Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as “Lula,” described the third camporee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America as a rare opportunity for “narrowing the friendship links and camaraderie, for the exchange of experiences, the exercising of abilities, and for the acquisition of greater knowledge about Brazil, both on the part of the Brazilians and the visitors from other countries.”
“Camporee” is a gathering for members of the Adventist-sponsored Pathfinder club. Pathfinders is a club designed for children ages 10-16.
In the letter to camporee participants, President Lula stressed that the ideals of those at the event were in harmony with those of the Brazilian state—“the struggle for social inclusion and consequent reduction of inequalities, the exercising of love to the motherland, the valuation of education, the defense of the environment, and respect for nature.”
His message was read during the opening program to the nearly 20,000 people gathered in the city of Santa Helena, in Brazil’s South region. The majority of participants were ages 10 to 15.
Pastor Erton Köhler, the camporee’s coordinator, said the president’s address “reveals the importance of the Pathfinders Club to the country. ... For the president to associate his name with it is very prestigious to the event.”
The camporee, held Jan. 11 through 16, received a lot of media attention, including nearly 50 television mentions and 100 newspaper mentions, as well as hundreds of news stories on local radio stations and in dailies.
Giovani Maffini, mayor of the host city of Santa Helena, stated, “In one way or another all our Santa Helena community was benefited by the event, be it for the teachings transmitted by the Pathfinders, or by the generation of jobs and income, and it will be recorded in our memory. The camporee brought us all much peace and work. For that reason we want to receive you again 10 years from now,” which is when the next camporee is planned.