Secular Camp featured on NPR (8/7/2008)

TOPIC: religion, summer camp

Not long ago I posted on Summer Camp, Hold The Religion — prompted by an AP article by Valerie Bauman on the secular summer camp called Camp Quest. Barbara Bradley Hagerty of NPR has just run a segment this afternoon (8/7/2008) on a similar camp called Camp Inquiry, described on the Camp inquiry website as "one of many educational initiatives offered by the Center for Inquiry," and the following mission statement:

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.

Hagerty's NPR segment is available at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93174374 and will be available shortly in audio. The segment/article is a bit condescending, but she was dealing with relatively young kids and the attention itself was generally positive. It will be interesting to see the listener/reader reactions.

Angie McQuaid (one of the camp counselors, pictured above) spoke well in the segment:

"It's a brain spa," says Angie McQuaig, one of the counselors. McQuaig is an elementary school administrator in Georgia.

"As an educator, I like to teach critical thinking at a deep and erudite level, because it's not embedded in the curriculum as much as I'd like to see," McQuaig says. "And this provides a place for kids to talk about deep questions that many into adulthood don't even consider and contemplate."

Are they trying to create little atheists?

"Absolutely not!" McQuaig says. "We want to create little thinkers. Little thinkers that explore their own capacity and the external world, with all of the tools of science and humanity. That's why we're here."

Of course, the participants in any such summer camp will be uniquely self- or parent-selected. But the critical point for me is the opportunity for such kids.

Go visit the Camp Inquiry website. It's good reading.


Bauman, Valerie (updated 5/28/2008). Atheist, agnostic families opt for own sleep-away camp. Accessed 8/7/2008 at web address: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2008-05-27-atheist-camp_N.htm.

Camp Inquiry website, accessed 8/7/2008 at web address: http://www.campinquiry.org/.

Camp Quest website, accessed 8/7/2008 at web address: http://camp-quest.org/.

Center for Inquiry website, accessed 8/7/2008 at web address: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/.

Craft, W. D. (5/27/2008). Summer camp, hold the religion. Available at web address: http://psychescientia.blogspot.com/2008/05/summer-camp-hold-religion.html.

Hagerty, Barbara Bradley (8/7/2008). Camp Offers Training Ground For Little Skeptics. Segment broadcast on All Things Considered, National Public Radio, with text (and related figures) available (8/7/2008) at web address: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93174374.