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International Pathfinder Camporee

Jim Hutchison • Focus on FestivalsSeptember 2019 • September 10, 2019

Photo courtesy Screenworks

Christian Worship on a Festival-Sized Scale

Summer is festival season — every kind of festival you can imagine, from Bonnaroo in Tennessee to Lollapalooza in Chicago, a wide array of festivals are flourishing during the warmer months, with people celebrating different genres of music or, quite often in agricultural communities, the harvest of the regions’ signature crops. Pumpkin festivals, squash, corn, cheese festivals, barbecue festivals, you name it.

Oshkosh, WI, known for its OshKosh B’gosh kids clothing brand and massive annual air show along with an assortment of agricultural goods, is also home to the once-every-five-years gathering of Seventh-day Adventist youth ministers and young church members between the ages of 9 and 16 known as the International Pathfinder Camporee.

At this year’s sold-out gathering, from Aug. 12-17, church spokesman Dan Weber noted that 55,000 people from 92 countries around the world attended for a week of fellowship, concerts and a mass baptism, along with other activities. “The festival almost doubles the population of Oshkosh for that week,” observes Andy Gerber from Screenworks, one of the production partners at the event. “It’s quite a sight to see.”

Each Pathfinders Camporee, five years in the making, focuses on one major element in the Bible. For 2019, the focus was on the Story of David, with a performance each night of the week. And at each event, the focus for the next Camporee is also announced. For the next event, set for Oshkosh from Aug. 12-17 2024, the focus will be on the Story of Moses.

Fireworks go off during “The Story of David.”

‡‡         A Goliath-Sized Challenge

If you have ever worked on a fledgling House of Worship production or installation, you know how difficult that situation can be — volunteers with no or little experience, safety issues, money issues, wants and desires of a full-sized arena rig with the budget that could provide some par lamps. Absolutely the same problems we face when playing college gigs with new volunteer stagehands. The challenges in worship production planning are similar any other major or minor production. The difference is, this client very much cares about the outcome of the event beyond a fiscal aspect — the production is truly core to their beliefs and their community.

Pathfinders is an organization that has a very intelligent approach to planning their Camporee productions, and many successful Houses of Worship go this route: they reach out to professional vendors for production help so that they can focus on the message without having to worry about making their vision come to life. Pathfinders are a very organized group with trust in its vendors — and they had the foresight to put major vendors in place that would take care of safely executing the design, production, and its success. In 1994, they began having Camporee events.

The FOH area and spots were set up behind the audience

Event Production and Management firm SBHH was hired to manage the size and scale of the production. Managing partners Rachel Quan and John Monroe have been with the Pathfinders through several Camporees now. “Over the time we’ve been involved with Camporee, we’ve seen exponential growth — growth in activities, growth in attendance, and definitely a growth in technology,” says Quan, one of the three managing partners of SBHH and a producer of the festival. “The first Camporee, and that was before there was any video, or even a roof over the stage, was 1994. That first year, I believe there was a wooden stage constructed by volunteers from the church, and now it’s grown to the major event it is today. SBHH came on two years ago, and we’ve been working on it solid since then.

“There is so much to be experienced at this year’s Camporee,” Quan adds, of the festival. “Every night of the week, between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., the venue is open and the festivities start. Once that gate opens, people rush in with their lawn chairs and find a good spot — this is a major event, seriously anticipated by the Pathfinders and the church.” From the minute the doors open, there is so much going on that is geared to strengthen the worshipper’s experience — from ventriloquists, to choirs onstage, to musical numbers. Quan was the one to bring LD Mark Carver on board.

The site as it was designed consisted of a 200-foot wide stage, complete with a rocky, multi-location scenic design, very much like any other major festival stage. All along both sides of the stage are semi-trailers that have been artfully covered, creating a physical wall on both sides of the stage space to create a venue out in the middle of the field where all of this is located. Campgrounds adorn the area outside the performance venue, where the groups from around the world commune together.

SBHH contracted Bandit Lites to provide the lighting package, Screenworks to provide the video screens in the rear and the camera package, Mountain Productions for the staging, and McGuire Scenic was contracted to build the massive scenic design, designed by Carrie Sefcik out of Hotopp and Associates.

The view from FOH

‡‡         Illuminating the Event

Bandit provided two semis of gear and three lighting crew for this year’s event, which took place on an airport tarmac. Bandit’s lighting package consisted of 44 sticks of Tyler Truss, carrying Lycian 1295 followspots, and a beautiful collection of high octane gear from most of the major lighting manufacturers: Martin MAC Viper AirFX, MAC Auras, Vari-Lite VL3500 Spots and Washes, GLP X4S, Elation SixPar 100 and Paladin fixtures, Claypaky B-Eye K20’s, High End Systems SolaFrame 3000’s, Chroma-Q ColorForce 48’s and 72’s, Bandit’s own GRNLite LED Washes and two grandMA2 Full consoles. Four Base Haze Touring models were also deployed to provide the outdoor atmospheric for the lighting system, which Bandit loaded in on Aug. 6, well in advance of the event’s kickoff on Aug. 12.

Lighting designer Mark Carver, well known around the scene in television lighting, quite often deals with account rep Mike Golden of Bandit Lites. “Mark Carver is one of my most favorite people,” Golden says. “He is a tremendous talent, and one of the calmest, most polite and professional people I know. Bandit has at least three of his shows in production right now; he does 10-12 shows with us yearly.

“Around a year ago, Bandit was working with Mark on a project called the Together Festival in Dallas,” Golden notes. “At that time, Mark told me about an event called Camporee which would occur this August, and I could sense even then that this project was very special to him and of a very large scale. Obviously, with a year between planning and execution, many things should change, but Mark always enters a project with a set vision, and this job was no different. Although there were some minor tweaks to the overall design, we supplied the system he envisioned a year ago.”

“I really enjoyed working with the Camporee team,” Carver says. “These are the kinds of people who I really enjoy working with, those who like to have a good time and make good art. The SBHH team and the Pathfinders folks are excellent collaborators, and this whole process felt good to me, which is what I’m looking for,” Carver states. “I was also very proud to have my son Luke with us on this one.”

With the outdoor elements and tens of thousands in attendance, Carver needed to have everything organized and timed precisely. Programmer André Petrus and model design engineer Mat Geasey were also limited to programming the five acts of the Biblically based stories in the evening, an effort made easier by pre-visualization on site from Clear All Visuals.

“The show producers and director want the show to be artistic, yet still convey proper video technical ratios for a program that is dependent on I-mag to a large local audience and live stream to a worldwide audience,” Carver says, crediting the Bandit team for also overcoming challenges posed by weather.

“Crew chief Chris Noll, Mark Scherer and Darryl Newcombe got the system hung and placed and kept the system running through weather challenges, delivering a 100 percent package every show day,” Carver says. Along with special kudos to Petrus and his son Luke, Carver also thanked gaffer George (Buddy) Lunn “for doing a tremendous job overseeing install and daily execution of the show cues and production’s needs.”

Opening the doors to the production

‡‡         The Video Complement

In addition to a large video wall and camera package provided by Screenworks, Andy Gerber, who served as the video production company’s project manager for Camporee, told of the absolutely welcoming atmosphere of the festival. “Behind this beautiful rocky scenery, we hung a 60-foot-wide by 26-foot-high 7mm upstage LED screen that was used to change locales and backgrounds throughout the progression of the five nights of the Story of David.” Gerber says. “During each of the transitions, you could hear the audible excitement from the audience of almost 60,000 this year, and it was such an inviting atmosphere, even for production personnel. You could just tell the energy was different — it was an atmosphere of community.

“We had a production trailer onsite, and we ran a system of 11 HD cameras through our center,” Gerber adds. “We also had two I-Mag screens on either side of the stage, 28 feet wide by 16 feet high, as well as three delay screens the same size, giving those in the rear a great picture of the action. The backgrounds were just massive and effective, they really worked well on our wall with the scenery and lighting.”

Video content was being run through a disguise media server, supplying the backgrounds and I-Mag screens with content and managing processing for the video surfaces.

McGuire Scenic built all the foam core scenic pieces

‡‡         Setting the Stage

The scenic design created by Hotopp’s Carrie Sefcik was built, transported, and installed by McGuire Scenic. Don McGuire’s shop is no stranger to large production builds (McGuire Scenic does a lot of NFL and corporate events), and Don says this one was a joy. “We were glad to be involved this year on the Camporee festival — it was great working with Hotopp on the production, and we had a lot of fun creating this masterpiece for the Camporee team,” says McGuire. “It’s truly one of the cleanest load-ins we do, and we hung about 17,000 pounds off of Mountain Staging’s roof with zero issues.” McGuire Scenic has been building and fabricating scenic work and other production related builds for just shy of 25 years.

At sundown the lights colored the set

‡‡         A Clean Exit

With 55,000-plus people in Oshkosh, I asked everyone I spoke with the same question for this story: How clean was the site upon conclusion? Seeing load-out and post-show photos from major festivals is definitely stomach turning and disappointingly filthy; and we as concertgoers should do our part to leave the sites we enjoy clean when we leave. The Camporee staff had a dedicated volunteer army of people picking up anything left over at the festival, and festivalgoers were highly encouraged to police their own trash. That outlines the major point of this festival, in my opinion — where other festivals can be an experience and enjoyment for one’s self, the festivals like Camporee foster a sense of community, and awareness for that community. “Not having to load out through two feet of trash was outstanding,” Gerber laughs.

 

2019 International Pathfinder Camporee

Crew

  • Lighting Designer: Mark Carver
  • Lighting Co: Bandit Lites
  • Bandit Lites Rep: Michael Golden
  • Lighting Director: Luke Carver
  • Lighting Director/Programmer: André Petrus
  • Model Design Engineer: Mat Geasey
  • Onsite Previz: Clear All Visuals
  • Bandit Lites Crew: Chris Noll (Crew Chief), Mark Scherer, Darryl Newcombe
  • Gaffer: George “Buddy” Lunn
  • Video Co: Screenworks/NEP
  • Screenworks Project Manager: Andy Gerber
  • Screenworks Tech Manager: Jason Greene
  • Video Director: Brad Jones
  • Video Engineer: Kibru Senbetta
  • disguise Operator: Jeremy Clevenger
  • LED Techs: Eric Gerber, Mike Wilson, Ryan Edmundson
  • Camera Operators: Nate Brister, Adrian Brister, Gil Martin, Scott Lootens
  • Jib Operator: Scot Brown
  • Scenic Design: Hotopp and Associates/Carrie Sefcik
  • Set Construction: McGuire Scenic/Don McGuire
  • Production/Event Management: SBHH
  • SBHH Project Manager: Rachel Quan
  • Production Manager: John Monroe
  • Operations Manager: Mark Jordan
  • Site Manager: Hubert Gerstnecker
  • Production Office Coordinator: Laura Smith
  • Production Assistants: Kali Moxley, Kelly Jazwa, Jenny Whiteman, Colleen O’Mara

 

Gear

Lighting:

  • 2       grandMA2 Full consoles
  • 54     Claypaky B-Eye K20’s
  • 24     HES SolaFrame 3000’s
  • 30     Martin MAC Viper AirFX
  • 20     Martin MAC Aura
  • 18     Vari-Lite VL3500 Spot
  • 18     Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash
  • 30     GLP X4S fixtures
  • 30     Elation SixPar 100’s
  • 30     Elation Paladins
  • 12     Chroma-Q Color Force 48’s
  • 64     GRNLite Washes
  • 4       Base Haze Touring units
  • 6       Lycian 1295 Followspots
  • 44     Tyler Truss sections

 

Video:

  • 1       60’ wide by 26’ high ROE MC-7H LED Upstage screen
  • 5       28’ wide by 16’ high ROE MC-7H LED I-Mag screens
  • 2       disguise media servers
  • 2       NovaStar MCT RL 4K LED processors
  • 4       NovaStar 4KS LED processors
  • 6       Panasonic HE 130 PTZ cameras
  • 13     Ki Pro record decks
  • 1       Ross Carbonite 2ME video switcher
  • 12     stage/backstage monitors
  • 5       Sony HXC cameras with SMPTE fiber
  • 2       Canon 72x long lenses
  • 2       Canon 95x long lenses
  • 1       30’ Jib with wide angle lens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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