In 1927 a program for training the adult lay members of the church to minister to the youth of the church was officially approved. This program was named Master Comrade. The very first Master Comrade Investiture took place in 1931. Twenty years later, in 1951, the name was changed from Master Comrade to Master Guide.
Through the years several changes and modifications were made to the program. At one period in time the program was split into two tracks, Junior Youth and Senior Youth.
In 1989 a completely restructured program was introduced at the Friendship Camporee. The following is excerpted from the Pathfinder Leadership Awards Handbook which introduced the “new” Master Guide:
“The Master Guide Course has been structured as a natural flow from the Guide course and its content is such as would have appeal and interest to a 16 to 19 year old. It was felt that the Pathfinder organization would be failing if it did not promote a course that encouraged young people beyond the Pathfinder age to continue with the Club and become aware of the value of leadership skills.
Because of its closely connected work with Pathfinders, this class is seen as a transition between Pathfinder ministry and senior youth ministry. It is expected that those in the Master Guide program be active in church activities relating to Pathfinder age children.
As Senior Youth they find nurture and growth with other Senior Youth, but work with the Pathfinders. This course is viewed as the first award in youth leadership and not the ultimate award as the previous program bearing the same name would indicate.”
This “new” Master Guide was almost immediately and universally rejected by the constituents of the North American Division. It was rejected for the obvious reason that the word “MASTER” has real meaning. It means that the bearer of that label is a highly trained and experienced person, not a beginner. When one hears the term Master Mechanic he/she expects to have a trained and experienced person working on their car, not someone who is beginning to learn the trade.
When the North American Division Pathfinder Committee was formed in 1992 it was given a mandate to restore the “old” Master Guide program, updating and modernizing it in the process. The committee was instructed to make the program challenging, adult oriented and not restricted to the Pathfinder program but connected to all aspects of youth ministry in the church. The current Master Guide program (1994) and Master Guide Manual (1996) is the result. The current program is designed to provide thorough training of adults to minister to the youth of the church. The Master Guide program is not an advanced class level for the AY Guide class. When a person is invested as a Master Guide he/she will have completed at least one full year as a regular Adventurer or Pathfinder Club staff, he/she will have taught, on his/her own, at least two AY Honors or three Adventurer Awards, he/she will have a thorough knowledge of Adventist Heritage and beliefs, he/she will understand the age group to which he/she is ministering, and he/she will have training in communication and leadership skills. In other words, when a person is actually invested as a Master Guide he/she is to have the training and experience necessary to accept to the responsibilities of youth leadership. It is the top youth ministry award in the church. All other training programs are to enhance it and provide additional skills in particular areas.