RELEASE: Expelled Eagle Scouts Lead Secular Summer Camp

As Camp Quest embarks on our ambitious Envision 2020 campaign to double the campers we serve by 2020, we're proud to be led by two former Eagle Scouts.  Check out our press release issued today, and consider supporting our expansion. The first $50,000 raised will be matched by the Stiefel Freethought Foundation.

April 14, 2015

For Immediate Release

Contact, Amanda K. Metskas, Executive Director

Atheist Former Boy Scouts Lead Secular Alternative Summer Camp


Shawn Jeffers Camp QuestCOLUMBUS, Ohio -- Camp Quest, a summer camp serving youth from non-religious families, is now led by two Eagle Scouts, Shawn Jeffers (Chair) and Neil Polzin (Vice Chair). Former Boy Scout leaders, both men are unwelcome in the Boy Scouts of America because they are atheists.

Having a place to continue to practice the skills they learned in Boy Scouts and passing those skills and a love of the outdoors along to children was a big motivation for both Shawn and Neil's involvement with Camp Quest.

"Camp Quest is a place where kids develop independence, have fun, and make friends. They learn critical thinking skills alongside traditional camp-craft. It combines the best of what I got from being in the Boy Scouts with inclusive policies promoting empathy, open questioning, and integrity," Neil Polzin said.

Over the last two decades many atheist scouts, like Darrell Lambert, have been faced with the choice of feigning belief in God to stay in the organization, or being honest and that leading to their expulsion. » 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.

 » Read more

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

Donate in the Freethinker Faceoff Final Round!

The winners are in from round one, and now the final round of Camp Quest's Famous Freethinker Faceoff begins! From now until December 12th your donations will determine which of these famous freethinkers become the Aces in our upcoming Famous Freethinker playing card deck!

Final Round Freethinker Faceoff Bracket

Ace of Hearts - Douglas Adams vs. Frida Kahlo
Ace of Spades - Neil deGrasse Tyson vs. Elon Musk
Ace of Diamons - Daniel Radcliffe vs. Whoopi Goldberg
Ace of Clubs - Elizabeth Cady Stanton vs. Frederick Douglass

So click on your favorite contest, and advance your favorite freethinker all while supporting Camp Quest!  You'll be glad you did.

Here's the best part!  Not only does your gift help determine who the winners are in our Famous Freethinker Faceoff, you also help support Camp Quest's amazing programs.  Here's three great reasons to make a tax-deductible contribution now!

  • Camp Quest is growing! This year we served over 1,000 campers and their families, but demand for our programs far exceeds our capacity. Your contributions go directly to helping us grow to support the unmet needs of secular families around the country!
  • Camp Quest is the only organization in the secular movement dedicated entirely to children and their families. See what one family says about their experience:

“We have met many wonderful people through our association with Camp Quest, and our children have grown remarkably from it. Not only have we found a tool to facilitate our childrens' growth, we have found something that has proven otherwise elusive to us: community. I recommend Camp Quest for the believer and non-believer alike. No other organization has been as respectful to the individual development of my children, and no other organization has done as much to welcome my quirky family into its community. Camp Quest will change your life. It changed ours.” -- The Troxell Family

  • A contribution to Camp Quest is an investment in the future. By teaching kids essential critical thinking skills and providing them with supportive communities, we empowering youth to make their own choices, and grow to become our future leaders.

Once you've made your gift, please share this contest with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Feel free to download the larger version of our bracket to share as well, and thank you!

Camp Quest
Give Today. Create Tomorrow.

 » Read more

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! 



 » Read more

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!

 » Read more

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

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