Report from Skepticon: CampQuest

I’m at Skepticon this weekend. It’s the nation’s largest free conference on skepticism, science, intersectionality, and atheism. It brings feminist-friendly atheism to Springfield, MO, one of the buckles of America’s broad Bible belt.

I love this conference. There are so many awesome people here talking about so many issues that are relevant to humanists, from socio-economic privilege to sexuality to Islam to secular community. There’s not a lot that is specific to parenting, but one workshop today was really relevant: CampQuest.

If you are in a secular family, and you find yourself feeling jealous when you see the other families around you send their kids to church camp, then CampQuest might be the answer for your family. CampQuest is a nationwide specifically-secular sleep-away camping opportunity for kids ages 8 and up. You can send your kids to these camps at various locations around the country to swim, hike, learn archery, learn about bugs, explore the Socratic method, and generally be comfortable in an environment without religious influence.

Cindy Cooper from CampQuest Oklahoma told us about their group – they rent space from a local CampFire campground for one week a year, and they are working on adding family camping, as well. According to Cooper, for many of the kids at camp, this is a home away from home. Here are some of the quotes she shared from the kids:

“I don’t feel along and I can be myself.”
“My one week sanctuary.”
“They don’t teach me what to think, but how to think.”

That last quote is an important one – CampQuest is a comfortable place for atheists, but it doesn’t push atheism. It teaches how to think critically in a safe space for everyone.

I would really like my kids to have this opportunity soon, and maybe our Navigators USA chapter will co-ordinate with them soon for the opportunity.

If you like this idea and want to help, Cooper specifically asked for volunteers (she said the counselors have all the fun), spreading the word, and donations to cover the cost for a camper to go.

BTW, I’m not the only member of the Skepchick network here – Surly Amy and Nicole Gigliucci are speaking, Deb Goddard is tabling for CFI, and Lauren Lane runs the whole shebang (with a group of awesome friends). So, if you want to meet us, coming to Springfield, MO next November would be a great way to do it (and maybe next year, Rebecca Watson herself will come back – she’s usually here).

And if you want to come to Skepticon but are worried about your kids – CampQuest provides childcare!

Featured Image credit: Todd VerBeek


Lance is the father of two boys, a software developer, and an occasional world traveler. Now an active member of the Ethical Society of St. Louis, he grew up in an Evangelical Lutheran home in which he took Christianity very seriously. Fortunately, going to college helped him break through to see that he believed because he thought he was supposed to, not because it makes sense. Now he's glad to be more than just a SIWOTI skeptic. @LMFinney

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