Camp Quest Famous Freethinkers Faceoff!

Camp Quest’s Famous Freethinker program educates campers about positive contributions made by people who challenge traditional religious authority. But this is only the beginning…

Now we match those freethinkers up head-to-head and you decide who wins! Vote with your donations in our Famous Freethinker Faceoff Fundraiser to determine which face cards these Freethinkers become in our upcoming Famous Freethinkers Playing Card Deck!

Camp Quest Famous Freethinkers Faceoff Bracket
Bruce Lee vs. Daniel RadcliffeWhoopi Goldberg vs. Chris KluweVirginia Woolf vs. Frida KahloPablo Picasso vs. Douglas AdamsElon Musk vs. Richard DawkinsThomas Edison vs. Neil deGrasse TysonAyaan Hirsi Ali vs. Elizabeth Cady StantonThomas Jefferson vs. Frederick Douglass

The First Round Features:

Diamonds: Bruce Lee vs. Daniel Radcliffe and Whoopi Goldberg vs. Chris Kluwe

Hearts: Virginia Woolf vs. Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso vs. Douglas Adams

Spades: Elon Musk vs. Richard Dawkins and Thomas Edison vs. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Clubs: Ayaan Hirsi Ali vs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Thomas Jefferson vs. Frederick Douglass

The links take you to the head-to-head contest page where you can donate to vote!

Is Whoopi Goldberg an Ace? Support her vs. Chris Kluwe so she advances to the next round.  Big Frida Kahlo fan? Make her our Ace of Hearts!

Freethinkers who win this round will go on to compete to be the King or the Ace, while the losers will be the Jacks and Queens. The first round closes on December 1, 2014, but a Freethinker can win by getting to $2,500 first, so don't wait until the deadline and find your favorite freethinker has already lost! » 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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What Camp Quest Means to Me: Caleb Davis

Caleb looking upCaleb Davis studies social work at West Virginia University, and after graduation he plans to work for Child Protective Services. At 17, Caleb discovered a passion for music, playing guitar and singing in several bands. As founder and president of his school's Secular Student Alliance, Caleb has set himself apart as a campus leader and activist. Indeed, it was his work with the Secular Student Alliance that first led him to Camp Quest. Although he was initially skeptical about the idea of a secular summer camp, today he feels right at home. 

My name is Caleb Davis and I am a cabin counselor with Camp Quest Chesapeake. I work at a burrito joint, attend West Virginia University for social work, and in 2 weeks I turn 22. I spend a lot of time in self-reflection because West Virginia can be a pretty lonely place for a freethinker. » Read more

What Camp Quest Means to Us: The Troxell Family

Abby and kidsThe Troxell Family has been attending Camp Quest Ohio since 2009. The family is comprised of mom, Abby Barker Troxell, who works as a personal banker, dad, Spencer Troxell, who works as a behavioral case manager, and three great little boys, Eliot (13), Jack (9), and Langston (3). They all live in Cincinnati, Ohio and have two chihuahuas named Schopy and Ralph, and a weird cat named Elifuege, who lives in their basement. 

This awesome secular family was searching for a community for their children, hear what they have to say about what they found in Camp Quest!

Community is not a concept that is familiar to my wife and I. We are both the black sheep of our respective families, and have struggled throughout our lives with being outsiders in virtually every setting. 

Enter our kids. 

Upon the birth of our eldest son, we decided we wanted to penetrate this mystery of community, and find a setting where our children could be at once embraced and challenged, without having their essential uniqueness stripped of them. 

Spencer and Kids

We tried several venues. Churches. Community organizations. None stuck in exactly the right way. My wife and I had grown into fairly radical individualists, and something about the community structure of most organizations taxed something essential about us. Even the most welcoming organizations demanded a certain amount of conformity.

Enter Camp Quest. 

We learned about Camp Quest through Richard Dawkins' website. My wife had always been somewhat ambiguous about religion, but when I grew out of my faith, I did so in a somewhat flamboyant fashion. I was drawn out of the comfort zone of my religion by Christopher Hitchen in particular, but the other three horsemen also intrigued me. I began my reading as a believer seeking to sharpen his faith against the iron of non-believers, and found myself eventually convinced that I was on the wrong team. This revelation came at a good time, because my kids were still young. I can't imagine the damage I might have done to them if I had tried to impart some elements of my former faith to them, had it survived their infanthood. In fact, the birth of my children has a huge effect on my move away from religious faith; faith had been a deleterious factor in my life overall. I can't imagine teaching my children about hell or vicarious redemption. » Read more

Exclusive Scouting and the Defamation of Atheists

MarthaMartha Knox is a long time supporter and volunteer for Camp QuestHer article below discusses Camp Quest in relation to other scouting options and the challenges of nontheistic parenting. This article is reprinted with permission from the July/August 2014 Freethought Society newsletter.

A year ago the Boy Scouts of America adopted a resolution to end the ban on openly gay scouts. Many cheered, despite the fact that the BSA – the scouting group with the greatest resources and prominence in American society – still won’t allow openly gay leaders and continues its ban on atheist leaders and scouts.

In response, Herb Silverman, founder of the Secular Coalition for America, lamented, “There is no similar step forward for atheists. This modified policy would still require local groups to discriminate against atheists, apparently because the Boy Scout Oath implies that an atheist can’t be ‘morally straight’ unless he can do his ‘duty to God.’” 

Using this twisted logic, a number of courageous and honest atheists have been kicked out of the Scouts for rejecting all supernatural beliefs. Among them was my friend Darrell Lambert, an Eagle Scout, who had been supported by his entire troop.

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What Camp Quest Means to Us: Gregory and Valerie Keithly

Val and Greg acting silly in front of a mountainBrother and sister Gregory and Valerie Keithly, ages 21 and 17, have been attending Camp Quest for 8 years. Gregory is entering his third year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a major in physics focusing on astronomy. Valerie is entering her senior year of high school. Both have participated in Odyssey of the Mind since elementary school and in Marching Band in high school, with Gregory continuing at the university level. This past year Valerie’s Odyssey of the Mind team went to the world finals competition in three problems, the first team in North Carolina history to do so. Gregory served as assistant coach to the team.

Gregory and Valerie first attended Camp Quest Smoky Mountains in 2006, and have attended 13 Camp Quest sessions at 7 different locations as either a camper, CIT, or counselor.


 Greg getting pied

For 51 weeks out of the year, our lack of religion is not something we like to talk about with others. Because we live in the Bible Belt, our nonbelief is something we have kept to ourselves for fear of being insulted, degraded, or bullied. However, for one week out of the year (or two, or three, or however many we’re doing that year) we can be open. We can be ourselves.

Val and friends

It all began in 2006 when our mother was reading through The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and saw a reference to Camp Quest. After reading more information online, our parents figured it would be a great way to get us out of the house while they prepared for our move from Florida to North Carolina. 

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What Camp Quest Means to Me: Tristan Ginn

Tristan at 8

Nineteen-year-old Tristan Ginn has been attending Camp Quest Ohio since 2006, this year was his first as a counselor. In the fall, Tristan will begin attending Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis where he plans to major in non-profit management and become active in the campus LGBTQ movement.

Tristan looks forward to returning to Camp Quest every summer to share his passion for Camp Quest's values and to continue his work guiding young campers as they discover the power of critical thinking and the joys of community. Below, Tristan shares his story growing up with Camp Quest. 

Camp Quest is one of the most wonderful events in my life every year. I started going to camp when I was nine, a small child in a big world. But camp made that big world a little smaller, and that community of wonderful, loving people grew on me as I went back each year. All of the activities that I experienced as a camper were phenomenal and each pushed me outside my comfort zone. This is what makes the Camp Quest experience a magical one.

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What Camp Quest Means to Me: Azure Hansen

Azure ziplining

Azure Hansen stands out in a crowd. She's the one rocking two side buns and talking about quantum mechanics. When she's not at camp, Azure is in her lab experimenting with lasers or researching for her doctorate in super cold physics. 

Azure started with Camp Quest in 1997, when she was a camper. Now she's teaching the next generation to appreciate the sciences with her awesome programming on smart things like visual optics, Tesla coils, and snacking on bugs! 

It is somewhat contradictory to describe what we do at Camp Quest as creating magic. We are, after all, primarily a group of freethinkers and skeptics. Having experienced Camp Quest both as a camper and a volunteer, I can not find a better word. For one week, passionate volunteers and incredible young people come together for a unique blend programs and fun. Thanks to CQ, I have helped create an environment where young people feel safe to discuss intellectually or personally difficult subjects, challenge their minds and bodies in new ways, go beyond their perceived or self-imposed limitations, and make life-long friends.


Seventeen years ago, I joined a fledgling community founded by an incredible couple, Helen and Edwin Kagin, along with other members of FIG. In 1996, there was no freethought movement, nowhere online or otherwise for young people to find like-minded peers, no way to safely explore our developing worldviews outside our (hopefully) supportive families. Camp Quest filled a serious void for a handful of kids those first summers in Ohio. Since then CQ has become one of the major forces in the youth freethought movement and has helped thousands of kids (and adults!) find their voice and a place. 

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What Camp Quest Means to Me: Sarah Henry

Sarah running

Sarah Henry just graduated from high school in June. Most kids Sarah Henry's age are focusing on what subject they are going to study in college. And she's doing that too, but Sarah Henry also writes for the Foundation Beyond Belief, co-founded her high school's Secular Student Alliance, took first place in this year's Robert Ingersoll Oratory Contest and We the People's Regional Competition, and just spoke at the Kentucky Freethought Convention

Since 2006, Sarah's been attending and volunteering for Camp Quest. In 2014, she'll be volunteering with three different Camp Quests, including being the youngest assistant camp director to date. Read on to hear what Sarah has to say about her camp Quest experience.  

When I told my mom, at 10 years old, that I didn’t believe in God, she told me “Well, let’s find some things that atheists do.”  That summer, I spent my first week at Camp Quest Ohio, and it changed my life. 

My first year at secular summer camp brought with it new friends and a new community.  As a kid, the friends and the games were the most important part to me.  Camp Quest works to make sure that every kid is having one of the best weeks of the year, with pool games, arts and crafts, bonfires, and that essential summer camp staple: s'mores.

As I got older, different things became my reasons for returning year after year.  As I faced both personal and religious bullies at school and in my home community, the friends and support system of Camp Quest helped me realize that it was okay not to believe in a deity.  They helped me realize how I looked had absolutely nothing to do with my merits.  They helped me realize that no matter what happened at my home or in my outside life, my camp family would always be there with open arms and an ear to lend. » Read more

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