AYMT is based on certain assumptions about leadership development and training within Adventist Youth Ministry:
- The Master Guide Class is the expert, the advisor, the promoter for Adventurers and Pathfinders. The Master Guide Class is the top level of class achievement, of investiture. It is the “Ph.D.” of club ministry.
- The Basic Staff Training Course (BST) is primarily intended to introduce new staff to its related club ministry.
- Adventurer Leadership Growth (ALG) is intended as continuing education for Master Guides in Adventurer ministry.
- The Pathfinder Leadership Award (PLA) and the Pathfinder Instructors Award (PIA) were intended as continuing education for Master Guides in Pathfinder ministry.
The problems with the PLA
Almost two decades of experience with the PLA indicate that a better system could be developed. The seminar content had a few holes, but in general the content is broad, deep and strong. However, the framework, the structure, has proved to be problematic:
- There is much confusion on how long it should take to complete this award. Part of this is due to listed minimums being set woefully low. The original intent was for this award to take from fi ve to eight years to earn, but in many places individuals and conferences are trying to complete it in as little as a year. An example of impossible short minimum time can be found in PLA, Section II - New Skills Development, Part B. Camp Planning and Programming.
It says to take a minimum of two hours to cover the following topics: Purpose & objectives of camping, kinds of camping, camp out planning, site selections and setup, safety, first aid, first aid kits, search and rescue techniques, cooking, wild edible plants, wilderness survival, orienteering, Sabbath programming, cold weather camping.
It does say a minimum of two hours, but most people treat that as the standard, and two hours is barely enough time to introduce these topics, much less cover them to any reasonable extent.
- While the manual states that those who complete the requirements should receive a certificate of recognition, this award is being taught as if it were a higher “degree” than the Master Guide, rather than continuing education for Master Guides. From early on, we started “Investing” people with the PLA when that was not accurate.
- The desire to quickly “earn a patch” precludes the use of experiential learning since it takes much more time, thought and effort.
What about the PIA?
The PIA has it’s own unique problems:
- Because you are required to earn the PLA before you can earn the PIA, the PIA carries an image of being an “Advanced PLA,” when it’s curriculum has no innate need of being post-PLA. Once again we wrongly “Invest” PIA’s.
- In content, some of the PIA classes suffer from a high degree of redundancy as currently written.
- Nothing in the content of the PIA is Pathfinder specific.