The Pathfinder Drill and Ceremonies Manual

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Over the last three years I have been working with some of the great people of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church on this book. I need to give you some background as to why I wrote it and how it all began.

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The Pathfinder Drill and Ceremonies Manual

SDA Pathfinders

Within the church is a wonderful youth program called Pathfinders. It’s a type of scouting activity that emphasizes personal growth in many, many areas. The guidance the program provides is impressive and young Pathfinders can have a solid foundation for life by putting in the necessary hard work. That hard work can lead to becoming an adult Pathfinder with the title of Master Guide.

One area that Pathfinders concentrates on is drill and ceremonies on a grand scale in some cases. Most local churches have Pathfinder adult leaders and younger Pathfinders in leadership positions. Some churches may have only a few members who make up a squad formation, while other churches have two or more platoons making up a large company formation.

Marching has been a big part of the program to instill all the benefits of military drill and ceremonies with competitions held around the world. For American Pathfinders, they have tried to follow the Army drill and ceremonies (D&C) standards however, since the church does not support combat or the use of firearms, having Pathfinders directly use Training Circular 3-21.5 and its previous iterations (e.g., FM 22-5) for training would expose younger Pathfinders to what the church wants to avoid, firearms. This created an issue of trying to avoid the Army manual and yet still use it. A delicate balance that wasn’t working well.

The Search

There are a few Pathfinders who have created D&C training materials for the activity over the years, but these materials, while good attempts, did not cover the necessary bases. What was needed was in-depth expertise and that when the SEC began looking.

A Pathfinder here in Florida, Leanna, worked at Florida Air Academy as a TAC officer (it is no longer a military school). She spoke to the AFJROTC instructors at the school and wondered if some of the cadets could come and teach her Pathfinders. She and the instructors spoke about her goals for the training and they suggested she contact me (I was volunteering at the school at the time). We met and I began to teach.

At first, I was working with a handful of Pathfinders who were eager to work with others and spread their newfound knowledge. We worked straight from TC 3-21.5 as I taught marching concepts and moved into flag protocols, and even some exhibition drill. The training was working well and Leanna, with the blessing of the SEC leadership, added to our mission: a training manual, one written for the SEC that is also applicable to every Pathfinder in the USA. Since I’ve already written several books, this seemed like the natural progression. It took months of research, writing, rewriting, meetings, input, more writing- you get the idea. It was a massive work.

I used a rough draft of the book and created online training through Google Classroom for most of the chapters of the book. More success! Eventually, what was supposed to be a year’s worth of work turned into three years and the culmination of a book that explains everything a Pathfinder needs at every single level of training, including “Pathfinder Standards”. I discussed these specific standards with Leanna with the goal of helping Pathfinders, both very young and old. These standards define requirements of Pathfinders with disabilities, marching tempo, step size, and a couple other things.

Four versions later, a manual is born. Not only that, but several Pathfinders are DrillMaster Certified Drill Specialists for the SEC.

What the Manual is Not

It’s not a quick fix. You won’t be able to start your Pathfinder meeting by opening to page one for the first time and begin working with others. That’s not going to work at all. You don’t need access to online videos to see how to do this or that, you need to make time (not FIND time, MAKE IT), sit down, and being reading. Instant information is not always conducive to good training and does not aid in information retention.

What the Manual is

A study text. The manual is laid out as a natural progression. As an example: General Information, that you need to know before anything else; Formations, from the small club with a squad, to larger clubs, and on to parades and more; Club Meeting Formations, gives you complete information on how to use the formation during a meeting, and The Command Voice, provides guidance on properly calling commands. Do you want guidance for a Pathfinder funeral? It’s in there. Do you want to learn how to write exhibition drill for having some fun with your club? It’s in there (and here too). Do you want to know how to judge a drill and ceremonies competition? Yes, that’s also in there too.

There’s a Pathfinder Chain of Command and a list of responsibilities from the Youth Director all the way down to the brand new young Pathfinder on his or her first day. This manual, just like anything else that is worthwhile, needs the sweat of your brow to moisten the dry parts (let’s face it, the book is all about D&C, and will not be on a best seller list like some riveting novel). As a Pathfinder leader, you have responsibilities to lead others in many different ways and one of those ways is through D&C. The manual requires work. You are to be prepared to lead and teach others and this book can help you achieve that.

A teaching guide. The book is 6′ x 9″ and can fit in a cargo pocket. There is space on almost every page to write your notes. Use the book while teaching as a guide for what to teach and use your notes for how to teach the contents.

I offer this book with humble gratitude to the SEC and the other Pathfinders of the United States of America.

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