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Leadership and The Pathfinder Counselor

Pathfinder boasts a large staff of young men homegrown from camper age, dedicated to canoe country expertise and individual attention. A specialized complement of expert young women join in, creating a 1:2 staff to camper ratio unique in camping.

Our boys can grow personally, connect to the natural world, stretch their abilities and boundaries, and make wonderful friendships -- all with their counselors close at hand. The Pathfinder experience is about sharing adventures in a cooperative spirit, and this is modeled by a quality staff, in camp and on the trail. Our counselors give their guys that magic mix of challenges and encouragement, then reward each genuine effort and milestone. They possess that rarest ingredient - empathy - and share the excitement, skills and maturity from their own camper years.

Pathfinder's Senior Staff is made up of men who themselves were campers, counselors and head guides at Pathfinder over the years. They average over 15 years' Pathfinder experience. Our trip guides and area supervisors in camp have been through a 3-year apprenticeship and many camper years. Our counselor staff, ages 17-24, carry specialized certifications as lifeguards, wilderness first aid providers, and swimming, ropes or paddling instructors.

A tradition since its founding in 1914, counselors come up through the ranks at Camp Pathfinder, inspired in their camper years, then trained from junior high school age. Counselor candidates from other camp backgrounds are sometimes accepted for one of the coveted positions based on equivalent experience and qualifications acquired at their camps.

The position of Camp Pathfinder counselor is that of a caretaker, leader and instructor of children attending the camp. Camp Pathfinder counselors provide guidance and continuity of tradition as they instill Pathfinder values of fraternity, service, teamwork, heritage, respect for the natural world, and personal goal-setting, achievement, and reflection.

The counselor staff conducts trips, camp activities, sports and programs. They supervise and live with campers in their cabin and tent groups, guide their wilderness canoe trips, and provide personal and community role modeling of the many traditions of Camp Pathfinder. These include daily and weekly observance of mealtime table grace and thanksgiving, reflection and chapel services, journaling and letter-writing, stewardship of the camp’s island ecology, service to the community, to the island, and to the fragile ecosystem of Algonquin Provincial Park. 

Counselors are responsible for role modeling and camper instruction in Pathfinder’s traditional christian values of empathy, compassion, and service; to respect for family and community, tolerance of all peoples, commitment to peace and peaceful choices in life, protection of the natural environment, and simple living of minimal impact and absent of excessive material possession and acquisition.

Pathfinder counselors possess experience in wilderness canoe trips and outdoor sport with an emphasis on paddle sports and aquatics. Counselors are required to undergo training and certification in lifesaving, wilderness first aid and emergency care, and canoeing safety. 

Counselors have and acquire additional experience in youth leadership and child development, as well as Pathfinder mission/values/leadership training in service to the community and campers.

An important tradition at Pathfinder is the steady presence of counselors with the campers. A staff man lives with 3 campers in their tent lodges. Younger boys live in lodges of 6-8 boys and 2-3 staff. Camp activity periods find the staff giving positive instruction, and rewarding every success a Camper experiences, creating that all-important 'thrill of achievement.

"Pathfinder has been such a big part of his life and his approach to life.  Problem-solving, taking responsibility, this incredible 'can do' -- 'let's get this done' attitude I see him take sometimes. We're indebted to you and the Pathfinder experience."
--Buffalo, NY parent, October 2008
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