Camp Quest Northwest Featured on Nightline

Tonight on Nightline, there’s a pretty positive segment about Camp Quest Northwest:

***Update***: Video is below:

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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.

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.

  • Stephanie Thayer

    My son attended the camp at Chesapeake this summer and had such a blast. He has yet to declare if he is an atheist or not, however he felt very accepted and free being in place with like-minded people and similar family backgrounds.  I just watched the segment on Nightline and they did put a lot of emphases on the word, “Atheist”. Ian ( my 8 year old) said that they didn’t really use that word too much and mainly focused on games, nature walks and learning. It was really exciting seeing Camp Quest on TV, though!

  • guest

    This is wonderful. My husband and I are expecting our first child this winter, and I’m already looking forward to him/her being old enough to attend. I went to a christian summer camp as a child and loved the activities (well, most of them); I want to give the little one the same experience without the dogma.

  • ErickaMJohnson

    Massive kuddos to the volunteers who made this, and every other Camp Quest a reality. Friggin’ awesome!

  • rlrose63

    We hope to send our son there next year (and hubby and I will have a nice vacation up north while the Kid is enjoying science!).  Anyone else here going to CQNW in summer 2013?  Would love to penpal for awhile so he/we will know someone there.

  • rlrose63

    Stupidity is healthy… that’s basically what they’re saying.  You can shut your mind off from the nasty, horrible stuff in the world, “give to God,” and keep smiling, despite reality.  I sincerely wish I could do that sometimes.  It sure would make life easier.

  • The Prof

    My 10 yo daughter attended CQNW this year and had a blast every day! We homeschool her and are a tight knit family and she had never been away for more than a one night sleep over before so my husband and I camped nearby. We rarely get time alone but didn’t have near the fun that she did at Camp Quest ( ha ha). The kids swam and canoed and did archery and all the typical summer camp stuff as well as chemistry food class making soda pop and tootsie rolls and critical thinking activities all with the open tolerance not often extended to atheist children who are eager to learn through science and reason rather than myth and indoctrination. Plus no prayers and pledges as we found in Scouts. I’m so impressed with the CQNW staff and volunteers. Very dedicated and enthusiastic crew. We can’t wait for next year! ~ Sally

  • starmom
  • rlrose63

    That sounds like so much fun!  My son asked to join Boy Scouts when he was 5 and we explained why we just couldn’t do it.  Luckily, when he was 6, we found Camp Namanu, run by Campfire.  It’s right by Mount Hood and he loved 5 years of camping there.  This year, his 6th year at camp, there was a bullying incident, for the first time.  My son was the bullied child and he was sent home.  We love Camp Namanu, too… secular, nothing religious at all, and co-ed.

    So… we hope Camp Quest will be the answer to our summer camp issue.  It’s good to hear there is regular camping stuff, too.  While our son is in gifted science classes, he’s just not all that curious about anything that’s not video game related.

    Thanks for your reply!   Maybe we’ll see you there!

  • Barbara

     “The best way to become an atheist is to study the Bible, and I definitely recommend the kids do that.”
    Cheers to this. Too bad that kids who are studying the Bible are too often forced to adhere to others’ perception of it instead of being able to freely come to their own conclusion about its passages. Without the religious thought police (pastors, fanatical parents) there to control every idea in their impressionable young minds, it is more likely for kids to become atheists or agnostics after reading the Bible. 

  • Deanna

    My college aged son was a Camp Quest counselor at three different Camp Quest locations this summer, and my teeenaged daughter went to two Camp Quests in two different states as a CIT.  Please encourage your children to think about volunteering their time during the summer at a Camp Quest.  My kids have been part of the CQ community for the past six years, and they look forward to CQ all year long.  

  • LL

    WHAT??  Listen to the statement made at 00:46.
    “…Camp Quest, where hundreds of non-believing parents send their often faithless offspring to reinforce their passionate lack of belief in the divine…”  

    I don’t think that’s good PR for Camp Quest at all, IMO.  I would want to send my kids to a camp to reinforce their passion for life (without god) rather than to reinforce their passion for the lack of belief in god.   I was under the impression THAT’s what Camp Quest was about.  Was I wrong?