Summer Camp

Might I suggest sending your children to Camp Inquiry:

This is a place where kids can be themselves. We work toward helping youth confront the challenges of living a non-theistic/secular lifestyle in a world dominated by religious belief and pseudoscience. Grounded on the conviction that kids can begin establishing habits of the good and ethical life early on, Camp Inquiry 2008 adopts a three-part focus: The arts and sciences, the skeptical perspective, and ethical character development comprise an integrated approach to this “Age of Discovery.” Campers, counselors, and teachers will address key issues around individual identity, forging trusting relationships, establishing a sense of local and global community, and living with respect for the natural world.

Sounds like a good idea to me. There was actually a story about this on All Things Considered yesterday. Very interesting. Imagine, kids actually being taught to think, question, and learn at camp rather than being taught to simply have faith that things are the way they are because it’s all part of the plan of an omnipotent being.

Of course, the downside to sending your kids here is that, chances are, they’ll never have a shot at becoming President of the United States.






34 replies
  1. 1
    Walker says:

    It is not like there aren’t a million science camps. I attended one for four summers in the 80s in the northeast coast of North Carolina. It was great; how many places can you learn about marine biology in the morning, and fish for crabs off a peer in the afternoon?

    This camp just sounds like it has a focus on some form of ideology as well. There is nothing about scientific inquiry that naturally gives rise to a code of ethics. Makes me a little wary. At least with a church camp, I have a vague notion of what their ideology is given the character of the denomination. How do I know what they are teaching the kids here?

  2. 2
    cmorenc says:

    how many places can you learn about marine biology in the morning, and [i]fish for crabs off a [b]peer[/p] [/i]in the afternoon?

    We’ve known for some time now from British tabloids that the British upper crust lead some randy lives, but really – as a camp activity, this one seems rather grossly unattractive.

  3. 3
    linda says:

    paul krugman has the best line of the day in discussing the republican allergy to thinking:

    “Real men don’t think things through.”

  4. 4
    wvng says:

    Michael, this is very cool. I especially like the focus on “helping youth confront the challenges of living a non-theistic/secular lifestyle in a world dominated by religious belief and pseudoscience.”

    At the end of the day, if they can just be taught the process of scientific thinking (a process that school rarely gets to because of the focus on cramming lotsa facts into their little brains) then they will be much better prepared to lead a substantive life.

    Years ago, my organization did month long science camps that focused on “science as inquiry” for kids who were having some difficulty in school.

  5. 5
    jake says:

    You know, I really don’t care what people believe so long as they don’t use said beliefs to fuck with me (or anyone else). Having attended a school that ran somewhat along the lines of CI it sounds like they took the language a Christian camp might use and substituted a few words. LOOK OUT! PEOPLE WILL MAKE YER KID WORSHIP SATAN STOOPID! GIVE US SOME MONEY QUICK!

    Shit, if you think your kids are getting a crap education, vote for a school board that isn’t populated by TalEvangicals and, I don’t know … talk to them?

  6. 6
    EarBucket says:

    I dunno. I like the idea of teaching kids about science as much as anyone, but I listened to the NPR piece about this camp, and the kids sounded every bit as ideological and indoctrinated as the ones at the Christian camp my parents sent me to every summer. Most of them just sounded like they were parroting what they’d been told by the adults at the camp.

    I love the idea of a camp where kids learn to think for themselves and draw rational conclusions about the universe. I just don’t think this place is it.

  7. 7
    TheFountainHead says:

    I have an idea. Don’t send your kids to camp. Send them to the National Parks. Provide them with all the gear they need for 3 weeks and send ’em to a different National Park each summer. I would bet my offspring they turn out just fine.

  8. 8
    myiq2xu says:

    Or you can let them become Obots and they can learn the new Obama salute

    http://www.usnews.com/blogs/wa.....alute.html

  9. 9
    Dave S. says:

    At least they’ll probably be spared from making “God’s eyes”…

  10. 10
    4tehlulz says:

    Learn how to be as big an ideological asshole as the theists.

  11. 11
    vishnu schizt says:

    Or you can let them become Obots and they can learn the new Obama salute

    or you can let them become bitter dead enders with pantsuit fetishes

  12. 12
    gil mann says:

    Boy, this place sounds like oodles of fun. Sorry, Jimmy, so swimming today, we’re playing Name That Logical Fallacy. Great way to give a kid a lifelong aversion to empiricism.

    You want your kid to grow into a freethinking adult, unencumbered by superstition and religiosity? Take the little bastard to church every Sunday, and don’t skimp on the CCD, y’all.

    I don’t know what it is about spawning that causes people to instantaneously forget everything about their own childhood, but rebellion’s a pretty significant ingredient for most people. The best thing my hardcore atheist dad ever did was keep his fucking mouth shut about it until I was done putting all my energy into not being him.

  13. 13
    zoe from pittsburgh says:

    I suppose no one here was raised in a non-religious/atheist family?

    Trust me, it sucks. Not the beliefs or the family itself but everyone else. I had friends who weren’t allowed to come over to my house because their Catholic parents knew that we never went to any church. I had teachers who singled me out because of it. Kids taunted me that I am going to hell. This wasn’t exactly the bible belt either, this was a small, working class neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

    I would have LOVED to have a camp like this to go to– for a week to be able know that everyone around me was a skeptic, to know that there are other families like mine. For kids who are raised in non-religious families knowing other kids who share their views is ESSENTIAL.

  14. 14
    zoe from pittsburgh says:

    Not everyone rebels so hard against their parents– that’s quite the American cultural phenomenon. I find it amusing how many Americans seem to think it’s universal that everyone angrily rebels against their parents.

    I didn’t rebel. I had a lot of questions, my parents were very invested in giving me thoughtful, respectful answers. I knew that they were atheists but they let me know that when I grew up it was my right to chose what I want to believe. They encouraged me to investigate, to question, to try and understand other people’s beliefs.

    I’m a lesbian atheist– I’d be more willing to tell a stranger that I’m gay than that I’m an atheist. It’s a far more upsetting and offensive idea to most people than being gay.

  15. 15
    Dug Jay says:

    Why is Tyler upset with Balloon Juice?

  16. 16
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    myiq2xu GoatBoy Says:

    I just thought I would drop by and let everyone know that I support McCain and I’m still blowing goats.

    In other words, nothing new?

    I’m a lesbian atheist—I’d be more willing to tell a stranger that I’m gay than that I’m an atheist. It’s a far more upsetting and offensive idea to most people than being gay.

    Well, I see nothing wrong with being a happy atheist. ;)

    I went to school in the 60’s and early 70’s, and religion was never an issue for myself or anyone else I knew in school. There were the kids who were religious, but there was never any animosity between them or anyone else that I ever heard of.

    I did go to a catholic school until third grade, but I quickly dropped that after my parents divorced. Even then, I was very non-religious. I always felt like an outsider looking in, even as an altar boy.

    I just never got into religion, or rather religion never got into me. ;)

    This camp sounds like good intentions, but we all know how those can go awry. Parents should instill these values, and most parents who would use a camp like this would be doing that anyway. To me, it seems that the right enjoys handing their kids off for ‘training’ more than the left does.

  17. 17
    zoe from pittsburgh says:

    You’re assuming that the parents are using the camp to indoctrinate their kids– if my parents had told me that a camp like this existed I would have BEGGED them to let me go.

  18. 18
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    You’re assuming that the parents are using the camp to indoctrinate their kids

    I’m not assuming anything of the sort, and I have no doubt that there are kids who would love to go to a place like this. I just think that it is a good idea that will not find wide acceptance, and all you would need is one scandal out of a camp like this for the right to point at it, scream and have their heads rotate on their shoulders.

    Never mind that that crap happens in their ‘camps’, that or their kids get beat or abused to death in these ‘camps’.

  19. 19
    Porco Rosso says:

    I heard the piece too, and new that I was going to be offended by it when I heard who the correspondent was. Duncan Black unearthed this quote of hers in 2004: “Early in my career at National Public Radio, I decided that being true to my God had to be the nonnegotiable. If it meant loosing my job, so be it. … In the long run I had to think, is a story or even is a career … more valuable than my relationship with God and eternal treasure in heaven? And I think the answer is no, and the decisions we make count for eternity.”

    Which explained why she had to ask her question–“hey kids, does it make you feel sad that I believe that I get to party in heaven with God, while you punks think you’re just wormfood?”

  20. 20
    gil mann says:

    Zoe–

    I had friends who weren’t allowed to come over to my house because their Catholic parents knew that we never went to any church.

    That does suck. I remember when I was 9 or 10 and my best friend’s weirdo born-again parents found out I wasn’t baptized; they asked my mom to come over so that they could talk to her about my eternal soul.

    It was a learning experience for all involved. I learned that certain people are insufferable buttinskis, my friend learned how to lie about where you’re going after school, and his parents learned that having God on your side won’t help you one bit if you piss off my mom.

    I find it amusing how many Americans seem to think it’s universal that everyone angrily rebels against their parents.

    Well, my intent wasn’t to speak for Scandinavians.

  21. 21
    cleek says:

    if i ever have kids, they’re going to Camp Inquisition, cause i won’t trust them – not one little bit – and i will demand to know their secrets.

  22. 22

    I had friends who weren’t allowed to come over to my house because their Catholic parents knew that we never went to any church.

    They sent their kids to Camp Inquisition. No kid expects Camp Inquisition!

  23. 23
    Zifnab says:

    What ever happened to Science Camp? I bugged my mom about going to Space Camp down in Florida every birthday for, like, five years running. We took vacations across the country roughly every summer or winter – Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Appalachians – and when I wanted to know why Old Faithful shot off every hour my dad got to give me a crash course in geophysics.

    You don’t need a special “Teach Kids to Think” camp in order to get kids to be inquisitive and skeptical. Just give them the basic education they will eventually need. The rest follows naturally.

    That said, I can definitely see why people would feel compelled to start a camp like this. You can only see so many Creationist Museums go up before you start building a backlash. And when adults are aggressively marketing bullshit at every avenue to your little young’ns, I can see how parents might feel afraid that their kids are going to run off and become Mormons if they don’t know any better.

    If you saw your entire country turning into some sort of rabid, brain-dead cult…

  24. 24
    TheFountainHead says:

    Or, on the other hand, just send your kids to Jesuit Schools. Nothing churns out more thinking atheists than the Jesuit Universities and High Schools. Nothing.

  25. 25
    The Moar You Know says:

    or you can let them become bitter dead enders with pantsuit fetishes

    Maximum win.

  26. 26
    Krista says:

    I wish they had a camp like this around here. I don’t have kids yet, but the day camp around here is…you guessed it…a bible camp. I can see it being tough when my kid wants to go to camp because all of his or her friends are going. Part of me thinks that there would be no harm in it, but then part of me would really rather have my kid learn about religion while I’m present to answer any questions or concerns they might have.

  27. 27
    Xenos says:

    My 10 year-old atheist son just had a great experience with a YMCA camp: religion as a matter of public piety and sentimentality, a way to articulate ethical living without dogma or the need to evangelize. Learned how to fake a sincere grace before meals like a pro.

    Next step: Episcopal seminary, so he can learn how to make a really outstanding martini.

    P.S. The server is dying here, guys. Anybody less poor than me who can kick in some shekels to keep the hamsters fed?

  28. 28
    Shouting at the Rain says:

    Dear Mom, I no longer fear Hell, because I’ve been to Kamp Krusty. Our nature hikes have become grim death marches. Our arts and crafts hut is, in truth, a Dickensian workhouse. Bart makes it through the day clinging to his hope that Krusty the Klown will come. But I am far more pessimistic. I am not even sure if this letter will reach you, as the normal lines of communication have been cut. So I close by saying, SAVE US! SAVE US NOW!

    It’s probably something along these lines…

  29. 29
    theturtlemoves says:

    Or you can let them become Obots and they can learn the new Obama salute

    What. The. Hell? Seriously, what the hell does this have to do with the topic at hand? Is there any topic that won’t drive this dipshit to yell about the CIA implants in his head? One of these days, we’re going to be treated to a 3000 word exposition on Obama’s ties to the Illuminati from our resident Dale Gribble.

  30. 30
    Brachiator says:

    Sounds like a good idea to me. There was actually a story about this on All Things Considered yesterday. Very interesting. Imagine, kids actually being taught to think, question, and learn at camp rather than being taught to simply have faith that things are the way they are because it’s all part of the plan of an omnipotent being.

    The mythbusters and magic tricks part of the camp sounds like fun. The ethics and character building side of the camp sounds like bullshit.

    Of course, the downside to sending your kids here is that, chances are, they’ll never have a shot at becoming President of the United States.

    That’s for true!

    zoe from pittsburgh Says:

    I suppose no one here was raised in a non-religious/atheist family?

    Me, thank God. The funny thing is that my mother would send me to vacation Bible school during the summer because they had fun activities, a safe environment, and cool food. And the religious stuff was kept lightweight, because the program had to be non-denominational. But I never felt particularly oppressed by the occasional Bible lesson I had to listen to.

    Otherwise, growing up, I had to contend with people who thought I must be from another planet because I did not believe in the baby Jesus and would make people’s heads explode when I said I don’t care when they asked “Don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?”

    I had teachers who singled me out because of it.

    This sounds terrible and terribly unfair.

  31. 31
    cmorenc says:

    I somehow survived many summers of vacation Bible school as a small kid. I even went to a Christian-influenced camp in Black Mountain, NC (Camp Rockmont) for a couple of summers back around 1960 or so where Billy Graham (before he became so famous) was close friends with the camp director, and spoke the camp convocation to us campers every summer. I somehow survived that too. BTW, there’s a certain irony that Camp Rockmont was the successor owner of the same property and buildings that was formerly the ultra-avant garde home-of-skeptical-thinking Black Mountain College. In other words, the perfect sort of place to have hosted a “Camp Inquiry”.

    I somehow survived the bullshit, and retained just enough of the positive part to become a sane adult with a healthy balance between trustful belief and skepticism, with intact well-working bullshit radar without becoming a bitter cynic about everything.

  32. 32
    Damien says:

    “This camp just sounds like it has a focus on some form of ideology as well. There is nothing about scientific inquiry that naturally gives rise to a code of ethics. Makes me a little wary. At least with a church camp, I have a vague notion of what their ideology is given the character of the denomination. How do I know what they are teaching the kids here?”

    You don’t know anything about The CFI, do you?

  33. 33
    MobiusKlein says:

    Can’t kids just have some summer camps where they roast a hot dog, get mud on their clothes, collect dead bugs and sing stupid camp songs?
    Gack – they are not your puppets, they are their own selves, get used to it!

  34. 34
    jbarntt says:

    Of course, the downside to sending your kids here is that, chances are, they’ll never have a shot at becoming President of the United States.

    Seems to me Obama’s doing OK.

    Grounded on the conviction that kids can begin establishing habits of the good and ethical life early on

    Pray tell, what are these grounds, given we are talking about atheists.

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