Sue Bargas, director of the Arvada Golden Eagles Pathfinder club in the Rocky Mountain Conference, does the work of 20 people, according to one of her former Pathfinders, Alonna Dickhaut. “She’s compassionate, selfless, and always puts Pathfinders first,” Alonna says.
Sue started working with Pathfinders as an assistant in 1985, and became club director in 1994. She has brought her club (averaging 10 members) to every Camporee except one, and that was because there were no kids able to come that year.
The Arvada Adventist Church is very international, including members from Ghana, Mexico, Peru, Uganda, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Bolivia and Russia. But Sue and her husband Al, the club’s handyman and inventor, are able to draw most of the youth into Pathfinders.
Among those they have attracted and mentored over the past few years are sisters Akua Boatemaa Owusu-Ansah and Akua Frimpomaa Owusu-Ansah, both of whom are now directing Pathfinder clubs of their own in separate locations. The eldest sister, Akua Boatemaa, who was invested as a Master Guide by Sue in 2009, is leading the Renton Warriors in the Washington Conference. The younger, Akua Frimpomaa, who was invested by Sue at this Camporee, is directing the Fargo Falcons in the Dakota Conference.
Alonna, who was a student at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, last year was also a member of the Golden Eagles club during the years these two sisters attended. Now she instructs the Tulsa Twisters drill team in the Oklahoma Conference.
“We reconnect during camp meetings or Pathfinder Bible Experiences,” says Akua Frimpomaa. “We share close friendships and are tightly bonded.”
This mentoring is intentional, and Sue believes it is one of the most rewarding benefits of Pathfindering. “Many of our Pathfinders come a long distance to church,” Sue explains, “and they can only come once a week. So we have potluck and Pathfinders on Sabbath afternoon, then we open the gym in the evening and play games and have snacks. We just stay all day for those who want to.”
Leadership Continues to Expand
One of the Bargas’ greatest strengths is organization. Al converted a trailer for the club that has a place to hang uniforms and shelves for storing supplies and camping gear. He also created a camping sink and a solar water heater. “The more organized you are starting out, the easier it is!” exclaims Sue.
Sue’s three mentees all agree that she is also very organized with managing the paperwork and forms and communicating with parents. “A lot of the things I do in my club are exactly what Sue did,” says Akua Boatemaa. “She taught us how to do things and how to learn responsibility.”
Sue’s former Pathfinders recall that they had “the best Pathfinder room ever.” Each member had his or her own cubby and there was a beautiful mural painted on the wall illustrating the Golden Eagles’ club verse: Isa. 40:31.
At Akua Frimpomaa’s Red River Church in Fargo, North Dakota, their club leads out on Pathfinder Sabbath and the TLTs preach. “We have a good support system,” says Akua. “We reward Pathfinders for attendance and following instructions.” Each year, they give out a Pathfinder Girl and Pathfinder Boy of the Year Award to outstanding youth.
Sue points out that the Rocky Mountain Conference has a strong Teen Leadership Training program. “Sue putting me a leadership position when I was the oldest TLT made me feel like I was responsible for the others. The reason I stayed in Pathfinders was because of my leadership position,” says Akua Boatemaa. “Now I am finding teen Pathfinders to start mentoring.”
Alonna is also giving responsibilities to TLTs in her club. “I’m a junior staff, but I am still mentoring,” she says.
Four years later, this diverse group of four Pathfinder leaders are still connecting, still learning from one another, and still focused on growing relationships for eternity as they pass on the mantles of leadership.
Photo: Hugh Davis