I spent part of last evening on the phone with some people from Vermont. Those of you who have been following this blog for the past month or so can probably guess what that was about – the Pathfinders have a volunteer assignment to help clean up after Hurricane Irene.

Our Conference Pathfinder Fall Camporee has been scheduled for Molly Stark State Park in Wilmington, VT for about a year. Actually, it’s been a little longer than that. It was either last year of the year before that we were scheduled to have our Camporee there, but there was a tremendous storm in the forecast, so we had to back away. This was more than a thunderstorm, but less than a hurricane. I think it has taken us two years to get back to Molly Stark.

My first Camporee in the Northern New England Conference was at Molly Stark, and I was looking forward to going back there.

Then came Irene.

It didn’t look like we would be able to camp there at all, since parts of Wilmington were unreachable by road. However, Molly Stark was (and is) still reachable, and it sustained little damage (even though it was right in the thick of it).

My involvement with Pathfinders and Adventist Community Services – Disaster Response (ACS-DR) put me in a unique position to try to get our organizations to coordinate and help out. I thought ACS-DR might deploy to set up a warehouse, but that did not happen (we do not have a formal agreement with Vermont yet). Then I asked our conference Pathfinder leadership if they would be open to having us help out while we were there camping. They were open to it if I could find us an opportunity.

So I went back through ACS-DR who went through Vermont’s VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster). Things were moving along, but slowly! Finally I got a deadline from the Pathfinder leadership – if we didn’t have an assignment by Friday, we would not be able to help. As Pathfinders, we needed time to organize the clubs in our conference and have them ready to work. That’s not a surprise we can spring on the clubs when they arrive ready to camp.

The organizations in Vermont got back to me initially saying that they were still buried. People didn’t know what they would be doing in two days, much less in a week. I was bounced back up the chain, and a guy at SerVermont kept at it. He put me in touch with someone in Wilmington, and she had the perfect opportunity for us – cleaning river debris from the municipal park.

I closed the loop with the Pathfinders last night, went to bed, and then had a hard time sleeping, wondering how we were going to manage to volunteer on Friday afternoon (we had proposed two times – Friday afternoon and Sunday morning).

I met with Paul at church this morning – this is the same Paul who has been teaching the Fire Safety and Fire Fighting honors to our club. He is the Pathfinder Leadership in our Conference, and he is a member of my local church. He had decided to cancel the activities that had been planned for the Sunday morning of the Camporee and serve that community instead. We were a go (he apparently thought that Friday was not a very workable option either). He sent the official announcement out to all the conference Pathfinder clubs this evening describing our assignment. The description included the list of tools I received from my contact in Vermont: wheelbarrows, pickup trucks, a few chainsaws, yard waste bags, iron rakes, flat shovels, work boots we can get wet, work gloves, and nitro gloves to wear underneath them.

I think it would have been a crime for a large youth-oriented service organization such as my beloved Pathfinders to camp in the middle of a disaster area and do nothing more than roast marshmallows.

All systems go.