6 August 2019 | Ardingly, England [Victor Hulbert]
Lives are changed at Camporee! Lives are changed by Pathfinders! Two men who know this better than most are Lars Gille and Erik Henriksen. They were pioneers of Pathfindering in the Trans-European Division, attending the very first TED camporee at Västeräng, Sweden in 1971 under the leadership of then Youth director, Pastor Paul Sundqvist. They have been to every camporee since, all twelve of them.
Many people above retirement age would consider a holiday cottage in the mountain preferable to a tent, a sleeping bag, and a site packed with noisy, exuberant, and exhausting Pathfinders. Not these two. They thrive on it.
“I think it helps to keep me alive, to keep me in touch with the young people,” he says with a broad smile on his face. He shares his skills and the vast amount of knowledge he has acquired over the years, and even learns a few things from the new generation. At age 72, he is not giving up, leading his local club in Roskide, Denmark, and even looking to the future with the 13th camporee being planned for Latvia in 2023.
Pastor Gille notes that while camporees have grown from 600 in 1971 to almost 4,000 today, the principles are still the same. “For me it is just working together with young people in a practical way and seeing how their lives are changed… The most fantastic thing during the camps is to see people who have taken a decision to give their lives to Christ.” Even now he is finding himself a bit emotional when he sees a Pathfinder baptism.
“I have never stopped working with the Pathfinder work,” Gille states. “In every church I went to I was always part of the Pathfinder work, and if they didn’t have a club, I started one.”
He has very clear motivation. “This is part of the mission work of the Church,” he said, noting that he always had children coming to the club from outside the immediate church community.
“Experiences you have with Pathfinders are long lasting,” Henricksen concludes. “You don’t just forget it; you keep it for all your life.” That life for him has seen generations of children grow up to become Pathfinder leaders themselves and continue the tradition.
The two men were the ‘last men standing’ when TED Pathfinder director did a roll call of all who had attending the various camporees over the years. To rapturous applause they were then escorted to the platform to receive a special pin, commemorating their years of selfless service.
Looking out over that vast hall packed with Pathfinders, leaders, volunteers and potential leaders, they see the mission work of Pathfinders in Europe is in safe hands.
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tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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