The secular summer camp. It's beyond belief!
Camp Quest is the first residential summer camp in the history of the United States for the children of Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Brights, or whatever other terms might be applied to those who hold to a naturalistic, not supernatural world view.
The purpose of Camp Quest is to provide children of freethinking parents a residential summer camp dedicated to improving the human condition through rational inquiry, critical and creative thinking, scientific method, self-respect, ethics, competency, democracy, free speech, and the separation of religion and government guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.
Currently Camp Quest, Inc., an independent 501(c)(3) educational non-profit, operates the Ohio Camp Quest and works to coordinate with and support the other independently governed Camp Quest programs. Five summer camps, and now one winter camp, currently offer Camp Quest programs in the U.S., with one in Canada, and one in the UK.
Camp Quest, Inc.
P.O. Box 2552
Columbus, OH 43216
NJHN sponsors the Harley A. Brown Fund for Camp Quest, in honor of our founder and first President, Harley Brown (see bottom of this page), for the purpose of offering Camperships to families who may need financial assistance for their children to attend. We will give first consideration to New Jersey families, however, all applications are welcome.
NJHN ESTABLISHES CAMP QUEST FUND
IN HONOR OF OUR FOUNDER, HARLEY A. BROWN
Announced on December 21, 2003
on the occasion of HumanLight 2003
Parsippany, New Jersey
There are many reasons to celebrate today. Of those, one that I've anticipated with the most pleasure is this recognition of a person who has had a powerful and positive effect on the lives of so many New Jersey Humanists, many of whom are in this room today.
There are several reasons for the impact he has made. First is his personal vision of a Humanist community that provides human connections for those who often feel isolated in a sea of religious triumphalism and intolerance. This has given direction and stability to the New Jersey Humanist Network.
Second is his ability to organize people--putting them into the positions where they can do the most good. Among the qualities of an effective leader, this is one of the most important.
Third is the incredible personal effort he has put forth over the years, taking responsibility for doing anything that had to be done for the benefit of NJHN.
Harley Brown founded the New Jersey Humanist Network in 1994, and built it from a tiny group meeting in members' homes to an organization with dozens of active members and hundreds of supporters. Along the way, he has edited the bulletin, arranged for speakers and meeting space, organized fundraising and community service efforts, coordinated publicity, acted as spokesperson for the group, and served as President from the time the office was established until July of 2003.
An accomplished choral singer, Harley initiated a program of Humanist music ranging from a competitive music contest to commissioned choral works. This tradition will be continued in 2004, when the Lehigh Valley Gay Men's Chorus will perform an original Humanist choral piece at our Fall Concert, currently in the planning stage. Details on this event will be announced in our bulletin in the coming months.
One refreshing and unique path that Harley took for NJHN was not to pledge exclusive allegiance to any one national organization claiming to espouse "True Humanism" or "Correct Non-Belief." He saw the value in leaving it up to our individual members to make those decisions for themselves, and moved NJHN toward a plan to provide a true network of available information on all organizations and their activities.
As a result, NJHN is affiliated with several national organizations and we plan to add more as appropriate opportunities present themselves. On the local level, we are reaching out to nearby organizations with similar aims and interests with the objectives of sharing program, financial and structural resources, expanding membership and improving the Humanist experience for all.
Today, our organization is vibrant and growing, and we have ambitious plans for the future. Though many minds and hands have participated, we recognize the signal importance of the contribution made by Harley Brown to our success. For this reason, we would like Harley to come forward to receive a token of our appreciation for his vision, leadership and effort.
One of the most important characteristics of a successful organization is its ability to attract young members and supporters. For Humanist organizations, this requires educating young people in the areas of critical thinking, Humanist ethics and values. Recently, the NJHN Board of Directors voted to support an organization that does just that: Camp Quest.
Camp Quest provides campers aged 8-13 and counselors-in-training aged 14-18 with traditional activities such as swimming, archery, canoeing, and crafts such as tie-dyeing, paper-making, and needlepoint. Campers also experience such unconventional camp activities as rock-climbing, a fossil hunt, a ropes challenge course, and rides in a hot-air balloon.
The highlight of the experience, however, is its emphasis on critical thinking skills. Campers are exposed to the wonders of evolution and the scientific method, the complexities of code-breaking, the merits of creative thinking in a world where creativity is often stifled, the importance of diversity and acceptance of other's differences through discussions, and the mind-building skills of debating the existence of invisible unicorns on the camp premises -- the reward for proving their existence remains unclaimed to date.
The only drawback--Camp Quest is expensive, especially considering travel expenses to Ohio, Tennessee or Michigan. To assist families with camp fees, the New Jersey Humanist Network will raise funds sufficient to send one or more children to Camp Quest each summer.
Harley, in recognition of your many years of dedication and visionary leadership to the Humanist community of New Jersey, on this 21st day of December 2003, the New Jersey Humanist Network announces the establishment of the Harley A. Brown Fund for Camp Quest. This Fund will provide annual registration support for the children of New Jersey humanists, atheists and freethinkers to attend the Camp Quest of their choice.
A formal announcement of the Harley Fund will appear in our January NJHN Bulletin, as well as on our website at njhn.org, and we can accept tax-deductible donations immediately. Applications for campership assistance will also be available and our first Harley Fund recipients will be announced in the Spring of 2004.
To make a tax-deductible donation to the Fund for Camp Quest, please follow this link: donations.html.
Here is a replica of the certificate given to Harley Brown: