Pathfinders, New And Improved

Being a Pathfinder furnishes many rewards, especially when you lose a path that needs finding. It could happen on a casual Sabbath afternoon stroll up Mount Everest. That’s when I will wish I’d been a Pathfinder at some time in my life. But alas, I can share in the experience only by hearing tales of horror, er, I mean, honors and camporees from actual card-carying, flag-bearing club members.

However, because I am an outside observer, I am in a unique position to help the Pathfinder organization cast a vision for the future. The person in charge of this whole outfit has not actually called for my advice. But I suspect this is because their cell phone froze beyond repair while leading a group of pathetically ill-clad Pathfinders toward the winter camping honor.

First, iPods should be standard issue for all Pathfinders. Podcasts will provide complete step-by-step instructions for essential Pathfinder skills, such as building a weatherproof s’more and creating an underwater breathing apparatus from a Juicy Juice drinking straw. The latter will typically be used at 3:00 in the morning during a weekend campout when the rainwater level in your tent has risen above nostril level.

Second, it’s time for Pathfinders to either go for the all-out combat look or demilitarize completely. The current uniform is too confusing. (“Look over there, Marge! The 101st Airborne Division is going door-to-door! No, wait—my mistake. Those must be workers from LeRoy’s Supermarket. Look at all the canned goods they have in those bags!”)

Army surplus T-shirts and camo fatigues might be a fitting option. Machine gun ammo may be replaced with Loma Linda Saucettes, although bazooka cartridge belts may require institutional-size logs of Worthington Bolono.

Third, honors options must be expanded. Shopping Mall Survival, Advanced Dock Climbing, Amateur Explosives, and Cosmetics Without Makeup should be considered. Ministry honors might include Evangelizing Honolulu and Attracting Members of the Opposite Sect. Lethargic Pathfinders would probably enjoy Not Tying.

Fourth, camporee restroom facilities (I flush with embarrassment even to delve into the subject) need serious study by the appropriate committee. Pottstown, Pennsylvania, may be a good place to convene.

Fifth, a word about marching drills, Bible Bowls, Pinewood Derbys, and other such competitive events. It is still unproven that the Zangster, Ohio, Demons substituted a remote-controlled marching drone for Pathfinder Sammy Anderson in the conference drill-down last year. Still, competition can bring out the worst in Pathfinders. We must never forget yesteryear’s Sweet Revenge Affair, in which the wheels of several opponents’ balsa wood racers were secretly replaced with Oreo cookies. That was a messy episode. Fortunately, the main culprit gave himself away when he laughed evilly and said to the conference Pathfinder director, “That’s just the way the cookie crumbles!”

As I said, I was never a Pathfinder myself. I missed out on all the faith-building fun and friendship that is a natural part of Pathfindering. But you don’t have to miss out; that is, unless the closest Pathfinder group happens to be 150 miles away. Even then, you could sign up for the hiking honor, pack a few freeze-dried meals, and hit the trail.

With that in mind, here is my last bit of advice: heed my example and do the opposite—become a Pathfinder at any cost. Even if your club leader doesn’t hand you an iPod on registration night.

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Pathfinders, New And Improved

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