Letter from Camp Question


Dear Mom and Dad

First I am sorry that Jason and me burned down the house. It’s just that every summer you say it will be the last one grammie stays but then when June comes she is still alive.  You and dad had been talking for a long time about getting a bigger place and we figured that either the insurance on the house or that death benefit of grammie’s you and dad are always talking about would make life easier.  We were only trying to help.

By the way, did anyone ever find Pete the Python?

I am having a pretty good time here at Camp Question.  I know it’s a good idea for me to ask questions and think critically and not to be fooled or duped, but I do miss marshmallows and swimming like we had last year  at Camp Chippewa.

Today Tommy Braddock was caught telling a ghost story and was sent home with a letter to his stepfather.  It was his third year at camp and the head counselor said he should have known better.

We saw a film last night on crop circles.  The night before they showed a film on the Roswell aliens.  We learned that crop circles and the aliens are a load of crap.  I think crop circles are amazing but the aliens are a load of crap.

The night before that some guy did a powerpoint on the Loch Ness monster and said he could prove it was an otter.  Sarah Shilepki shouted “That’s one big fucking otter” and everyone laughed so hard that Sammy, the program director, told Sarah that if she ever said anything against critical thinking again she would be sent home with a letter to her stepmother.  It didn’t look like an otter. I almost peed I laughed so hard.

After lunch and on Sunday we have Anti-Prayer-in-School rallies.  We learned that “Under God” was not a part of the original pledge of allegiance and that America was a better country before it was introduced by a president named Eisenhaus (?).  David Eisenhaus said no Jew would do that and that all the really big wars and slavery and shit had come before God got into the pledge.  The ethics counselor said “So I guess Jews shouldn’t care if  Christians stick a nativity scene in front of a court house” and Davey says, “Frankly I don’t give a shit where they stick it,” and everyone laughed realllly hard, so the counselor said “And I guess you want to see the ten commandments in a classroom,” and Davey says “I go to the Hillel School, theyre already there but they’re in Hebrew so we can’t read them.”  Anyway the ethics counselor quit and said that all of us were fucking freaks.

We get lessons on science every day.  What we learn is that God didn’t make the world and that if there was a God the world would be better designed and not to believe anybody who sasy the world is designed. Especially religious people who we call “Duhs.”  I don’t really get that part–about how it’s not designed but is just awesome if it’s not designed because such an unawesome place can’t have been designed by a really awesome creator but I hope we’ll cover that tomorrow.

Science is kind of crap though because when Tom Slater asked the science counselor why a boat floats on the water he couldn’t tell us and Tommy said maybe it’s because at Camp Question we don’t have any boats or water.

We also have anti-magic shows here. They bring in a magician who pulls quarters out of your ear and makes match boxes disappear.  Then he kind of smiles and says, “You can’t always believe your eyes, can you?”

Rachel Goldman said “Can you make yourself disappear,” and he says “No.”  Then she says, “Can you make a hundred dollar bill appear in my left shoe right now because I’m trying to buy a Vespa?” and he said “No” and she said “Can you make Camp Question disappear because I think it Q R A P.”  I didn’t see Rachel at lunch.  We had a lecture on freedom of speech.

Anyway I really think I get the whole thing about evidence and not believing anything until you have reason to believe it.  The Leader of Camp Quest says it’s the basis of our whole democracy and the only way we can really lead a happy and fulfilling life.

At yesterday’s Fundamentals of Thinking Right he said “Question everything–accept nothing–demand proof, even if someone tells you the sun will rise tomorrow.  Ask him ‘How do you know that?'”  I think they should have sent Sol Jameson home when he grabbed Margie Talbert’s boobs and says let’s see ’em maybe you’re a dude but no one expected Margie to do it and Jesus she is no dude.  No way.

Anyway I have to go look at the stars and there’s a guy coming in to talk about how small the earth is. I asked our dorm assistant if it was about taking care of the planet and he said “Nah, just about how small the earth is.”

Anyway, I can’t wait to see you guys next week and I hope grammie gets out of the ICU really soon.  Let me know if anyone finds Pete.



7 thoughts on “Letter from Camp Question

  1. It is obvious that you disapprove of Camp Quest; it is also obvious that you know very little about Camp Quest, the counselors or the campers. The characters in your “straw man” mock letter are violent and do not consider others; not so Camp Quest campers. They are amazing, intelligent, caring and loving young people who look for ways to help themselves and others. And yes, they eat s’mores. However you will find that many will get in line for the vegan marshmallows because they have strong moral objections to hurting their fellow creatures. They know that the world is big enough for all of the life it contains! I believe that many educators would love to know our secrets. I find it refreshing when we have to “drag” our campers away from learning because they are immersed and don’t want to stop. How many summer camps offer plane rides with a zero gravity experience? Here is a heartfelt invitation – join us in Fort Lauderdale, FL the week of 12/25/09 through 1/1/10! It is our first Camp Quest in Florida and will be a family camp. Get to know our campers and their families. I promise you will find it impossible to knock us on any reasonable grounds. It is easy to set up the straw man and knock him over again. Let’s see if you have the courage to really get to know us before you knock us! By the way non-believers really have only one choice. They can openly acknowledge that they do not believe or they can stay “in the closet”. They have no choice about the fact of believing, if one doesn’t believe, then one doesn’t believe. Would you have us lie about it?
    Best Regards,

  2. It’s a satire. Lighten up. I’m sure Camp Quest isn’t as bad as Camp Question. You should teach them how to read irony.


    • Please, Dr. Hoffmann, forgive me for my childish sense of humor, which obviously has not developed beyond the level of an 8 year old.

      Which, by the way, is the age of the youngest members of our camping community.

      Of course, even at the tender age of 8, these campers are very skilled in the use of information technology. They will probably be LOL in no time. I think they will find my naive and unsophisticated response especially funny.

      Just in case there is an 8 year old out there who doesn’t understand satire, I am taking the liberty of posting the definition, lifted from the Meriam Webster online dictionary.

      Etymology:Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin satura, satira, perhaps from (lanx) satura dish of mixed ingredients, from feminine of satur well-fed; akin to Latin satis enough — more at sad
      1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
      2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
      synonyms see wit”

      Happy reading, kids! Remember, it isn’t personal.

      Best Regards,

      • I’m sorry that Camp “Question” was associated with Camp Quest, actually: it is rather a satire on another freethought camp that I know a LOT more about

  3. Dr. Hoffmann-

    Fran does not speak for Camp Quest, and her opinions are hers alone and do not represent the views of Camp Quest organizers.

    On the other hand as Camp Director I do speak for Camp Quest of Michigan, and would like to invite you to visit our camp, which takes place this August 17 – 23. This is of course extremely short notice, but I think our campers would benefit greatly by your expert insights into the origins of the Jesus tradition. (I eagerly await publication of same.)


    Len Zanger
    director, CQMI
    c. 248-330-5061
    h. 248=334-7094

  4. Hilariously side splittingly funny. AAs are a bit like innocent kiddies celebrating misbehaving. They know nuffink about religion because it’s in Hebrew, but in the safety of the group, they pride themselves on epitomising critical enquiry and free thinking without recognising the freedom they possessed before they became so angry. Hell hath no fury like an atheist scorned, evil as Eden’s snake. Watch out, it comes back to bite! Congregating round the Fire with Insolence.

  5. Actually, Dr Hoffmann, if you are still considering the above invitations, you might also like to consider a third. However on this camp there are no other campers and it’s more of a tramp. No marshmellows, no plane rides, but there are flocks of colourful tuneful birds, and while it’s advisable to prepare for your own chocolate fix by filling compartments in your backpack, there are plenty of trout to be hooked if you’re not vegan. You won’t see another soul for a week, and it’s all about peace and clean air. It’s free, Lake Waikaremoana, but the secret is how to get there.


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