Camp Quest Kansas City

Camp Quest envisions a world in which children grow up exploring, thinking for themselves, connecting with their communities, and acting to make the most of life for themselves and others.

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Camp Quest FBB’s most recent small grant awardee

Foundation Beyond Belief is thrilled to announce that Camp Quest is the most recent Small Grant Awardee of our Humanist Giving Program. Camp Quest is the first residential summer camp in the history of the United States for the children of atheists, freethinkers, and humanists or whomever else hold to a naturalistic, not supernatural world…

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Camp Quest idea guide now available

With summer approaching, many parents are looking forward to sending their children to summer camp. Camp Quest is the top choice of secular humanists and skeptics who want their children to have an educational experience along with traditional summer camp activities. Children who go to Camp Quest learn about astronomy, biology, and environmental science. Campers…

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FBB Donations Help Camp Quest Launch Two New Camps

Third-quarter children’s beneficiary Camp Quest gave us this report about how they are using the funds contributed by members of Foundation Beyond Belief. Members donated $3,325 to Camp Quest last quarter.

Camp Quest was honored to be selected as a Foundation Beyond Belief beneficiary for a second year. Like last year, we are using the Foundation’s support to launch new camps.  It takes about $5,000 in seed money to start a new camp. Camp Quest gives out grants of $2,500, which gets our volunteer camp organizers halfway there, and they match that amount by raising the rest from local supporters. In 2010, Camp Quest used the $2,470 raised by Foundation Beyond Belief toward a camp-starting grant for Camp Quest Chesapeake, which had a very successful first camp session in 2011 with 35 campers.

This year, of the $3,325 raised by Foundation Beyond Belief, we are using $2,500 to fully fund a camp-starting grant for Camp Quest South Carolina.  Camp Quest South Carolina held a very successful family weekend October 1-2, which was attended by more than 120 people.  They are preparing to hold their first week-long sleep-away camp session in summer 2012, and the $2,500 camp-starting grant will make a big difference.

But that’s not all! We are putting the remaining $825 raised by Foundation Beyond Belief toward another camp-starting grant.  We are very excited to announce that Camp Quest is coming to Washington State. Camp Quest NorthWest will be holding their first session August 15-21, 2012.  Support from Foundation Beyond Belief will provide one-third of their camp starting grant.

Foundation Beyond Belief’s support over these last two years is making a huge difference for Camp Quest.  We want to thank all of the members of the Foundation for their generosity. It means a lot to us to see a community of atheists, humanists, and other freethinkers coming together to support Camp Quest and so many other worthy organizations.  Thank you Foundation Beyond Belief!

Amanda K. Metskas
Executive Director, Camp Quest, Inc.

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Foundation support kick-starts new Camp Quest Chesapeake

Camp QuestThird-quarter beneficiary Camp Quest gave us this report on how the funds they received from Foundation Beyond Belief will help them with their ongoing work.

For an organization with a small budget like Camp Quest, the $2,470 donation from the Foundation Beyond Belief makes a huge difference. Camp Quest operates almost entirely on volunteer labor, and currently we have volunteers starting new camps in a few locations. It takes about $5,000 in seed money to get a new camp started. We give out grants of $2,500 to get our volunteers halfway there, and they match that amount by raising the rest of the funds from local supporters. The $2,470 from Foundation Beyond Belief almost entirely funds our start-up grant to Camp Quest Chesapeake, which is having its first session in summer 2011 in Virginia.

Camp Quest Texas welcomed 39 campers and 10 volunteer counselors at its first session in summer 2010.In 2010, Camp Quest had more campers attend camp than ever before, and some of our locations even had to start a waiting list because they reached capacity. Launching new camps helps us meet this increasing demand and provides parents with options to send their children to camp closer to home.

We want to thank Foundation Beyond Belief for selecting Camp Quest, and we want to thank all of the members of the foundation for their generosity. It means a lot to us to see a community of atheists, humanists, and other freethinkers coming together to support our program along with so many other worthy organizations.

Amanda K. Metskas
Executive Director, Camp Quest, Inc.

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Q&A with Camp Quest’s AMANDA METSKAS

ametskasAMANDA METSKAS is Executive Director of Camp Quest, our current beneficiary in the “Big Bang” category — small charities (budgets under $1 million) making a big impact. Amanda launches our new ASK THE CHARITIES series by responding to questions submitted by our members.

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Q I’m sure you get this question all the time. We’re in southeastern Wyoming, just about maddeningly halfway between the Camp Quests in CA and MN. What are CQ’s plans for expansion, and might they include something in or around the Mountain timezone? — Dean W., Wyoming

A People regularly contact us because they want to see a Camp Quest get started in their area. We would love to see Camp Quest programs available to families everywhere, and I’d especially love to see a camp in the Rocky Mountains! Since we are a small organization with only one paid staff person, our expansion to new camps is driven by where we find local volunteers who are committed to starting camps. We help those independent groups of volunteers with training, troubleshooting, start-up grants, promotional materials, and other support. If you are interested in getting a camp started in your area, contact us and we’ll help you get going! 

Q How do you explain what Camp Quest is about to people who insist you’re indoctrinating kids with Atheism? — Paul P. (no location given)

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Power and authority in the witch camps of Northern Ghana

Two Simultaneous Systems of Government: Constitutional and Chieftaincy The women who have been accused of witchcraft in northern Ghana are all but powerless. They find themselves at the bottom of a traditional hierarchical government in which they have little to no say. This system runs alongside the national democratic government that has little to no…

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Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Quest for Cures update

Light the NightBy Brittany Shoots-Reinhard

Last year, secular humanist and atheist groups around the US and Canada helped raise more than $430,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year, we’re hoping to raise $500,000 with the help of a matching grant from Todd Stiefel and his family.

LLS directly funds quite a bit of cancer research; their newest program is the Quest for Cures. Through this program, research teams can submit proposals that address understanding why current treatments fail, identifying new therapeutic targets, and developing new treatment methods.

Recently, LLS has partnered with Valor Biotherapeutics and ImmunGene to develop a new treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. NHL is a common, but highly diverse, form of cancer. Many patients are resistant to standard treatment. LLS is committing $6 million to test a particular fusion protein (IGN002) that appears to be a promising drug candidate for these patients.

Will you help light the night?
Support the Foundation Beyond Belief Light The Night Walk team by joining a team. You can also donate directly to our team or buy Team FBB apparel.

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Humanist Perspectives: Two Camps of Secularism

This post is part of our Humanist Perspectives series. In this series, we invite guest contributors to explore active humanism and what it means to be a thoughtful, engaged member of society. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Many words spent on a marvelous prank
By Amanda Marcotte

What is secularism?: That’s the question that I’ve come to realize the atheist/secularist movement is actually dodging on a regular basis.  Which isn’t unusual–most social justice movements are actually pretty hazy when it comes to defining their core values.  This causes less tension than you’d think on a day-to-day basis, but often leaves a movement with an Achilles’ heel.  For instance, “feminism” is defined by some feminists as “promoting the interests of women” and by some (like myself) as “breaking down the gender binary and all its implications.” The latter also tends to link feminism more strongly with other social justice movements.  The vast majority of the time, the tension between these definitions doesn’t matter–we’re all anti-rape, all pro-equal pay, etc.–but then someone like Sarah Palin comes along and suddenly people firmly in camp #1 reveal that they’re willing to overlook a lot in order to get another female face into office. 

Anyway, the tension over “secularism” I’ve noticed is that for some (like myself), it means a society that has as much religious freedom as possible and for others, it means a more aggressive approach to pushing religion out of the public square.  Most of the time, there’s no tension.  We all object to “under God” in the Pledge, state promotion of religion, and allowing religious groups to replace good educational standards with religious ideology.  We think that having Congress open with prayers is unconstitutional, even if you diversify who’s praying, because it still favors belief over nonbelief.  But the tension between the two views comes out when it comes to questions of individual expression of faith.  Folks like me think that secularism means that the government should err on the side of liberty when it comes to individual expression of faith, in no small part because we are intensely skeptical that government restrictions on such expressions will be fairly applied, which makes it de facto establishment of religion.  (For instance, France claims to be “secular,” but the government tends to target religious minorities more, which increases the sense that Catholicism gets favored treatment.)  We argue that things like FIFA banning the Iranian women’s team for wearing hijabs doesn’t do anything for secularism except send the signal that secularism is a cover for racist bullying.  We argue that this will gradually erode religious faith over time, as people are exposed in the public square to the diversity of religions, and this provokes them to think things like, “Well they can’t all be right, but they could all be wrong.”  It’s easier to believe that your faith is the one true faith when you don’t ever really engage the fact that others believe differently.

The other argument is that secularism should be promoted aggressively by the government, and that believers should feel that their faith can only be expressed in private.  This argument gets dismissed out of hand a lot, but I think it should at least be heard, even if I disagree.  The underlying assumption is that by having so much religion in the public square, even if the government is officially neutral, believers start to think they do have support.  So  you have problems like Christians not understanding why they get to pray in school, but they aren’t allowed to dictate what’s taught in science class.  If we had a strict private/public divide regarding religion, these secularists argue, it would reduce tensions between groups in public as well. This is the argument in France behind banning all religious gear in the schools.  The hope is that by wiping religion out of the public sphere, people would become less religious over time, as well, because without the ability to establish yourself as pious to others, most of the reason to be religious disappears.  Also, this method takes away the need to constantly be drawing the line over where someone else’s religious freedom ends and other people’s right not to be hassled begins, since so many expressions of faith are about controlling others.  For instance, most religions still teach that women are lesser than men on one level or another, and that means many people being visibly faithful will do things that are oppressive to women. 

Like I said, I don’t think this tension actually means the two groups can’t work together, and honestly, the notion that there’s two distinct groups is untrue, anyway.  A lot of people drift between the two from situation to situation, which is one reason why I think the latter can’t work, because you see so many atheists assume that religious people from their own background are more harmless than religious people of other backgrounds, and so will be “camp one” with their own people, but “camp two” with different people.  But for argument’s sake, there’s the two camps on what “secularism” means. 

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