One way to know whether to take a reporter seriously is to see whether he/she paid attention to details and got them correct.
It’s also important to see what mistakes were made… and how they play into the story. Was it just a harmless mistake or something else?
Ian Bell in the Sunday Herald (Scotland) is trying to persuade the reader that Camp Quest is really a breeding group for atheists, despite what organizers say.
He makes a “mistake” that plays right into his thesis:
… It turns out that Quest is supported by a grant from the Richard Dawkins Foundation. So: “freethinking”, pure and untrammelled? Does Dawkins allow such a thing? Not that I’ve noticed. In fact, I can almost hear the voice in my head: “No well brought-up disbelieving child of mine is mixing with that bunch of puerile so-called atheists. A waste of money and thinking time.”
Richard Dawkins‘ foundation gave enough money to allow for two campers to attend Camp Quest in the UK. That’s it. He doesn’t run the camp. I don’t even think he shows up to any of them.
If Camp Quest had to rely solely on Dawkins’ support, they’d have shut down a long time ago. Dawkins is hardly “supporting” the camp.
Here’s another excerpt that was bothersome:
As to free-thinking, I’d be fascinated to know just how many of the youngsters at Quest freely agreed with the vacation choice made for them by their parents. Again, that’s not a joke. Clearly, some attempts to mould young minds are preferable to others. The problem rests, I think, with the urge to mould. And I suspect that many nice, thoughtful, middle-class children would be happier at arts camp or sports camp than at Stalag Luft Humanist.
I think that’s actually a fair question. Are the kids going voluntarily? Are they happy to be there?
However, the question reads like an accusation.
It would not be hard to find children who were forced to go to a Christian Bible camp and who had awful experiences there.
Camp Quest has been around since 1996. Many attendees are well into their teens (and beyond). I have never come across any account of a camper having a bad time at CQ. Indeed, if any children did not want to go, I can’t imagine any freethinking parents forcing them to attend.
Which means the insinuation that camp attendees are “inmates” at “Camp Godless” in the headline is ludicrous.
So far, I’d say Camp Quest has an excellent track record.
If Bell thinks the kids are getting indoctrinated, I urge him to visit a camp for a full week. I’m sure he’d be welcome. He can see for himself if what he’s writing is true. (Hint: It’s not.)
All he’s going off of is hearsay and headlines, neither of which have been very accurate lately.
(Thanks to Deanna for the link. Incidentally, she just picked up her kids from Camp Quest Smoky Mountains yesterday. She says the kids had a wonderful time.)