It’s P***ing Down at Camp Quest

 

British Summer Time (Again!)

British Summer Time (Again!)

Maybe there is a God and (s)he(it) has not taken kindly to Camp Quest, UK because it is absolutely chucking it down, cats and dogs, in Bruton, Somerset at the moment. What was it the Met Office predicted back in April? – Oh yes  I remember “a barbeque summer.”

Anyway, my littlest (we call Ez) is there and I am afraid when I pick her up on Friday that she will have trench foot. Still she seemed to be having a lot of fun yesterday as we watched her on the National BBC News when they ran an item on every news slot.

Camp Quest raised a few eyebrows yesterday and got the rumour-mongering going. I swear to the GSM in the sky, that they introduced it as Richard Dawkin’s athiest camp where children are taught to hate religion and sit around the campfire singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Purleease!

First, Dawkins has nothing to do with it personally. It was set up by a couple of grad students following the model of Camp  Quest in the US. They got a one-off (small) check from the Richard Dawkins Foundation. It is a humanist camp that teaches critical thinking and if that just so happens to be an approach that challenges religion so be it. And the bit about singing imagine was a typical Daily Mail snipe in an earlier article that has been taken as gospel by the BBC producers. It’s true. Journalists are lazy and can’t be bothered to check sources or facts.

Anyway, Little Ez and I appeared on the same edition of the local BBC new programme “Points West” last night which was weird. She was there again pushing another child through a giant cats craddle on the videotape shot at the camp and me in the sunny gardens behind BBC Bristol, interviewed later on as an “expert” (Ha!) on developmental psychology (I never told them that my youngest was at the camp). I said that if Camp Quest is teaching critical thinking to young children then bully for them, because the students we get coming through the doors to University haven’t been taught these skills at school.

Oh, by the way, it wasn’t my idea to send Little Ez to Camp Quest…. she found out about it and pestered me to go.I just hope she doesn’t dissolve by Friday.

12 Comments

Filed under atheism, In the News

12 responses to “It’s P***ing Down at Camp Quest

  1. 124

    Bruce,

    one point in your post that needs clarifying:

    “I said that if Camp Quest is teaching critical thinking to young children then bully for them, “because the students we get coming through the doors to University haven’t been taught these skills at school”

    This phrase suggests Bristol students do not have the ability to think critically. Although I agree with you that schools may not TEACH this, it does not mean that the students do not have this capacity (its usually something that cannot be taught but that is encouraged in one’s home environment from a younger age). Perhaps you think students are not critical thinkers because you may not have witnessed it in the context in which you are in…maybe the course that is being taught at Bristol does not allow for it? I think maybe if tutorials were encourgaed at Bristol, where students were encouraged to debate and engage in literature, then you would actually be rather impressed!

    • brucehood

      Most (not all) students we get in the first year are top grade students who have achieved the highest grades in the country BUT most (not all) have a difficulty with the notions of hypothesis, null hypothesis, mutually exclusive criteria etc etc… its not that they can’t think critically, they are not taught and get very upset when they are presented with alternative theories and then ask, “So which is correct?” I agree if we got our tutorial system sorted out then we could really engage them. So it’s not that Bristol student’s can’t … they don’t know how… Now you might say that ‘s what university is for…I would argue that it should happen much earlier and then there would be less anxiety about competing ideas.

  2. How wonderful for her (except for the trench foot). Hopefully in a few years mine will be wanting to go, too.

  3. jacarandamimosifolia

    The ridiculous weather is explained! It’s all the fault of those crazed atheists. I fully expect a plague of frogs in the South West tomorrow.

  4. I hope your child has a great time at Camp Quest UK. My two children are at Camp Quest this week in the US, their third summer at CQ. They had a great time the past two times, and couldn’t wait to return this year. I’ve been reading all the CQ posts in the British papers, blogs, etc, and it’s been amazing how much press has been generated.

    My kids love CQ because they get to spend a week with their peers, kids just like them who are being raised without religion in their lives. My kids spend 51 weeks a year around religious relatives and classmates. For one week a year, they can ask questions and chat about things, without being told they are going to hell or that their parents are evil for not having them baptized.

    CQ has been such a reassurance to them that they are not alone, and they find their counselors pretty darn cool as well. It’s nice for them to see and hear other adults, outside of their parents, who are not religious.

    My kids are able to have great conversations with lots of folks at Camp Quest, things they don’t feel comfortable saying to a grandparent or cousin or neighbor or classmate.

  5. Arno

    RaptureReady (I don’t think I need to explain their background) has written on this as well on their forums and hilarity ensues

    My personal favourite quote?

    “Lets face it Atheism is bankrupt so they have to indoctrinate young children.

  6. Although I was deeply unimpressed with the spin the Daily Mail attempted to put on their Camp Quest article, I was very encouraged by the comments left by readers of the on-line version Being a sad beardy skeptic, I have analysed the comments on my blog:

    http://crispian-jago.blogspot.com/2009/07/overwhelming-support-for-camp-quest-uk.html

  7. I’m bemused and annoyed in equal measure that ‘Atheism’ has become a bit of a cause celebre these days.

    I’m an atheist by default, in that I don’t hold any religious beliefs. Such things for me fall into the ‘nice story, but…’ category, and to my mind, that makes me an atheist. That doesn’t make me ‘anti-religious’ in any way, merely ‘non-religious’.

    Atheism is a state of mind, of non-belief. It is not a movement or an organisation, and the fact that pillocks such as Dawkins seem intent on flogging it as such is offensive to me.

    WayBeyondSoccerMom’s comment, I find very disturbing, for the insinuation that life in her part of the USA is so controlled by organised religion that you have to attend a summer camp in order to be able to speak about it in a negative or questioning way.

  8. Sadly, life in the USA is quite, not controlled per se, but inundated with Christianity. It is not unusual for non-Christians, be they Athiest or otherwise, to come under personal attack for choosing not to believe in God.

    In fact, all the Atheists I know regularly tell me they feel as though they are considered to be second class citizens because of their “lack of faith.” (Note how it’s a lack of something rather than a alternative choice or a belief system of their own.)

    Even though I am not an Athiest, I am not raising my daughter in any one faith, instead letting her decide her path when she reaches an age where it is interesting to her.

    Camp Quest sounds like a wonderful place for children to be, especially given all the faith based camps my kiddo inevitably ends up feeling left out of. We shall have to check it out.

  9. This is a great site on the paranormal. I have a paranormal blog myself. We should exchange links. Let me know.

    Jason

  10. brucehood

    I am pleased to report that Little Ez had a fantastic time at Camp Quest down in Bruton last week even though they only had a couple of days of sunshine. When I turned up yesterday morning to collect her, they were all inside a tent listening eagerly to a lecture given from a chap from the Natural History Museum. I eavesdropped on the group and some really interesting facts about herbivores, the co-evolution of insects and flowers etc. But it wasn’t all learning and lectures. On the drive home, Little Ez told me about the zip wire which at 360m is one of the longest suspended cables that kids can go shooting down. There was such enthusiasm for Camp Quest that they were already talking about the meeting next year! So that will be Camp Re-Quest then.

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