The Thinking Atheist Supports Camp Quest - Join Him!

Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist, just released a new podcast episode that shares some intense stories of experiences people had going to Christian summer camps as children. He contrasts these experiences of indoctrination with what we do at Camp Quest. 

Seth has also made an amazing video about what we do at Camp Quest!

Thinking Atheist Video

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Day in the Life of a Counselor

Counselor with campersEver wondered what life is like as a counselor for Camp Quest? Interested in volunteering, but have no idea what to expect? Here's a day in the life of a Camp Quest volunteer counselor. Sound fun? Let us know that you are interested in volunteering and plan to have your own week of fun, friends, and freethought! And don't forget to check out other volunteers reasons that they love Camp Quest at #WhyWeCQ

 

Sunday, Noon – Sitting down to lunch with the rest of the staff for our last meal before the campers arrive. Most of us got to camp yesterday afternoon and since then we’ve set up camp, completed training and orientation, and ran through most of the morning programs. I generally feel fairly well prepared, but I’m still a bit nervous.

12:59 PM – We’re all set up for registration and the Camp Director has given the word to open up the front gates. About a dozen cars are already lined up and waiting to drop off eager campers. I’m a Cabin Counselor, so my co-counselor and I are waiting near the registration table for our first campers. Once our first two campers arrive, one of us will take them to the cabin. After that, the two of us will trade off shuttling campers from registration to the cabin which will be our home for the next week.

3:57 PM – Our final camper has arrived, and we’re heading to the Camp Intro event to meet up with the rest of the campers and counselors. The Camp Director will review the rules and some of the other things to expect at camp this week. All of the other counselors and I introduce ourselves. Each cabin does their cabin cheer, although ours doesn’t quite go off as planned and the campers giggled through most of it. We wrap up with a couple of games to get to know the campers from other cabins and then we get ready for dinner.

5:30 PM – We sit down at the tables and the kitchen staff explain the dietary options available as well as the procedure for clearing the tables after the meal. One of the counselors who has been here before gets up and leads the whole room in a silly song about baby sharks. 

Playing games

8:32 PM – After an all camp activity, we all meet back up at the evening campfire. I’ve volunteered to get up and lead the group in one of my favorite camp songs with the assistance of a couple of the Leaders in Training (teen campers preparing to be counselors). A few of the counselors also treat us to a series of skits to illustrate some of the camp rules that we had gone over earlier during the Camp Intro.

9:33 PM – Just as dusk is settling in we are dismissed from the campfire back to our cabins. I’ll go back to my cabin to help the campers get their teeth brushed and ready for bed. Man I'm wiped out, but I've had so much fun and it's only been the first day!  

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Book Review: After the Gold Rush

After the Gold RushAfter the Gold Rush is a fun, new comic, written and created by Miles Greb with Isaac La Russa (DeviantArt) as the lead/concept artist. Various other talented folks collaborated on the making of this piece by pulling together their strengths to make this comic something unique. Recommended for anyone and everyone. 


From its conception, to the Kickstarter campaign that funded its making, After the Gold Rush has been a comic unlike other comics. With his refreshing honesty, Miles Greb weaves a story with a strong female protagonist highlighting science, atheism, skepticism, and the beauty of being wrong.

Taking place over 25 issues, After the Gold Rush tells the tale of Scout, the Titan-born young girl who returns to Earth—her ancestral home—for the first time. Once science ruled the Earth, but the Earth has long since forsaken science. After the Gold Rush follows Scout on her journey on Earth, as she tries to make sense of a world that no longer uses science.  Scout works to re-establish an understanding of what science is and why it is important. 

The hope, goal and dream of the tale that Greb has spun is that it will help to create a more positive and accurate representation of atheism and skepticism.

Non-comic readers need not be turned away by the word “comic”. With its bright colors, captivating, crisp illustrations and witty narrative, After the Gold Rush is sure to enchant a wide audience.

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Migratory Birds

DucksImagine having to follow the warm weather south because you don’t have a jacket or a heated home. In North America, thousands of species of birds, insects, mammals, fish, marine mammals, reptiles, and sharks migrate hundreds to thousands of miles, following the seasons to better feeding grounds and warmer temperatures.

Migratory birds are starting to reappear in their summer homes, including your backyard. Check out eNature to see who to expect and where they spent the winter. North America is home to both the shortest and longest bird migrations: the blue grouse moves only 1,000 feet down a mountain in the winter, but the arctic tern flies across the entire world between the arctic and antarctic!

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Feel the Force

Since 1977 millions of people have learned about the Force from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. In that galaxy far, far away, “The Force what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” There are two sides to the Force, the light side and the dark side. The interaction between these Forces is the focus of the Star Wars movies.

 

So what is a force in our galaxy?

A force is an influence that changes the motion of the object. If you push on something, it moves: you're exerting a force on it. This is deceptively simple, as most of physics is the study of all the different types of forces and how they interact with matter. Isaac Newton was one of the first people to describe motion and forces. Our understanding of physics still uses his three laws, over 350 years later.

We can’t see a force itself, but we can see the effect of it. You know this from gravity: there’s nothing visible holding you to the earth but you can easily see gravity’s effects when you drop your phone. Electromagnetism is another invisible force we use every day in electronics, motors, and more. » Read more

Book Review: What If I'm an Atheist?

What If I’m an Atheist? A Teen’s Guide to Exploring a Life Without Religion by David Seidman is an excellent resource for pre-teens and teens, or even the philosophical youngster, who find themselves questioning religion and/or the existence of God. This guide will help young people explore, navigate, and develop their own worldviews, providing a non-judgmental, safe place for the non-religious and religious alike to ask questions and delve into what they do and do not believe.

 

In a society and world where it is considered “the norm”—and dare I say the “right” way of living—to be part of some kind of religion, what does one do when they do not feel they belong in a religious group? What if one finds themselves questioning and/or doubting the existence of God and/or an afterlife? What if one is pondering all of these things while still living in a religious household with parents who will likely frown upon (at the very least) their child’s lack of belief? What If I’m an Atheist is a thorough source that comprehensively explores a myriad of questions and challenges an unbeliever and/or believer-turning-unbeliever may face.

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Holidays and Food

FeastThink about your favorite family traditions and holidays. What makes them special? Aside from the people and the seasonal fun activities, food is probably a big part of them. It’s a big part of Camp Quest traditions too: we love s’mores around the campfire! 

When baking or cooking, we usually follow a recipe that a family member gave us or that we found on a cooking blog. These recipes are often based on techniques and ingredient combinations discovered by cultures over thousands of years. People discovered how to make cheese at least 7,500 years ago (older than writing!), but they probably didn’t do so using the scientific method and certainly didn’t understand the chemistry and microbiology of cheesemaking. 

Today, food scientists use chemistry, biology, engineering, botany, and more to make food safe, nutritious, delicious, affordable, and abundant. Food scientists know exactly what each ingredient contributes to the texture, nutrition, flavor, and shelf life of a product, as well as how to scale production up from a small lab to a huge factory that makes thousands of identical cookies per minute. 

The nutrition we get from food comes from macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, water) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts found in some foods, like yogurt, that live in your intestines and help you digest food (read on to learn how to get to know your own microbiota!). Food can also contain additives like colorings, caffeine, and preservatives. Recipes involve acids, bases, liquids, rising agents, etc...it’s amazing ancient peoples let alone modern food scientists can understand everything that’s happening in your seemingly simple loaf of bread!  » Read more

Book Review: Pay It Forward

Pay It ForwardPay It Forward is written by Catherine Ryan Hyde and has a recommended reading level of grades 3 - 7. This story reflects how easy kindness comes to children and how by keeping our eyes open daily to those around us, we can touch their lives with kindness, even in small ways.


“I'll pay you back.” This is something likely all of us have said to someone or have had someone say to us after a favor or a kind act. But what if, instead of paying it back, we began to pay it forward

When his teacher gave the class the extra credit assignment: “Think of an idea for world change and put it into action," Trevor's idea was simple: perform an act of kindness for three strangers and request that they “pay it forward” by performing an act of kindness for three other strangers, and so on, thus creating a rippling effect throughout the community.

His concept seems straightforward and in a child's mind, it is. Adults, however, have a different understanding of the world—one that is sometimes cynical due to past experience with selfishness or dishonesty from others. This book emphasizes that although others' actions are not something we can control, we can control our own. We can choose to do good and be kind to others around us, regardless of whether or not they choose to do the same.

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Five Great Videos from the Ethics Video Library

DogHave you checked out the Ethics Video Library yet? Camp Quest is building an online resource for humanist teachers and parents to watch and discuss videos taken from all over the internet. Click the link to take a look!

To give you a taste of the over 270 videos over 14 different categories that we already have logged in the Library, here are 5 that we really enjoy.

Are Animals Empathetic?

As an educational resource aimed mostly at secular humanist parents and teachers, we’ve already included several that help explain our continuity with the rest of the animal kingdom.  Some focus more on the science, but this one is great because it shows that continuity.  The video covers story of Koko, the gorilla who knows sign language, and then recent research that shows that bonobos exhibit “emotional contagion.”

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Hydrogen Cars: The Future is Now!

Camp Quest CarThe long-awaited “Back to the Future Day” turned out to be more exciting than anyone could have imagined: Toyota released the first hydrogen fuel cell car! And at 2am on October 21st 2015, a Camp Quest volunteer became the very first person ever to own one! Congrats to Neil Polzin, the Vice Chair of Camp Quest, Camp Director at Camp Quest West, and new Mirai owner. Check out that Camp Quest sticker! Also for more fun check out the activities at the end of this article for more science fun!

The Back to the Future movie trilogy came out in the 1980s and showed what life would be like 30 years from then, in 2015. Well, we don’t have flying cars, Mr. Fusion personal power plants, or hoverboards...but we do have some pretty amazing technologies that no one predicted. Your phone has way more computing power than the car-sized computers NASA used to land on the moon!

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