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Citizen Science

The typical stereotype of a scientist is an older man, wearing a white lab coat, puzzling over equations on a chalkboard, with a chemistry experiment giving off an oddly colored gas in the background. This stereotype could not be farther from the truth. Scientists span the gamut of humanity, they come from all races, genders, religions, sexual orientations, economic backgrounds, etc. Basically, scientists come from all walks of life. The one thing they all have in common is some sort of higher education.

But what if you don’t have a college degree and still want to participate in the furthering of scientific knowledge? The answer. Citizen Science.

Citizen science is defined as ‘a member of the general public who engages in scientific work, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions.’ These citizen science programs have really exploded in popularity over the past several years as the idea of ‘crowd sourcing’ has become popular. Probably the oldest, and most well known citizen science program is the Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count, which was first launched in 1988 and uses thousands of volunteers to count birds of different species they can identify to help determine species and ecosystem health.Kids discussing science

Other programs can range from counting and mapping the craters on the Moon and Mars or identifying never before seen asteroids with CosmoQuest, to joining one of the many projects found on SciStarter, to even just letting your computer crunch through data for Seti@Home as they hunt for intelligent extraterrestrial life. » Read more

Wedding Bells are Going to Chime!

This weekend Camp Quest is celebrating not one, but two amazing partnerships! We are so excited to celebrate with two of our board members and two of our volunteers this weekend. Caroline Martin and Dan Smucker are getting married today in Ohio.  Rachael and Tom Quisel are celebrating their commitment ceremony in California tomorrow. Both couples have asked for gifts from friends and family to be made to Camp Quest to celebrate!

Caroline and DanCaroline Martin, a Camp Quest national board member, says:

In 2011, Dan and I met volunteering for Camp Quest Ohio. As our relationship grew, so did our roles at camp. From counselors we grew into roles like Cabin Area Leaders, Camp Director, and Board Chair. We have supported each other through tough decisions, long board calls, and seemingly endless summer days. Camp Quest has shaped who we are; we have become not only partners in life, but in work. The growth and success of Camp Quest is so dear to us. We work throughout the year to create a place where both kids and adults can explore and create in a welcoming, warm environment. In celebration of our partnership, we ask you to help ensure Camp Quest’s future by making a donation in our honor.

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The Importance of Religious Literacy - Even for the Non-Religious

Girl speakingScience explains the world around us in a way we’ve never been able to before. So why study what uninformed people use to think? Or the harmful ideas religion has promoted? Plus, to be honest, a lot of religion is just boring, right?

I’ve heard – and said – all of these. And there’s certainly something to them. However, there are also a lot of good reasons we still need to make sure our kids at least have a basic understanding of religion.

Even non-believers have group biases, and learning about others helps us get along

This first reason is a really big one for me. For my masters dissertation I focused on religious identity formation and conflict, and for my research I interviewed Muslim and Christian teachers in post-war Bosnia. So what does it take? How do we avoid group conflict? Well, my own research obviously didn’t come up with any one answer, but teaching religion – and teaching it right – was at least part of it. Each school in Bosnia is split up by religion with government funded religious ‘instruction,’ i.e. Sunday school in the classroom. The result, unfortunately, is that each group only had uninformed caricatures of what others believed.  » Read more

What Camp Quest Means to Me: Liberty Bliss

Liberty Bliss has been going to Camp Quest since the first year of Camp Quest Chesapeake in 2011. She started as a CIT, and now coordinates the CIT program.

Liberty and frogs


Growing up, I was raised by a freethinking mother who started the first secular homeschooling group in our area. My mother taught me to think for myself and to be respectful of other people and their beliefs, and as a kid, that's how I expected everyone else to be. When I entered my teens, I discovered that this was not the case. My self identification as an atheist set me apart from the other kids, and not in a cute and quirky way.

Lacking a community on the ground, I turned to the online non-theist and skeptic communities as I tried to understand what being an atheist said about me. It was online that I found out about Camp Quest Chesapeake and excitedly sent it to my mother. Then 16 years old, I had never been to summer camp, but I was thrilled at the idea of spending time with likeminded kids my age.

I didn't know it until I got to camp, but as a sixteen year old I was classified as a Counselor-in-Training.  I was assigned to assist the counselors in the youngest girl's cabin. Had I known that, I Liberty teaching knotsmight have reconsidered attending camp. At 16, I was shy and not at all confident in my abilities. At the time, I thought, Who in their right mind would put me in charge of children? I just wanted to be a kid and not be judged for my lack of religious faith. » Read more

What Camp Quest Means to Me: Paul Chiariello

PaulPaul Chiariello loves board games, books, traveling, humanism, and ethics. He loves humanism and ethics so much in fact that he's the head of Camp Quest's HELP Curriculum (Humanistm, Ethic, Logic, Philosophy) and works on the Ethics Video Library, a video library that partners Camp Quest and American Ethical Union together to provide a wide range of videos for educators and parents for educational purposes. Paul is also one of out senior leaders at Camp Quest New England helping with planning and programming for our campers there. Hear what Paul has to say about his experiences with Camp Quest! 


Camp Quest means a lot of things to me.  It’s an amazing community of friends and mentors, a chance to get out into nature, and - for both better and worse - the most exhausting week of my year.  It’s also the place where I feel I really give back the most; where I’m doing some actual good in the world. 

Education has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember.  I’ve worked as an English and chess teacher, as well as with international policy and research concerning identity based conflict in education.  So I absolutely jumped at the chance to get involved with Camp Quest curriculum building.  Over my two years with CQ Chesapeake, and now for a year with the brand new CQ New England, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to help design and run fun, meaningful activities.  » Read more

Envision 2020: Help Camp Quest Double in 5 Years!

Camp Quest has 2020 Vision

Mia Envision 2020 Camp QuestThis year Camp Quest turns 20, and my how we've grown: from 20 campers in 1996 to more than 1,000 in 2014. But there is so much more we can do...

With your helpwe can double that impact in five years.

The Stiefel Freethought Foundation has awarded us a $50,000 matching grant that will double your gift.

Imagine more than 2,000 youth ages 8-17 participating in one of thirty five week-long sessions held only a car drive away from every major city in America. » Read more

What Camp Quest Means to Me: Janie Oyakawa

JanieJanie Oyakawa loves her big family. She and her husband have six kids, all whom attend Camp Quest Texas. Janie volunteers as a counselor for Camp Quest Texas and as the national LAUGH curriculum group leader (leadership, arts, unity, games, and health).

When Janie was a child she was Mormon and attended Mormon summer camp. Read on to hear more about her experiences from both inside and outside the church.  


I went to "Young Women's camp" every year that I was eligible for it in the Mormon Church. It starts when you are twelve. It is camp in the sense that you are in the woods in cabins and you do things like hike, but it is nothing like Boy Scout camp. The boys in the Mormon Church get scouts but the girls don't. The boys also get about three times the budget. They do things like rock climbing and knife sharpening. Girls hike and bear testimonies ad nauseum and talk about the joys of motherhood that await. College is strongly encouraged but only so that you have something "to fall back on" if something (god forbid) is to happen to your husband.

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What Camp Quest Means to Me: Holly O'Brien

Holly doing henna

Holly O'brien is your friendly neighborhood barista, keeping the masses caffinated with a smile. She lives with her partner, who is in school to become an ASL interpreter, and his mother and step-dad. Holly has goals of moving to Rochester, New York and getting 19 cats, all whom which she's already picked out names for.

Holly also loves Camp Quest, even though she's not into the idea of camping. In the past two years, Holly's moved from being a first time volunteer camp counselor, to being a board member and part of the planning committee. She wants to help spread the joy of Camp Quest wherever she goes. Hear how she got involved and why. 


 Ten years ago, one of the most important, life-changing events happened in my life: my family left Religion. I came from a Fundamentalist, Evangelical Christian background, and spent my entire childhood going to Church at least three days a week and attending a private Christian school. Every part of my daily life was completely immersed in indoctrination and religious dogma. At the time, I didn't necessarily see anything wrong with it. I was a kid who was mostly concerned with playing with my friends, acting as the classroom teacher to my stuffed animals and playing outside in my magical world of make-believe. I went along with the religion because it was the life my family was choosing to live. As I got older, I started to ask questions about and challenge what I was being told, instead of just accepting it as fact or truth. Needless to say, my questioning the indoctrination process was not well received by the Church. My mother, however, continued to encourage us to ask questions and think for ourselves. Then came the breaking point. » Read more

Raising (Actual) Freethinkers, a talk by Dale McGowan

Dale MoGowan is a secular parenting author, director of Foundation Beyond Belief, and parent to a Camp Quest camper. Dale also co-wrote a book called Raising Freethinkers with Amanda Metskas, Camp Quest's executive director. He has facilitated charitable giving by the secular community and helps parents with awesome advice for raising freethinking children. 

Last year at the Oklahoma Freethought Convention, FREEOK, Dale gave a great talk with a lot of advice on raising freethinking children. Check out his talk! 

 

 

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Why do we need a Secular Summer Camp? [podcast]

Katie at a tableKatie Hladky, our interim executive director just sat down with Spencer Hawkins and Andres Salais over at Unbelievers Radio to discuss Camp Quest.

They spoke about why there's a need for a secular summer camp, how Camp Quest is different from traditional summer camps, and children and teens interest in philosophy.  

Listen here!

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