Summer Camp Memories…And A Challenge

07 May

Some of my happiest childhood memories involve summer camps. Camp was the place where I made friends with kids from other places, went swimming every afternoon, bought candy at the camp store every day, learned goofy songs, performed silly skits by the campfire, and learned to appreciate the natural world. When I was a teen, camp was all of those things, plus smoking contraband cigarettes (or joints) behind the cabins, making out with guys in the woods…I’ll leave it at that.

The downside to my camp experiences was that they were saturated with god-talk. Campers, counselors and other staff members were obligated to sing grace at every meal:

We thank you, Lord, for the world so sweet;
We thank you, Lord, for the food we eat.
We thank you, Lord, for the birds that sing,
We thank you, Lord, for everything.

We attended daily Bible lessons, held cabin devotions every night and attended full-blown church services on Sunday mornings. Camp in my childhood was designed to be a godly affair.

Not all children’s camps are venues of intense indoctrination. A coalition of secularists has organized a camping network called Camp Quest.

The purpose of Camp Quest is to provide children of freethinking parents a residential summer camp dedicated to improving the human condition through rational inquiry, critical and creative thinking, scientific method, self-respect, ethics, competency, democracy, free speech, and the separation of religion and government.

By now, you’re probably saying things like, “Cool!” Or, “I wish I’d had that when I was a kid.” And even, “How can I help?” I’ve got the answer to that question. You can help by donating to Camp Quest via this link. Several atheist bloggers are having a friendly competition to raise money for Camp Quest. PZ Meyers is one team. He and his supporters have already raised more than $5,000.00. The other team is an informal association of bloggers – Greta Christina, Hemant, the Friendly Atheist, Jen at Blag Hag, JT Eberhard, Adam Lee. And me.

I’m honored to have been invited to join Team Underdog Awesome in its two-fold challenge to

a) beat PZ Meyers’ ass and force him to shave his beard, and
b) raise money for a great cause.

I can’t wait to see what PZ’s hiding under all that hair. And I want to help rationalist families. If you want to help too, all you have to do is click here. It’s a great way to start the summer.

— the chaplain

UPDATE! Digital Cuttlefish, master poet of nonbelief, has joined our team! Yea, Team Underdog Awesome!


8 responses to “Summer Camp Memories…And A Challenge

  1. Ebonmuse

    May 7, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Great to have you on the team! Now let’s teacg that squid-lover a lesson he won’t soon forget. :)

  2. Sarge

    May 8, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I never wanted to go to church camp, but as a Southern Baptist, in my teen years, I was urged to attend Eagle Aerie.

    I said I didn’t want to go, there was an arguement, the close of which was:
    Me- “Give me one good reason why I shoulg go”!
    Dad- “If ya don’t, I’ll KILL ya”!

    I says to myself, “Self, that’s a damn good reason”!
    And I went.

    For me it was actually pretty good, they had horses that year and the people who were supposed to take care of them knew nothing about them and had actually colllicked one. I suggested corrections, they got mad and left, and I wound up with the horses since I trained and rode at home.

    I had “too much to do” to have to do the religious idiocy, so I had a pretty good time. Did some of what you discribed (no weed, though, and no smoking AT ALL in the stable)
    The adults refered to the stable and tack rook as “The Den of Iniquity”.

    Next year there was another confrontation about SB camp, and I wanted to go and Dad said “no”.

    Me- “Why NOT”??!!
    Dad- “You’re too anxious”.

    Say this, Dad had great instincts and that judgement call (as a father I know) was a good one. Anyway, they didn’t have horses that year so I probably wouldn’t have liked it.

    I saw a church sign you might like to add to your collection.

    “Jesus Is Alive”!
    “And He Wants To Live Inside of You”!

    Jesus is a bot fly larva? A filaria? A nematode or tapeworm?
    Who knew?

  3. Lorena

    May 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Unfortunately, I’m unable to help financially at this tim. But thank you for posting. It sounds like you were a “normal” kid. That explains why you’re such a well-adjusted adult.

    I never did any of the things you did. And while it is sad, it also helps me understand why I am such a maladjusted adult. I am working on accepting that and living with it, though. So, I’m OK.

  4. the chaplain

    May 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I’m thrilled to be participating in this! Go, team!

    That Jesus sign is actually pretty truthful, in a bizarre way. Theism is, among other things, parasitic.

    It’s too bad you missed summer camp and lots of other “normal” childhood experiences. Notwithstanding all the god-business, camp was a lot of fun. My good memories of it outweigh the bad ones by far.

  5. desertscope

    May 9, 2011 at 12:51 am

    As a poor kid in Arkansas, I was always under the impression that Summer Camp only existed in the movies. We did have Vacation Bible School which, I’m sure, was almost as much fun. Campfires and horses, or pizza-and-grape juice communion? It’s a tough choice…

  6. Ubi Dubium

    May 16, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Daughter #2 is registered! This will be her first sleep-away camp, so I hope she has a wonderful time.

    I do have a lot of fond memories of summer camp. Even though it was a religious camp, it was pretty “liberal religious”. Mostly it affected our choice of campfire songs and saying grace at meals. We still canoed, and cooked out, and did crafts and got bug bites and all the other usual camp stuff. I’m thrilled that I cam send at least one of my kids for the good stuff with all the religion removed.

    I went google earth the other day to look at that old camp from the air. There’s a housing development going in now, and a golf course where the beaver lodge used to be. Sigh.

  7. the chaplain

    May 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    I remember VBS. I hated it. IMO, camp was much more fun than VBS.

    Ubi Dubium:
    That’s cool that your daughter will be going to Camp Quest. I bet she’ll have a great time.


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