What is Camp Quest and why is it important?

Sarah Moglia and a toad at Camp Quest Michigan.

Camp Quest is a summer camp for “freethinking” children (or, more accurately, children of “freethinking” parents). Depending on where in the US you live, summer camps for children may be very secular, very religious, in betweeen, or more or less oriented towards science and technology vs. sports and so on and so forth. There is a lot of variation. Here in Minnestoa, the majority of camps (by count of camp and I’m guessing by count of “spots” at camp) are affiliated with a religion or have an explicitly religious mission. Having said that, the majority of those camps are linked to “The Y” which is probably the least religious of the religious organizations running camps here. But that is only from looking at the camp literature. I have no idea if within a camp that is not explicitly religiously affiliated there is an assumed internal undercurrent of religiosoity. There often is.

I’m reminded of a story told to me by an old friend. She went to camp for the first time when she was 12. On day one, the girls in her dorm got to know each other in part by exchanging information about what their religions were, and what churches they were members of. She remembers being baffled by this as she came from an entirely secular background. She told the other kids she did not have a religion.

That night she woke from a deep sleep in a state of panic. She had the sense that there was someone sitting on her chest trying to smother her. You may know about so-called “Old Hag Syndrome.” This was not that. She struggled and kicked and freed herself from beneath a pillow and cried out, and this brought people running. Someone turned on the lights.

A fellow camper was trying to smother her. A young Christian girl was trying to kill the demonically possessed atheist. What a way to go.

Anyway, Camp Quest is not like that. Camp quest is the only camp I know of that is explicitly secular. All the other camps are either explicitly religious or potentially kinda quasi religious, although there are a lot of name-brand camps (usually named after a shoe brand) that are very sports oriented. But given the degree of religious activity that happen in the locker room, I would not assume that those camps are secular either.

Anyway, my friend Sarah just spent a week at Camp Quest, and wrote up a blog post about it.

Well, I spent the last week at Camp Quest Michigan. What is CQ, you ask? Well, it’s an awesome summer camp for children of freethinking parents– no, this is not an atheist summer camp, just a camp where kids can learn about science, critical thinking skills, and also do all sorts of fun summer things, like swimming, rock climbing, horseback riding, etc.

Read her account, My Week at Camp Quest, here. If you are thinking of sending one or more of the little ones off to camp, consider Camp Quest, especailly if you are avoiding camp because everywhere you look, instead of some great nature and science studies and some challenging athletics, there’s…something else going on.

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5 thoughts on “What is Camp Quest and why is it important?

  1. As the parent of a Quester, I highly recommend this camp to kids and parents. My kid has gone as a camper twice and now is a counselor-in-training. There is a great deal of love and camaraderie at Camp Quest and along with that a great deal of SCIENCE! This year one of the projects was to dissect squid, squid who had signed releases to donate their bodies for research, of course.

  2. My daughter got to attend the first time ever Camp Quest South Carolina. She had a fantastic time. I however, missed her more than I thought I would. We did have a fantastic private facebook page and twitter feed with lots of photos posted regularly. (I don’t know how parents did it before the internet!)
    My daughter got to dissect owl pellets, the older campers got to do cow eyes.

  3. I worked at the YMCA Camp St. Croix.in Hudson WI. I never did make it to a flag raising, but religiosity was otherwise kept to a brief prayer before meals as far as I noticed.


  4. My three daughters just returned from Camp Quest West in Southern California. This is our third year with Camp Quest, after my eldest had a similar encounter like your daughter at a Girl Scout camp. She was continually pinched, punched, and harassed the entire time because she didn’t pray before meals. No adults helped. It was that experience that made me search out specifically secular camps. Camp Quest is incredible! I can send my kids there and know they are having a great time. They also have a high adult:kid ratio. Highly recommended!

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