Several years ago, Neil Polzin was kicked out of the Boy Scouts of America — despite being an Eagle Scout — because he was an atheist.
Shawn Jeffers left the BSA in 2002 after coming out as both gay and atheist. He’s an Eagle Scout, too.
These are both guys who would love to give back to the Boy Scouts but are prohibited from doing so due to policies barring gay adults from leading troops and out atheists from having any association whatsoever with the scouts.
But both of them are now helping run Camp Quest, the summer camp for children of atheist parents. Jeffers is Chair of the Board, while Polzin serves as Vice Chair.
“Camp Quest is a place where kids develop independence, have fun, and make friends. They learn critical thinking skills alongside traditional camp-craft. It combines the best of what I got from being in the Boy Scouts with inclusive policies promoting empathy, open questioning, and integrity,” Neil Polzin said.
“Although many factors likely contribute to both the Boy Scouts decline and Camp Quest’s growth, it seems fair to say that, as the percentage of non-religious Americans grows and the cause of LGBT equality advances, BSA policies are becoming increasingly out of step with real American values,” Shawn Jeffers said. “Camp Quest fills that gap for more and more families.”
“The Boy Scouts of America’s continued discrimination against gays and atheists is detestable, but certainly in the case of Shawn and Neil their loss is Camp Quest’s gain,” Amanda Metskas, Camp Quest Executive Director, said.
I have the pleasure of knowing several people who have gone to, volunteered with, or help manage Camp Quest. It’s one of the few groups I know that always seems to get positive press because of what they do for kids. It’s a life-changing experience, as many of the various camps’ attendees will tell you. Any donations you can send in their direction would go a long way.