Tonight on Nightline, there’s a pretty positive segment about Camp Quest Northwest:
***Update***: Video is below:
Located just north of Seattle, Camp Quest Northwest is a summer camp for atheists or children of atheists, self-described “freethinkers” or people not otherwise traditionally religious.
“We would encourage them to read, to go to church,” said Chuck Wolber, one of Camp Quest Northwest’s founders. “The best way to become an atheist is to study the Bible, and I definitely recommend the kids do that.”
Of course, converting kids into atheists isn’t the point of the camp, even if that’s a byproduct. Mostly, it’s children of atheist parents enjoying themselves without having to censor what they say:
“It’s amazing. I love it here,” said a 9-year-old camper named Elle. “With certain people, you have to limit yourself or feel socially obligated. This feels nice to be here and not have to limit yourself and know you won’t be bullied or hurt.”
And you can’t have a segment like this air without the opposition…
… Lisa Miller, the director of clinical psychology at Columbia University whose research focuses on the spiritual awareness of children, said spirituality is incredibly valuable to a child’s development and it has been shown to emotionally protect children against suffering, even depression.
“Consistently, it’s been shown that spirituality is associated with health, greater academic achievement and, of great importance to teens, more meaning and purpose,” Miller said. “Spirituality, globally, helps children and adolescents to thrive.”
It’s not the spirituality that does it, though. It’s being surrounded by a group of like-minded friends who stand by your side — as is the case in both church youth groups and Secular Student Alliance groups. Jesus isn’t the cure for depression.
***Edit***: Miller also co-hosted the A&E series Psychic Kids. Enough said.