The World’s Smallest Pathfinder Club

By Christina Dotson
“So, Jaimi, what do you think of Polar Bearing so far?” Rachel asked after our first night of camping.
“Well . . .” Jaimi said slowly, “it’s warmer than I thought it would be.”
“That’s because it’s our first trip of the season,” Andy said. “You want cold, just wait ‘till we go in January.”
“I wasn’t expecting the mice,” Jaimi went on. “One of them ran over my sleeping bag in the middle of the night!”
“Oh, that was Steve,” I said. “He’s harmless.”
Jaimi stared at me. “No way did you name all the mice.”
“Sure we did,” I said. “We named them all Steve.”
From somewhere outside the cabin, a whistle began to blow.
“What’s that?” Jaimi asked.
“That’s the whistle for church,” said Rachel. “Come on, let’s go!”
“I don’t get it,” Jaimi huffed as we ran up the hill, slipping on the wet leaves. “We’re in the woods. Where is the church?”
“Right here!” I announced. We reached a small clearing at the top of the hill. A fire was already blazing in the fire pit, which was surrounded by a circle of rocks, benches, and logs that served as pews for our church.
Other Pathfinder clubs that were also camping this weekend in their own nearby cabins had already arrived and were filling up most of the seats. As usual, our club looked a little ratty and pitiful next to the larger clubs, some of whom had even worn their uniforms. I shoved my hands into the pockets of my sweatshirt and took a seat on a log next to my friends.
Even though I felt a little self-conscious, I did enjoy the church service. We sang a bunch of songs with motions so we could move around and stay warm. Then one of the leaders from another club gave a short sermon.
After the service, the same leader made an announcement. “Several of our clubs have been working on their orienteering honors,” he said. “So we decided to set up an orienteer course right here in our woods. We’d like to invite all of the clubs to join us.”
“What’s orienteering?” Jaimi whispered.
“Beats me,” I said.
“I’m sure most of you remembered your compasses,” the man went on with a small chuckle, “but just in case we brought along some extras for you to borrow.”
“What are compasses?” Jaimi asked.
“They’re those things we use to make circles in math class,” I whispered back.
“You two are an embarrassment,” said Rachel.
“Do you know what they’re talking about?” I asked.
Before I could get an answer, Rachel and Andy’s father, who helped lead our winter camping trips, walked over carrying a map. He also handed us a compass—not the kind you draw circles with, but the kind you use to find directions.
“Oh!” said Jaimi as it dawned on her. “That’s orienteering!” She paused. “I don’t know how to do that.”
“None of us do,” I pointed out.
“You’ll only learn by doing,” Rachel and Andy’s dad said.
“We’re going to get lost,” said Andy.
“You won’t get lost,” said his dad.
Fifteen minutes later, we were lost.
The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, April 18!
Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!

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The World’s Smallest Pathfinder Club

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