icelandic Mission Conference and their dedicated Pathfinder leader, Dr. Birgir Oskarsson, who went the extra mile to make this event a great success.”
[Photos: Dejan Stojković / CC BY 4.0]