Thursday, February 14, 2008

Camp Quest

Part of the struggle with this disease is giving my kids places and activities where they can blow off steam, be "normal", and enjoy their childhood despite the limitations my health puts on their experiences. My blogger friend, Calludus, from Fresno, suggested Camp Quest. I'm so glad that he did. The program looks amazing! And, the facilities are in a beautiful part of California gold country. When we discussed this with the kids, P1 started to glow with excitement! The Camp's purpose statements tell you all you need to know...

Camp Quest Purpose
*Promote among the youth participants a sense of belonging to a large freethought community.
*Encourage critical thinking to enable the young people to draw their own conclusions based on good evidence.
*Promote respect for others even though they may have different viewpoints, values, and beliefs.
*Provide a safe and fun environment for personal and social development.

I think this will be a great opportunity for any humanist/atheist/freethinking child. P1 said it best: "It will be fun to be around people who are as interested in science and humanism as I am." She is going to use part of her birthday money to fund the camp tuition.
As atheists and humanists and science-minded folk, we need camps like this to give our children an opportunity to develop relationships and friendships and connections with other humanists. There's that old saying that atheists are like cats - independent and not inclined to group-up. But, for our children, I think we need to give them that sense of community. I think this camp will set a precedent for our young atheists/humanists/freethinkers to feel less isolated and anomolous. I suspect they will carry that sense of fellowship and confidence far into their adulthood. And, it looks like the kids will have a ton of fun. :)

So...go take a gander.


shaun said...

I love the thought of sending my kids to Camp Quest. I hope it's still around when they're old enough! And to think that it actually started here in little ol' Ohio!

Calladus said...

Yay! Camp!

When I was young (and religious) I went to summer camp run by a very liberal church - every year for 4 years in a row.

We had a river with a neat spot to swim in, a swimming pool, lots of neat activities, and a surprisingly small amount of "spiritual" activities (except for the songs - lots of singing Christian songs.)

I made life-long friends from that (some of whom are now Agnostic or out of the church).

Now that I'm Atheist, I look back and wonder how much better it could have been with a camp based on science. Fossil hunting? Experiments? Physics demonstrations? I dunno what Quest will bring up.

I hope that P1 would be kind enough to write about her experience afterwards.

James said...

I just sent an email to director of the camp, volunteering myself this summer. Since I didn't get to go to anything this cool as a kid, I may as well live vicariously through the kids by being a counselor for them. And the theme of the upcoming camp is 'evolution'. I love teaching kids about evolution!

Steve said...

I hope they have a good time.

Chris said...

I'm really happy to hear the possums will have the chance to attend Camp Quest. I heard about it not too long ago and wish I was able to go as a kid.

Instead, my mom enrolled me into one of those fundy camps a bit less fundy than the one in Jesus Camp. We (me and the other few hundred kids) did have an adventure and action packed schedule, though... Let's see...we woke up early, then went to breakfast. After that, it was morning church. Then we...did nothing for a few hours until lunch, then afternoon church. A few more hours of nothing, then dinner, evening church and then the snack bar opened where we could buy overpriced candy before going to bed an hour or so later. Each church service was at least an hour long. On our offtime we were only allowed to hang out in the empty field, the empty paved lot, the walkway inbetween those 2 areas or sit on the porch of the church which was the only area with shade (a nice thing to have in the 90 - 100+ temps). Any of the buildings were off limits, our cabins (and the entire area they were built in) were off limits and the hiking trails were always off limits. This was before laptops and mp3 players, so I guess we could have read books, but the problem with that was after church we weren't allowed back in our bunks to get them...and we could only bring our bibles to church. We did have access to a fooseball table and air hockey table, but the balls and pucks were always under lock and key. Once in a while in our free times the camp would come up with an activity, ie maybe they'd set up the volleyball net, or they'd let us swim in the creek a few yards outside our "do not go" area (I think we did that 2 times in the 3 or 4 years I attended).

So yeah, Camp Quest sounded wonderful when I heard about it. I'm really glad they'll be able to go, and maybe we'll get a review after it's over? :D

aimee said...

I believe at this time, they are accepting essays (it's on their site) this summer to go tuition free.

fsmismyhero said...

When I first heard about Camp Quest I was soo jealous that I didn't have this opportunity when I was a child. I hope she has a blast. It's going to beat the hell out of Vacation Bible School!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure P1 will have much to say when she's back. She's so excited about it!! P2 isn't going because he's figured out that camps aren't his thing. He was pretty miserable the summer we sent the kids to Camp Whittier. So, to each his own, he wants to hang out here and see about volunteering at the natural history museum (or so he says).

Country Wife said...

@ Chris,
I think I went to the same church camp! Or are they all alike? Sheesh what a miserable experience that was!

PM, I'm off to check out the link you posted. Little Sis woud love love love some place like that.

Chris said...

country wife: My sister goes to a different one. From what I can tell, it doesn't seem that much different than the one I went to. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a lot of camps around the country like this, where all they care about is getting a bunch of kids full attention and then subject them to bible study all day. Parents don't mind, of course, since they're cheap and get the kid out of the house for a week. Plus, it's a church camp, it's got to be wholesome fun, right? (/sarcasm)

Just in case, though...mine was right along the Oregon / Washington border, on the WA side, a few hours east of Vancouver. There was a huge circus tent in the middle. And yes...very miserable

aimee said...

We all know that P1 would be able to write a kick-ass essay. It's worth a shot, then she wouldn't have to use part of her birthday money.

This year, for the first time, Camp Quest West is thrilled to announce an essay contest for middle school students. The author of the winning essay will win a free campership at Camp Quest West 2008!

The Contest

Write a short essay (between 200 and 400 words) about any one of the following questions and you could win a campership at Camp Quest West.

Should Intelligent Design be taught in school along with evolution? Why or why not?

What, if anything, does evolution tell us about the interconnectedness of life and how we should treat each other?

Is science the only way of knowing about the universe, or are there other ways of knowing? Explain.
Who is Eligible?

Middle school students (grades 6-8) residing in the Western United States - California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Application Form

The application form is available here as a Word document. All entries must include an application signed by the student and his or her parent or guardian. Contest entries can be mailed to: Camp Quest West, 50 W. Edith Ave #2, Los Altos, CA 94022, or faxed to 1-866-896-5217.

Prize Information and Rules

The student who submits the best original essay as judged by the Camp Quest West Campership Committee wins a full campership valued at $390. Essay must be entirely the work of the student submitting the essay, with the exception of attributed quotations. Any work that does not meet these requirements will be disqualified from the contest.

Deadline to submit essays is March 15 (postmarked). One prize will be awarded. Transportation to and from the camp is not included. Winning student must have his/her parents’ or guardians’ permission to attend the camp.

Calladus said...

Wow, Chris & Country Wife - the camp you went to doesn't sound anything like the Church Camp I went to!

We actually learned things. I learned how to build and print silk-screened images on T-shirts. I even silk-screened my blue-jean jacket.

We had elaborate games, many different activities, and just enough time to take time out to make friends and have deep conversation.

Of course, that Church Camp went out of business. (sigh)

Kate said...

My son went to CampQuest Ohio last summer, and plans to go again this year. He still talks with some friends he made (including one from England) and had the BEST time.

A great experience...he's still trying to figure out how to prove the existence of that invisible unicorn. (the IPU) The whole concept has really sharpened his critical thinking skills plus he had a great time...the kids went up in a little 6 seat plane and checked out their camp from above...all in all, a valuable and fun experience for him. And, he came back with a T-shirt, which he wears proudly at least 2 days a week, and a girlfriend....

Your kids will love it, P-momma!

Lev P. said...

My T1 has attended CQ 3 times (twice in Ohio and once in Ontario, Canada), and T2 was just old enough last year, so she went to CQ Ontario as well.
They even got their $0.02 in a CBC documentary (on moral life without god)!

CQ Ohio starts a bit too early for our school calendar, and the ones west of that are a bit too far to get to. So for us, CQ Ontario choice was a result of natural selection...

Speaking of media, "atheist camp" is "controversial" enough to get plenty of media attention. Among others, there was NYT article a couple of years ago, which mentioned my name (I was one of the parents interviewed when I dropped T1 off at CQ Ohio). I was like "Yea! I am in New York -freaking- Times!” CQ Ohio site has a link to this article somewhere.

So I can say that I am perhaps even more excited about CQ that T1 and T2!

But for them, even if they wouldn't talk about that, CQ week is very important as it validates their [establishing] worldview and confirms that their secular humanist parents are not crazy Satanists.

In summary, "CQ: Kids tested, parents approved"!

Paul said...

[silentsanta, nz]

Off topic: Hey PMomma - jus thought I'd let you know your link in the sidebar, to Eight-hour lunch is incorrect. It seems to be:
instead of:

waybeyondsoccermom said...

My children attended Camp Quest West last year and had a great time. The counselors were fantastic, the food was great, and my kids were glad they were there. They went to a Camp Quest the year before in the Smoky Mountains. Your daughter will have a great time. Chris runs a wonderful program.

Country Wife said...

@ calladus and Chris
I don't know where this camp was. I remember a looooong bus ride, but I think it was somewhere in VA.

It was just like Chris said, though. Up at the crack of dawn for a quick breakfast, then church, lunch, then more church, dinner, then more church. We were lucky if we got to bed before midnight, then up again at 5 a.m.

We got in trouble if we fell asleep in church. The kept the church auditorium ice cold, and when we complained, said we should sit up front 'where the fire was' (meaning closer to the pulpit).

The whole thing was like brainwashing camp. Girls even sewed up the slits in the side of their dresses between services (those little slits that make it easier to walk without the dress climbing up your legs).

Timm said...

When I saw your post, I looked up Camp Quest again. Nice that they have the family camp out option since it is a 13 hour drive from Seattle to get to the camp. Spouse thinks we should wait until next year when Dangerboy is fully 8 and can stay on his own. This will work out since we can then stay at the nearby state park with our pooches. Not sure if they allow animals in the non camper portion of the camp. I am kind of sad. I went to CYO camp once when I was a kid and our counselors tent burned down while we were away on a day trip. Awful.