A Psychic Class for Children

There’s a summer camp for children ages 5-10 in Colorado where the kids play games and sing and draw…

Sounds good so far.

Then you hear about what else they do and you discover this is basically a camp for con-artists-in-the-making:

When they’re ready, kids can also learn how to read auras, set energetic boundaries, set intentions and meet spirit guides.

“I don’t except a 5-year-old to grasp all of this right away, but it’s like we’re planting a seed,” [teacher Stacia] Synnestvedt says.

Stacia Synnestvedt shows students where the ‘chakras’ on their bodies are. (Cliff Grassmick – Daily Camera)

The camp is called “Psychic Courses for Children” and it costs $20 per 50-minute session… which some parents are apparently paying because [insert speculative suggestions here].

Sharon Hill points out the obvious problem with the class:

We seem to have a situation here where the start is good, to learn to understand our own thoughts and pay attention to the things around us, but it goes off the edge with ridiculous concepts such as psychic energy and channeling.

By the way, if you’re 11 or older, the Psychic Horizons Center has a class for you, too:

… kids will learn about their energetic boundaries and how to read energy for the benefit of learning more about themselves and how to navigate the world around them utilizing their own personal knowingness. We will also explore concepts such as auras, past lives, and spirit guides.

You know, if these parents just wanted to brainwash their children, there’s no lack of Vacation Bible Schools in Colorado…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    When I was at the CA state fair with my son, there was a booth pushing those hologram bracelet things.  I didn’t get what they were at first since they had super hero logos and such.  But when she asked if my son “like to jump and run” (what five year old doesn’t) and then told me “it would help his balance and flexibility” I started laughing.   She kept insisting on trying to make a believer out of me.  Having seen a few of the debunking videos on youtube, I was sorely tempted to take the challenge for the sake of any suckers watching.  On the other hand my son had already seen something else he wanted to see, and I have to admit I was concerned that if she was so willing to take on a skeptic, she might have some tricks up her sleeve I wasn’t aware of.  I’m not James Randi by any shot.

    In the end I walked on, but when we got home, I showed my son two of the tricks, the “flexibility” one and the “push over” one.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Post some links to the videos Rich.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        I don’t see the ones I saw initially, but there are a ton out there

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpLt0oUWfOk  will get one started. 

        or search on youtube for ‘power balance scam’

        The two that I was aware of were the twist one (the 2nd time you twist you’ll twist farther because your muscles warm up from the first)

        and the arms extended forward balance test (you push a bit in and it completely changes the dynamics)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CKQEXWUDO4UDPBRXPYVVIUOLFI Matt P

    Just in case anyone is interested I’m offering a course as well. Basically you just give me money and there’s no need to waste time showing up or making time in your busy schedule. So I’m actually increasing your leisure time. I accept money orders, actually prefer them. -facepalm-

  • http://twitter.com/AchronTimeless Achron Timeless

    If there’s one thing xtians have figured out, it’s marketing to people too undeveloped to reject it. It’s really no surprise that other beliefs are trying to follow the same template.

    The fun thing about science is you can wait till someone is in their 20s, show them a cell with a microscope, show them how to program a computer or how the electronics inside work, or before it was cancelled take them to a shuttle launch. You don’t have to go after them when they can’t reason for themselves if you’re not selling a lie.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    It’s just like Vacation Bible School, only without the self-hatred. Seriously, I wonder if these things are more or less harmful than traditional Christianity. On the one hand, it’s the same sort of supernatural thinking that permeates our entire culture. On the other hand, New-Agers seem to have a slightly less toxic influence, politically speaking. Is it better to have more kids indoctrinated to believe in “auras” and “spirit guides” or in “sin” and “hell?”

    • Annie

       If I had to choose between this course or vacation bible school for my child (and thank goodness I don’t!), I think I would go with the new-age classes for the reasons you mentioned (less toxic, hold the self-hate).  Also, it seems to put the sense of power, as false as it may be, in the hands of the student, and not in some imaginary being.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        $20 per 50-minute session
        If I really had to choose… I’d be tempted to arm him with enough questions that they’d just kick him out.

        • Annie

           VBS is certainly the cheaper option.  In my area, they offer many programs for free, and even pick up the kids at their homes and feed them… preying upon poorer families who couldn’t otherwise afford summer programs.

          • onamission5

            I’ve come up against this as well. In one state we lived, all of the low income child care programs were religious. I looked into a couple which seemed less blatantly Konvert All Teh Childrenz oriented, but they still had prayer time, devotion time and bible study time– for toddlers. Toddlers! Not a Dr. Seuss book in the house, just bible stories. But, one place assured me, they took children of all faiths! Jesus is for everybody!

            I decided not to go back to work just then after all.  

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        I would, too. I also think it’s possible that New-Age beliefs are easier for children to outgrow. Mainstream society doesn’t support it. Crystals, auras, and the like are all seen as rather wacky. A lot of children have lucky charms, mood rings, rabbits’ feet, ouija boards, etc. So unless their parents are hardcore proponents of New-Age thinking, I think the majority of children attending this camp are going to have a fun time and then promptly forget about most of this silliness down the road.

    • Ibis3

       I would vote New Age too. At least it’s using a kid’s imagination for generally positive things–interacting with a “spirit guide” can be a good way of practising self-reflection and creativity, meditation is a good tool for stress relief, “working with energies” is a method of triggering altered states of consciousness that are, in the main, largely benign. To explain that there’s nothing supernatural about it all and that it’s just another way humans have of playing pretend would not be a difficult concept to get across. Hell and sin though? Severe damage.

  • Carla

    Can someone point me to some good resources on psychics, etc?  I’m a non-believer by default, but I’ve never seen any real science to back up that thought.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/47IDX2QAR6VU6ZAILFU6I23ACQ Joseph

    When I was a kid, I used to be interested in good luck charms, horoscopes, and other supernatural and superstitious things.  I don’t think I ever truly believed any of it, but I was intrigued by it nonetheless.  In junior high school, my best friend used to give me shit when I’d make any references to good or bad luck omens, even if I did so jokingly or out of habit (e.g., avoiding cracks in the sidewalk, crossing my fingers).  I was just starting to fall out with the Catholic Church at the time, and I don’t think he ever went to church.

    Years later, when we were both adults, he married a woman who turned him on to Jesus, while I became a full-blown atheist. I couldn’t believe that the kid who wisely gave me a hard time about superstitious behavior when we were younger was now praying for my soul and quoting scripture whenever we would get together.  How ironic.

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Facepalm.

    “You know, if these parents just wanted to brainwash their children, there’s no lack of Vacation Bible Schools in Colorado…”

    True, but at least the psychic class isn’t teaching them to hate themselves and everyone else. 

  • Coyotenose

    Why bother going to camp to learn how to become a psychic? Just become a conservative Christian. They all have magic powers that let them know what people are REALLY thinking, regardless of the actions they take.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Hey, it… it kinda sounds like fun.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Welcome, psychic kids, to Camp Woo Woo! I’m camp director Conrad Mann, and this is our chief counselor, Claire Voyance. But you already knew that, right? You’ve been assigned to your different cabins, and I’m sure you already know which ones, right? But don’t worry, there’s a list on the wall in case you’ve forgotten.  Go settle in, and we’ll all meet back here for dinner at 6 PM. But you already knew that, right? Tomorrow we’ll enjoy out-of-body swimming, knowingness guessing games, prophetic archery, remote viewing birdwatching,  and an astral projection hike. In the evening we’ll enjoy telepathic stories around the campfire. But you already knew all that, right? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/roccim Marlo Rocci

    Psychic program for children?  THAT explains why every channel is now showing “My Little Pony”!  I told you psychic powers for children is ALWAYS a bad idea!

  • TheExpatriate700

    Honestly, I’d be lying if I said I found this particularly upsetting. The only reason I object to religion is that religious people try to push their beliefs on others. New Agers tend not to do that, so I am not particularly interested.

    Some will note the harm caused by alternative medical practices such as reiki. However, to me, that just falls under the buyer beware guidelines.

    • Sindigo

      Let me guess. You’re an Aquarius, right?

    • onamission5

      I have to disagree with the claim that new agers don’t push their beliefs onto others. They definitely do, in the form of homeopathy rather than medicine and as one family I met did, “healing” their children with magnets. Not minor injuries, either. Their daughter’s sprained ankle, which needed ice and elevation and possibly an xray. They instead placed magnets on her and declared her healed by the following day, even though it was plain to see she was still bruised and hobbling. I told her that magnets were for fridges, kept her at my house with her ankle on ice until the swelling abated, and only sent her home when I absolutley had to.

      So new age BS might not have the same political influence as other religions, but it does and can still cause harm.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        So new age BS might not have the same political influence as other religions

        *cough* Ronald Reagan *cough*

        • onamission5

          LOL. Well, yes, then there’s that. What I meant though is we don’t see in the US the same organized political push to inflict new age BS onto the general poulation in quite the same way that creationists successfully lobby for teaching the so-called evolution controversy. We do have those in power who buy into the nutbggery, but it’s viewed as more of a personality quirk than a protected, sancrosant, holiest of holy, unquestionable religious right.

  • Tom

    “You were born with a special gift. But the people around you treat it
    like a curse. Your mother is afraid of you, and your father looks at
    you with shame in his eyes. Come to Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp,
    and you can show them all! Back home, your powers make you a loner, an
    outcast, a circus freak. But in this dojo—in this psychic dojo—they make
    you… a hero.”

    Stirring stuff (that I stole from one of the best games ever).  In all seriousness, just replace the psychic stuff with “independent, critical thought” and this could be our own recruiting pitch to the children of fundamentalists.

  • Miranda F

    I am an Atheist (well, at the very least I have no belief in the ‘God’ society projects or an ‘all-powerful and mighty leader’), but I don’t see this as a bad thing. First of all, I don’t think they should be charging to teach these kids these things, not because the topic of Psychic phenomena is bad or anything, but because they can easily just look up how to do these things and practice at home, but I understand they apparently also do other ‘Summer Camp Activities’ and have to make money, so…. Otherwise I don’t see it as a terrible thing.


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