IS IT SAFE? At Pathfinder, safety is our highest priority. We are the only organization in Florida accredited by the Association for Experiential Education. Pathfinder facilitators undergo extensive training for all activities and also are certified in First Aid, CPR and AED. All staff undergo a Level 2 screening. Each group is supervised by at least one Pathfinder facilitator with a maximum ratio of 1:25 participants. A chaperone from your school/organization also accompanies each group. We also care about your emotional safety. We ensure the learning environment is one where everyone can communicate openly and trust fellow participants. Pathfinder is a place for people to speak up, test out leadership skills, hear and acknowledge new voices and grow as a person so you can contribute to your community in a meaningful way.
We believe much of the value in Pathfinder's program is that it is an opportunity for youth to try something new. This might be being away from home for the first time, taking a walk in the woods at night, or participating in the high ropes course. We encourage all families to understand it might be scary to allow your child to participate, but what they gain and experience will ultimately make them safer. Studies show that when children have an opportunity to challenge themselves and learn how to manage risk while in a trusted environment, they will be better prepared later on to make safe, healthy choices as teens and adults.
WHAT ACTIVITIES WILL I PARTICIPATE IN AT PATHFINDER? Pathfinder offers over 40 curriculum choices that vary by age and location. Most activities are outdoors and all of them are educational, challenging, and fun. Pathfinder activities have a minimum of lecture and focus instead on experience-based learning. Participants actively engage in exploring, discovering, pondering, creating, thinking and doing an activity. Then they debrief their experience with the guidance of Pathfinder facilitators. The debrief is designed to draw parallels between what was experienced by the participant and what may be experienced in real life.
WHAT WILL MY ROOM/DORM/LODGING AND BATHROOMS LOOK LIKE? IS THERE AIR CONDITIONING AND HEAT? All dorms and lodgings at our partner camp and conference centers are climate controlled (including heat and a/c), clean and comfortable. Each location has a different sleeping arrangement. Some have bunk beds with up to 16 people per room, others have only two people per room, and at some locations private rooms are available, usually for adults. The bathrooms also range in size and accessibility from location to location and range from a private bathroom to a large shared bathroom with six sinks, six showers, and six toilets. All showers and toilets are contained in private stalls with doors or curtains.
WHAT IS THE FOOD LIKE? Although the food varies from location to location, all meals are served in large climate controlled dining rooms and they are all-you-can-eat. There will always be two entrée choices and a vegetarian option and most lunches and dinners will have the choice of items from the salad bar and include dessert. Beverages such as iced tea, lemonade, and juice are served, with coffee for attending adults.
WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES? WHEN ARE MEALS? Youth groups typically arrive some time before lunch on their first day and leave after lunch on their last day. Your group leader will choose the activities before you arrive. An up-to-date schedule will be posted in your meeting room after your group arrives. Meals are usually: breakfast at 8:30 am, lunch at 12:30 pm, dinner at 6:00 pm. Mealtimes may vary depending on the activities chosen or special requests by the camp/conference center.
CAN I CHOOSE MY GROUP AND ROOMMATES WHILE ATTENDING PATHFINDER? WILL I BE WITH MY FRIENDS? Your teacher or group leaders will make dorm and activity assignments prior to arrival. There are usually opportunities to spend time with other groups and pick your own small groups within activities.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK? Please refer to the Bring Along List when packing for your Pathfinder visit. We recommend you bring everything on the list! All camp/conference centers require you to bring your own bedding. Also, be sure to bring two pairs of shoes (in case of rain) and clothes for both warm and cool weather. At least one pair of shoes must have closed toes, i.e. sneakers or hiking boots, not sandals. Water shoes are recommended if your program includes any water activities. Definitely bring a refillable water bottle with your name on it. We are outdoors most of the time – both night and day – so sunscreen, a hat, and bug spray are very important. Do not bring your most expensive or irreplaceable clothing or personal items that might be lost or damaged.
Some groups disallow the use of electronic items, such as video games, while at Pathfinder (although they may make exceptions during the bus ride). You may bring snacks but please be sure to keep food away from your dorms after you arrive. We usually put our snacks in a central meeting area to keep our sleeping areas clean.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR WHILE PARTICIPATING IN PATHFINDER PROGRAMS? In general, dress for comfort in the outdoors. Remember to put on sunscreen when you get dressed in the morning. Besides canoeing or swimming during free time, closed-toe shoes are a requirement, i.e. sneakers or hiking boots, not sandals. Some activities do require special clothing. If your group is canoeing, bring sandals with a back strap so they stay on your feet. Flip-flops and slip-ons are not permitted during canoeing or water activities because they can fall off. During evening programs we strongly recommend pants; long sleeved shirts are also suggested. If your group chooses to offer swimming as a free time option, then you must wear a swimsuit that is school-appropriate.
CAN I CALL HOME OR MAKE A PHONE CALL WHILE AT PATHFINDER? While phones are easily accessible in case of emergency, your group leader specifies when phone calls are permitted. Typically, phone calls are allowed in the evening or during free time (4:30 to 6:00 pm) and not during classes, just like at school. We also request that youth do not carry their cell phones during classes so they aren’t lost or damaged. The on-site phones can be used for outgoing collect calls or with a credit card or calling card. Please ask the Pathfinder Site Director when you arrive if you need help with the use of the on-site phones.
WILL THERE BE ANY FREE TIME WHILE AT PATHFINDER? We usually allow a break between 4:30 and 6 pm every day. Attending adults are required to chaperone during this time while Pathfinder staff prepare for the evening activities. Pathfinder staff are available at all times if there are any questions or needs. Free time choices will be assigned by group leaders but may include swimming, sports such as volleyball, tennis and basketball, or hanging out in the main meeting room. After a brief visit to the dorms to prepare for free time, youth must be with their group and their chaperone. Youth are not permitted to spend free time in their dorms without supervision.
WILL WE SEE WILD ANIMALS LIKE ALLIGATORS DURING OUR PATHFINDER PROGRAM? Since we are spending time in the outdoors and in a natural setting, it is always possible to see wild animals such as birds, armadillos, and even an alligator. All Florida waterways are able to host either alligators or crocodiles but because we are usually in a large group and making a lot of noise, alligators tend to shy away and they are a very rare sight.
SHOULD I BRING MONEY TO MY PATHFINDER EVENT? IS THERE A GIFT SHOP? There isn’t a gift shop but Pathfinder t-shirts may be available for $10. It is up to the individual school or group whether youth should bring money to a Pathfinder program. All necessities such as food, lodging, and curriculum are included in the Pathfinder experience but some groups may stop before or after for snacks or a meal. Some locations have a soda machine.
Communities of inclusion, integrity, and sustainability.
To deliver fun, challenging adventures that help people learn about themselves, others, and the environment.
Pathfinder's Core Values:
Respect. Integrity. Choice. Cooperation. Fun. Caring. Growth.