One of the reasons I love being a Seventh-day Adventist is because of the best summer of my life.
The best summer of my short existence was not spent in some exotic place as a tourist discovering hidden secrets of an unfamiliar place. It was not spent at a summer camp as a camper or a counselor enjoying what the great outdoors has to offer day and night. It was not even spent in the comforts of my own home, sleeping and relaxing.
The best summer of my life so far was spent marching around in a church parking lot for hours with a group of young people around my age. The best summer of my life was the summer I spent in Pathfinders.
It was early 2004. Winter was still in full force. My brother and I reluctantly walked down two flights of stairs into a church basement with my father trailing behind us. My parents had successfully coerced us into joining the Pathfinder Club at Bramalea Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although I had spent the early portion of my childhood growing up at Bramalea (in Ontario, Canada), the latter part of my childhood was spent at another church. So when we reached the bottom of the stairs, we recognized some of the faces, but we were completely unfamiliar with the people.
I was absolutely mortified.
For adolescent teens, being accepted is a driving force in many of our decisions and choices. On that winter day, when our feet touched the basement floor, we became the outsiders in a group of people who had grown up together and known each other for a big part of their lives. I started to compile a list of ideas of how I could get them to like me and accept me.
But before I could even begin to prove myself, this particular group of young people greeted us with a smile, invited us to join their ranks, and included us in all of their interactions. Eventually, my uneasiness subsided, as well as my need to prove I was likable. They accepted us with no conditions. After a couple of meetings, I began to look forward to my weekly Sunday afternoon appointment with my Pathfinder Club. What began as slow and reluctant steps down the stairs transformed into fast and hurried leaps to the bottom.
We drilled together. We learned together. We grew together.
By the summer of 2004, we were family.
By the end of the summer, we had spent more time together than I spent with my own family. We found ourselves in that parking lot almost every evening during the week, perfecting our marching moves and cleaning up our routine. By the end of the summer, we were champions in three drill competitions in the Greater Toronto area. We also placed first in the fancy drill competition at the Faith on Fire international camporee.
By the end of the summer, we had priceless memories that unknowingly shaped us and contributed to who we are today.
Pathfinders taught me three things that also apply to my faith and my church:
- When we prepare for a drill competition, we practice a certain sequence of moves that we commit to memory. But when we perform at the actual venue, there may not be enough space, or we may run into complications, so we learn to trust our captain when he shouts a command that is out of sequence because he sees the bigger picture from afar.
- When we come up with a drill sequence, we may all have different ideas of how it should flow. What makes a great drill routine is when we have all taken the time to share our ideas and thoughts, respectfully combining what works and what doesn’t. The point is, in order for us to perform to the best of our abilities, we must all feel some sort of ownership over the routine.
- We are not an exclusive club only for those in the faith or for members of our church: we are open to anyone who is willing to learn, discover, and grow with us.
So, when someone asks me why I love being a Seventh-day Adventist, I smile and tell them about the best summer of my life.