Understanding Pathfinder Leadership Training Programs

Master Guide
Pathfinder Leadership Award
Pathfinder Instructors Award
Teen Leadership Training

Master Guide

In 1927 a program for training the adult lay members of the church to minister to the youth of the church was officially approved. This program was named Master Comrade. The very first Master Comrade Investiture took place in 1931. Twenty years later, in 1951, the name was changed from Master Comrade to Master Guide.

Through the years several changes and modifications were made to the program. At one period in time the program was split into two tracks, Junior Youth and Senior Youth.

In 1989 a completely restructured program was introduced at the Friendship Camporee. The following is excerpted from the Pathfinder Leadership Awards Handbook which introduced the “new” Master Guide:

The Master Guide Course has been structured as a natural flow from the Guide course and its content is such as would have appeal and interest to a 16 to 19 year old. It was felt that the Pathfinder organization would be failing if it did not promote a course that encouraged young people beyond the Pathfinder age to continue with the Club and become aware of the value of leadership skills.

Because of its closely connected work with Pathfinders, this class is seen as a transition between Pathfinder ministry and senior youth ministry. It is expected that those in the Master Guide program be active in church activities relating to Pathfinder age children.

As Senior Youth they find nurture and growth with other Senior Youth, but work with the Pathfinders. This course is viewed as the first award in youth leadership and not the ultimate award as the previous program bearing the same name would indicate.”

This “new” Master Guide was almost immediately and universally rejected by the constituents of the North American Division. It was rejected for the obvious reason that the word “MASTER” has real meaning. It means that the bearer of that label is a highly trained and experienced person, not a beginner. When one hears the term Master Mechanic he/she expects to have a trained and experienced person working on their car, not someone who is beginning to learn the trade.

When the North American Division Pathfinder Committee was formed in 1992 it was given a mandate to restore the “old” Master Guide program, updating and modernizing it in the process. The committee was instructed to make the program challenging, adult oriented and not restricted to the Pathfinder program but connected to all aspects of youth ministry in the church. The current Master Guide program (1994) and Master Guide Manual (1996) is the result. The current program is designed to provide thorough training of adults to minister to the youth of the church. The Master Guide program is not an advanced class level for the AY Guide class. When a person is invested as a Master Guide he/she will have completed at least one full year as a regular Adventurer or Pathfinder Club staff, he/she will have taught, on his/her own, at least two AY Honors or three Adventurer Awards, he/she will have a thorough knowledge of Adventist Heritage and beliefs, he/she will understand the age group to which he/she is ministering, and he/she will have training in communication and leadership skills. In other words, when a person is actually invested as a Master Guide he/she is to have the training and experience necessary to accept to the responsibilities of youth leadership. It is the top youth ministry award in the church. All other training programs are to enhance it and provide additional skills in particular areas.

Pathfinder Leadership Award

The Pathfinder Leadership Award was introduced to provide specialized training in developing skills unique the operation of the Pathfinder program. It does not in any way supersede the Master Guide award, it is simply continuing education in Pathfindering.

Pathfinder Instructors Award

The Pathfinder Instructors Award was introduced concurrently with the Pathfinder Leadership Award. It is a course designed as an additional training unit for Pathfinder staff members and as a means to provide qualified instructors for the many seminars necessary for the training of other Pathfinder staff. The emphasis is on the training of PIA candidates to become qualified instructors for the following areas:

  • Starting and nurturing Pathfinder Clubs

  • Pathfinder Basic Staff Training Course

  • Seminars necessary for the fulfillment of the Master Guide requirements

  • Seminars necessary for the fulfillment of the Pathfinder Leadership Award
it is not a program designed to train persons to teach Pathfinders, but to teach presentation skills to adult Pathfinder staff. These presentation skills are to then be used to teach skill development workshops for Pathfinder staff.

Teen Leadership Training
The Teen Leadership Training program was also developed as a direct result of scuttling the “new” Master Guide program. It's purpose is to provide a connection and continuation for the Pathfinder from the Pathfinder classwork to Pathfinder Club leadership. The TLT program does not constitute a new organizational entity, It is a training program. It does not replace any of the standard classwork. In fact, if the Pathfinder is not invested in the regular AY classwork for his/her grade he/she is not be considered as having successfully completed his/her TLT program Level and therefore is not eligible to receive the Star for that Level. It is understood that with the challenge of the regular classwork and high school responsibilities, not every Pathfinder of high school age can or should be in the TLT program.

Each of the training programs provided by the church for the Pathfinder program has a very specific goal and purpose. With the exception of the regular AY classwork, none of the awarded programs are designed to be completed in less than two years. Even the Guide class may require more than one year to complete. The result of short cutting and/or modification of requirements to fit shorter time frames will be to devalue the programs and promote the feeling of entitlement that is having such a destructive effect in our society today. We will be displaying Award patches and honor patches and other labels on our Pathfinder uniforms and sashes that we know we did not earn. Accept the challenge to be thoroughly trained and to thoroughly train those you are training to become our leaders. Please respect yourselves, the church, its training programs, and, most of all, the children you are teaching.