First Secular Humanist Summer Camp A Rousing Success
by Vern Uchtman
Six months of dedication and hard work by members of the Free Inquiry Group, Inc.
(Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area), reached fruition in August when Camp Quest, the first
camp for children of secular humanist families, had a successful inauguration. Twenty
children between the ages of eight and twelve, from five states, arrived on August 11 at
the Bullittsburg (Kentucky) Camp and Retreat Center for a week of camping activities.
Camp Quest was envisioned as an alternative to scouting and religious camps, a camp
with the traditional camping activities but without the confining layers of religious
dogma. The objective was to provide a week of fun and exploration, emphasizing scientific
and secular understanding of the natural world. Along with nature hikes, a field trip to
an endangered wetland area, games, singing, arts and crafts, swimming, and camp fires,
workshops were conducted on entomology, lake ecology, photography, and astronomy.
But perhaps what set Camp Quest apart from most traditional camps were the open
discussions. Bullittsburg Camp, which was leased for the week, is a Baptist camp, complete
with religious symbols and Bible verses. While a bit unsettling at first, it provided an
excellent backdrop for discussions on secular humanism and what it is like to be a secular
humanist in a religious world. During the week, each cabin (4-6 children and an adult
counselor) was given a challenge (dealing with, for example, the nature of the world,
communities, beliefs and myths) to discuss and present to the Camp on the final evening.
These presentations were a highlight of the week.
Most satisfying for those of us who participated in Camp Quest was the opportunity to
provide for children an environment where they were free to talk about things in their own
words, things like god and atheism and humanism and nature and science. The members of FIG
and the staff who came from out-of town, all volunteering their time and talents to make
Camp Quest work, deserve hearty congratulations from the secular humanist community. A
special recognition goes to Edwin Kagin, who had the inspiration for this camp, thanks
also go to the Council for Secular Humanism and members of
the secular humanist community for financial support and to many, many humanist and
freethought organizations for encouragement and publicity.
The feedback from children and parents has been very positive and encouraging. Planning
is already underway for Camp Quest '97. For more information, contact Vern Uchtman,
Vern Uchtman is Registrar of Camp Quest.
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