A small, but mighty Pathfinder group from Rockville, Md. (Rockville Disciples) worked tirelessly with their congregation to sponsor 136 Pathfinders from Kenya (New Life Flying Marines Pathfinder Club) to attend Oshkosh Pathfinder Camporee this year. The group, comprised of just 15 Pathfinders, three directors and six counselors, threw themselves into fundraising and prayer to give their international brothers and sisters a trip to remember.
The connection to Kenya began in 2016. Donna Neufville and Petronella Barrow, Rockville’s associate Pathfinder directors, went to Kenya for the wedding of a young lady who attended the church while going to school in the States. “While we were there, we met Jane, the associate director for the local club, and began talking about Oshkosh. Jane indicated they had been before, but hadn’t had the best experience.” The group had been sponsored by different teams, putting them—including families—on different schedules. Neufville says her and Barrow wanted to see what they could do to make this group’s Oshkosh experience a better one this time around.
“We decided to sponsor the group as a whole,” explains Neufville. “Sponsoring means we will provide camping equipment like tents and blankets and cover the cost and preparation of food—three or four meals a day. Initially we thought we would be sponsoring between 70 and 100 from Kenya, but the total ended up being 136. In addition, we sponsored five from Jamaica and provided meals for 10 Pathfinders from Alabama.”
Many feel daunted by the idea of fundraising, but Neufville and Barrow say they do it all the time at the Rockville church. “We have several ongoing and cycling fundraisers each year, including fruit sales, a shoe fashion show, fundraising walks as well as a 100% donation matching through several companies that members in our church own or work for,” says Neufville. “We use this money in areas we feel may need it the most and Pathfinders and young adult ministries is a big part of that.” This year, the Banner Life Insurance Company matched the $10,000 raised among these efforts.
“We are blessed to have had this opportunity. It was a palpable way to understand God’s grace and understanding. It’s not about being small or large, it’s about going above and beyond—which is what God does daily for us. People said we were crazy—even to feed that many people—but I say, if you can feed ten, you can feed 100! We hope other clubs will be inspired to sponsor groups for Oshkosh 2024! We can’t wait!”