Every year parents send their children to camp. Many camps have a solid religious background. What about camps for non-religious families? Camp Quest was the first camp in the US for children of Atheists. The camp this year crosses the ocean to England.
The British version of the camp is founded by ex-University of York student Samantha Stein. Stein is modeling her program after Camp Quest which was started by Edwin and Helen Kagin in 1996. It now has five locations in the United States and one in Ontario, Canada.
The campers are required to sign a "Declaration of Religious Belief" when they attend the 5 day program.
Stein took the program to England after research showed her that there were no other camps geared to non-believers. This year's session will be from July 27th until July 31st in Bath.
Campers are not required to be atheists but parents should be aware that the camp adopts a critical, scientific approach as opposed to a “faith-based” approach. The theme of this year's camp is Evolution. During the mornings campers will explore many ideas including philosophy for Children, pseudoscience, astronomy, evolution, critical thinking, nature games and the famous Invisible Unicorns Challenge. Afternoons will be devoted to physical activities like archery, climbing and rafting.
The Yorker reports:
"We aren't about converting children or trying to tell them what is right or wrong, rather we seek to promote critical thinking, philosophy and science in the context of those without religious belief. Our aim is educational - we are not an indoctrination scheme trying to push some 'atheist agenda' to abolish all religion."
Stein added: "There are few social networks for the children of nonreligious parents, in the same way that children may make friends at church or Sunday school, and this is part of what that attempts to be: a way in which children can meet to discuss their ideas, have fun and know that they are not alone."
The camp's goal is to introduce children to "logical fallacies in a fun way".
Stein graduated from York last year with a degree in Psychology, and is currently pursuing a masters in Religion in Contemporary Society at Kings College London.
The Ontario program was founded in 1992 in Guelph. This year's session will take place in Waterloo July 19-25.