First MAUM Pathfinder Camporee Gather 2,300 Campers

The most anticipated event for Malaysian Union Mission Youth Ministries concluded on Thursday morning, 11 April at Dantai, Kota Belud, Sabah. Around 2,300 campers journeyed approximately two hours outside the capital city of Kota Kinabalu to participate in the First Malaysia Union Mission Pathfinder Camporee. The campers came from the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Singapore, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, and Sarawak. The host Sabah Mission contributed the largest number of participants, a total of 1,700 campers. The camporee is the first of its sort since the Southeast Asia Union Mission (SAUM) was reorganised into three entities: the Singapore Adventist Conference, the Southeastern Union Mission, and the Malaysia Union Mission.

Some participants arrived at the campsite, Dantai, Kota Belud, as early as Friday, 5 April, notably the group from the Nabawan district, which is located in the interior division of Sabah. The majority arrived on Sunday, 7 April. Although it was a hot sunny day, excited campers arrived early to pitch their tents. As our team arrived on the narrow, windy road toward Dantai, dark clouds started to multiply. Upon arrival, we noticed many clubs setting up camp at their designated spots. Rain pour started around 3:15 pm, only to become stronger and stronger. It stormed for an hour and a half, causing flooding in the areas of the already-built tents. Despite the rain, the young people were determined to continue camping. Many campers dug around their tents, creating gutters to allow some drainage from the accessive rain. But the unforgiving strength of the rainfall flooded the campgrounds. One by one, the tents had to be removed.

At this point, the campers were soaked in their clothing. Some were playing in the rain, while others were rolling in the muddy waters. Nonetheless, the campers maintained high spirits. The loud storm was comparable to the loud laughter and cheers as the people rejoiced at the arrival of the rain over the Dantai. Despite the rain, the campers were not complaining. They joked around, saying that the rain that was prayed for had finally arrived. In preparation for the camporee, the church was called to pray for rain over the campgrounds. Only seven months later, on the 7th day of April, the rain arrived. The rain eventually slowed down around 6 pm with a consistent drizzle until later that night.

In wholehearted spirit, the campers convened for evening worship. As the young people were singing their second song, the electricity was abruptly cut! The hall became pitch black, and the sound system was lost. Another setback, another challenge. Yet, the campers did not stop singing. They continued singing in the dark. The harmonious sounds displayed a testament of praise and honor, worshiping God in spirit and in truth. “I am truly blessed and amazed at the spirit of pathfindering shown by our campers. First the rain, then the electricity.” MAUM Youth Director Elder Farrel shared his sincere appreciation as he addressed the leaders during the end-of-the-day briefing.

Opening Ceremony

Due to the heavy downpour, the parade and skill demonstrations scheduled in the morning had to be postponed to allow the grounds to dry up. So, Day 2 started with morning worship at the hall. Although the registered campers were around 2,300, it was reported that there were almost 3,000 people on the campgrounds. Many friends and families visited the historical event.

At 6 pm, a welcome party consisting of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) Pathfinder Coordinator, Pr. Anukul Ritchil, Malaysia Union Mission President Pr. Abel Bana, Executive Secretary Pr. Nelson Bendah, Treasurer Elder Joshua Chee, VP for NDR-IEL, and former Youth Director for SAUM Pr. Francis Amer, the mission presidents of Sarawak Mission Pr. Semilee Tajau, and Sabah Mission Pr. Feldinand Sawanai; and invited guests Youth Director of South Central India Union Pr. Anbudurai Albert and retired and former SAUM Youth Director Pr. Simon Siew awaited the arrival of the guests from the Chief Minister’s office. Together with the government entourage, they sat down for a dinner reception before the opening ceremony.

Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, Datuk Abidin Madingkir, represented the Sabah State Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji who later officiated the First Malaysia Union Mission Pathfinder Camporee and also presented his speech to the audience. In his speech, the Sabah State Chief Minister shared his support for the camporee. He believes that the commitment and enthusiasm of the youth who participated in the Pathfinder Camporee can strengthen brotherhood, cultivate noble values, and avoid negative symptoms, thus making them a valuable asset to the country.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau welcomed the organization of the youth camp, stating, “This event can truly strengthen unity and instill good values amongst the youths in the country.” In a press event after the opening ceremony, he further shared the importance of living a harmonious life, which is reflected in individual habits of forgiving one another.

The opening ceremony ended with cultural and choir performances from the mission schools.

Camporee Activities: Honour Classes, Colour Games, Market Day, Heros Bible Trivia

The 5-day camporee was packed with activities of all sorts. Aimed to educate, create awareness, demonstrate and learn skills, and share the friendship bonds among young people, activities were carefully crafted to meet the individual needs of all the participants. With campers ranging from as young as ten years of age, honour class teachers cautiously planned their classes to accommodate all the participants. Forty honour classes were offered by Masterguides from all over the country over four sessions.

On the afternoon of Day 3, the campers were divided into groups to participate in various games. The hot, blazing sun did not stop the campers from participating in the fun games such as tug-of-war, volleyball, and other fun games. The campers got wet, muddy, and tanned but were happily and actively participating in the colour games.

Market Day took place on Wednesday. Some participants prepared souvenirs such as pins and patches to sell on Market Day. Others set up traditional displays and booths selling traditional food and snacks. Campers were called to don traditional costumes when attending the market day event. At the different corners of the hall were traditional performances and sections where spectators could try traditional dances, such as the famous bamboo dance, also known as the Magunatip. Many market day visitors stopped by to participate.

Other exciting activities included a colorful presentation of cultures on Cultural Night and the Heroes Bible Trivia. For more details on this, read here: “First-Ever MAUM Heroes Tournament”.

Parade, Baptism, Investiture

The parade initially scheduled for Monday morning took place on Wednesday morning. The 2,300 registered campers assembled at the field at 6:30 in the morning. The program started with a devotional message shared by the guest of honor, SSD Director of Youth Ministries Pr. Ron Genebago together with his wife, Ma’am Jeneva Genebago. In their message, they urged the pathfinders to be a pathfinder of caliber – to live like Caleb: to focus on God, to remain faithful, and to have Caleb’s fitness. The devotional message was translated into the Malay language by Pr. Renie Ubara.

Following the devotional message was a recognition and award session. Pr. Ron presented Elder Farrel with a leadership award and, on behalf of SSD, presented an appreciation to the Malaysia Union Mission for actively creating and contributing honour programs for the Youth Ministry. He acknowledged a new honour prepared by MG Pr. Renie Ubara and his wife MG Juli Ubara called the Plasticine Clay Award and Explosion Box Honour, and MG Daniel Victor and MG Jane Daniel for the Pandemic Honor.

Next was the march pass. Fourteen regions from the Sabah Mission, one contingent from the Sarawak Mission, and one contingent from the Peninsular Malaysia Mission participated in the march pass. Receiving the march pass salute were the VIPs, church leaders, and guests who were dressed in their Masterguide A1 uniform.

The morning event ended with a baptismal ceremony. Twenty-three baptismal candidates took their vows on the hot, sunny morning and were baptised on the shore of Dantai Beach. The candidates were from the Sarawak Mission and the Sabah Mission. Among the eleven pastors baptising the candidates were MAUM Director for Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Pr. Jim Gabu, Sabah Mission President Pr. Feldinand Sawanai, Sarawak Mission Youth Director Pr. Chan Tin Loi Sarawak Mission and retired, former SAUM Youth Director Pr. Simon Siew.

In the evening, 123 Masterguides-in-training (MIT) from Sabah and Sarawak Mission were invested as masterguides in an Investiture Ceremony. The Pathfinders, MITs, and Masterguide proudly donned their uniforms during this formal occasion during the camporee. SSD Pathfinder Coordinator, Pr. Anukul Rithcil, the honoured guest, was among the leaders who invested the MITs into Masterguides and later presented awards to the selected and notable individuals. Among the awards presented were the Good Conduct Ribbon, the Long Service Award (bronze wings), the Meritorious Service Award (silver wings), and the Distinguished Service Award (gold wings). A total of 221 participants received these awards.

Closing Ceremony

The camporee ended with words of thanks and acknowledgments from the organizers and the host mission. The success of the camporee is also attributed to the generous contributions of the following sponsors:

Penang Adventist Hospital
Asia-Pacific International University
Mr. & Mrs. Sendra Gunawan
Sunny Hill Ice Cream, Sarawak
Elder & Mrs. Yew Lip Sin
Goldreeds Associates Sdn. Bhd.
SMF Asia
SKS Pavillion Sdn. Bhd.
Mr. & Mrs. Patrick Choo
Elder & Mrs. Bernard Khit
Darry Auto Accessories Mr. & Mrs. Randy Jabeng

Part of the closing event was relaunching the campsite. Kem Istirehat Dantai or Dantai Adventist Retreat Camp, previously known as Dantai, now has a new name – Dantai Elpizo Beach Adventure Camp (DEBAC).

Presiding over the Relaunching Ceremony, Sabah Mission president Pr. Ferdinand Sawanai expressed his plans to make Dantai Beach a place for church camps, youth programs, and a beach retreat. The Sabah Mission hopes to make DEBAC a place where members and people from the community can retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Dantai has been the regular campsite for mission-wide and union-wide camporees since the late 80s. To read more about Dantai, read here: “Relaunching Dantai”.

Reported by Hazel Ginajil, Communication Department

24, April 2024, Wednesday.