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Camp Quest Update.
Despite some (no, make that a lot) of rain, Camp Quest was a tremendous success this year. We had 18 campers (8 boys and 10 girls) who were evenly matched by age. We had seven kids who were 8-9 years old (3 boys and 4 girls) and three who were 14-16 years old. The latter served as Counselors in Training (CITs) and helped us with the younger campers while also participating in the camp themselves. The CITs, plus the fact that we had an absolutely fantastic group of kids, along with top notch counselors made for a fantastic camp experience.

Some of the campers’ many highlights included: seeing deer, a bear, a timber rattlesnake, a water snake, and plenty of interesting birds and insects; helping band and release some birds with the Tremont research task; salamandering twice (on our second salamander hunt the campers captured a beautiful orange one with black spots); learning to walk on stilts; philosophizing at Socrates Café; horseback riding in Cades Cove; hiking to a waterfalls; swimming in the West Prong river; making a solar balloon; code-breaking; moon-gazing through telescopes; taking a late night walk without flashlights; camping in tents one night; writing songs; writing and putting on skits; and participating in other logic or cooperation challenges.

What truly made Camp Quest a success, however, were all the campers’ statements of genuine appreciation that a camp exists where they can discuss their beliefs in a safe environment with other like-minded kids. So many of the campers indicated they feel they must keep their skepticism to themselves around even good friends and family. At Camp Quest, the campers regularly strike up conversations about atheism or discrimination and how it can be tough to be accepted sometimes. We counselors hear these discussions year after year and continue to be amazed at the strength of these kids. We’re invigorated by them and have set a goal to increase camper number yet again next year.

I’d like to express special thanks to volunteers who support the Camp. Thanks to Julie Rogish, Roy Crawford, and Dale Haste for visits as a back-up counselors, Lee Erikson for his astronomy lesson, and Sharron King, Donna Maxwell, and Margaret Klein for being on call as back-ups. Huge thanks of course go to Jonas Holdemann who coordinated with Tremont, updated and revised many materials, bought all the supplies, handled all the applications, and did so much more to make CQSM go as smoothly as it did.

Next year, Jonas, Julie, and myself will be running CQSM without Amanda Metskas on site. Amanda’s job is to support all of the various Camp Quests and is quite busy year round with that. She helped us these last two years transitioning the camp director role from Carl and Aleta Ledendecker. Her experience in actually running a camp full time and her incredible organizational skills were much appreciated. Carl and Aleta would have been so proud of this years camp and I’m sure are going to be very proud of how the camp will continue to evolve and grow.

Two things critical for success next year are: (1) at least one more male counselor and (2) financial support. The three new full-time counselors (Jessi, Caroline, and Kylia) were fabulous and we hope to get them back next year. However, myself and Jonas have our hands full with directing the camp and will absolutely need another full-time male counselor. If anybody would like to volunteer let me know. If not, please ask around. The perk is a free week in the Smoky Mountains with great staff and campers. We’d like to get some completed applications sent to us this year. Secondly, Tremont has increased their rates and we absolutely don’t want to raise our prices. In fact, we’d like to lower ours so we can make the camp more accessible to more people. This can only be done by fundraising and donations to subsidize the cost. The CQSM website has a link for anyone willing to donate even a small amount.


If I left people off who also deserve thanks, I apologize. Now, off to mow my tall grass.


Posted by dbuck
Aug. 03, 2009