“If kids don’t grow up understanding about natural resources, they can’t be stewards of what God has entrusted to us.”

So said Lynn Kolund, chief ranger for the Hell Canyon District of Black Hills National Forest.  An elder in his Evangelical Free Church, Kolund was delighted to host 1,100 Seventh-day Adventist Pathfinders who share both his faith in Christ and respect for God’s creation.

“Youth these days don’t have enough connection with the natural world out there,” Kolund lamented. To help remedy that, he brought a team of rangers to the Mid-America Union Pathfinder Camporee in Custer, South Dakota—the first group to receive local training in the new “Junior Wilderness Ranger” program. Assistant ranger Laura Burns presented “Leave no trace,” a seminar that included a humorous skit, “Impact Monster.” Pathfinders learned how to enjoy the forest while making a minimal impact upon the natural environment.

Ranger Kolund paid tribute to Mid-America Union youth director Hubert Cisneros as someone with special interest in national forests and public lands. Cisneros had met Koland a few months ago on a day of desperation. Cisneros wanted the U.S. Forest Service to present a seminar to his Pathfinders at their camporee—but nobody available had the authority to approve it. “You’ve got to see the big guy,” everybody told him, referring to Kolund. But the chief ranger wasn’t available.

Disappointed, Cisneros left the forestry office to drive away, when he spotted a man striding across the parking lot. Could this be the chief ranger? He decided to approach him and find out.

“You’re Lynn Koland, aren’t you?”

“How could you tell?” the surprised ranger responded.

“By the way you are walking. I need to talk to you. All I’ve been hearing today are no’s, and I need to hear a yes from you. Can we talk?”

They did, and together they organized the magnificent educational experience that Mid-America’s Pathfinders enjoyed today.

Preceding the forestry presentation was a morning devotional by Dean Coridan, president of the Iowa-Missouri Conference. He related a heart-gripping experience from an overseas mission trip by students of Sunnydale Academy. One 92-year-old Hindu they prepared for baptism testified: “For the first time on my life I heard that there’s a Jesus in heaven, and that He has a home for me. And since he has a home for me, I want to be there.”

Coridan challenged camporee attendees that they too have good news to share.  “Pathfinders don’t have to go overseas to find people who both need and want what we have to share,” he told them. Echoing the angel’s admonition of Acts 1:11, Coridan powerfully concluded: “Don’t just stand there gazing into heaven! Go to work for Jesus! Go to the whole world and proclaim Jesus Christ.”

By Martin Weber, Mid-America Union communication director

Camporee photos from Pathfinders and their leaders are being uploaded every day on the Flickr account of the Mid-America Union, accessible below in the embedded slide show.

Photo: Paula Nelson