It’s summertime, and even here in secular New York City churches are advertising Vacation Bible Schools. Around the country, of course, religiously-affiliated summer camps are a familiar sign of the season; one Christian camp association alone has nearly 900 members.
Until fairly recently, though, atheist and agnostic parents did not have a summer camp for their kids. No more. The Washington Post reports on the phenomenon of the atheist summer camp, such as “Camp Quest,” a chain founded in 1996. The idea is to allow non-religious kids to mingle and have fun while avoiding religious influence. One very popular activity is the “Socrates Café,” where campers debate big questions like “What is Knowledge?” (Maybe Socrates was an atheist, after all).
Although Camp Quest has branches in Europe, the idea of a chain of atheist summer camps seems somehow uniquely American. In America, as many have pointed out, there is a free market in religion, with products for consumers of every conceivable stripe. Some of these consumers are the “Nones” – people who report no religious affiliation at all. In fact, “Nones” are now the third largest “religious” group in America, after Evangelicals and Catholics. A market niche just waiting to be served. – MLM