CQNW 2016 Camp Session Recap!

[The following is a post from Camp Quest NorthWest volunteer Philip Cole, recapping our recent week spent at camp. – Mike]


Camp Director Chuck gets ready to introduce the first skit performance of the evening.

The campers have all headed home, Camp Kirby is being boarded up for the off season, and the counselors are slowly getting back to their normal lives.

This year’s theme was Camp Quest NorthWest: School of Wisdom and Wonder, which was very loosely based on a best-selling book series about a school for witches and wizards, and this theme was incorporated into multitude of events and activities.

The week started off with a Sorting and Exploration activity where campers were divided into their house groups by the camp’s own “Sorting Cat.” The campers then had a chance to explore the camp grounds, complete various challenges, and to learn a bit about their house groups and the freethinkers that they were named for, including:

  • House Curieus – Named for chemist Marie Curie and representing the Camp Quest value of critical thinking.
  • House Darwindar – Named for naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin and representing community.
  • House Douglassi – Named for abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass, representing the value of integrity.
  • House Kahlopaw – Named for Frida Kahlo, painter and activist, and representing creativity.
  • House Lee – Named for martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, representing empathy.

Campers were challenged both mentally and physically throughout the week with various activities and competitions. A few activities returned this year: Socrates Café, Marine Biology, and Human Ancestry, but we also brought on many new programs that complimented the camp’s theme. These included Divination, Horoscopes and Telling the Future to teach campers to recognize cold reading techniques, Communicating Through the Aether which gave campers a chance to try out various forms of verbal and non-verbal communication tools, and Invisible Alchemy to teach chemistry led by our very own Camp Director, Chuck Wolber.

Of course, our standard battery of awesome afternoon activities returned as well, including rock wall climbing, archery, kayaking and swimming. We even introduced a new game called Squiddich (think of a combination of dodgeball and capture the flag) that the entire camp enjoyed playing.

Each night we had special all-camp activities that included a talent show, skits, a dance, and a special all camp event that took campers back to the time of the dinosaurs. Some of you may have heard that we brought in a ringer for the evening campfires. In addition to the normal camp songs that are half yelled and half sung off-key, Shelley Segal serenaded both campers and counselors alike with her amazing music. It might have been the only time all week where every camper was quiet at the same time!

We think this was one of the best camp sessions we have had yet and are already hard at work planning next year’s program. There is already a theme proposed for next year, and programming ideas are starting to flow. The board has identified a few options for adding capacity for next season, and details regarding that will be released as soon as they are confirmed.

A large number of you have expressed interest in helping out with Camp Quest. We realize that not everyone can (or wants to) take a week off from work and be a counselor, but that’s not the only way you can help the organization. If you are interested, you can get involved in the following ways:

  1. If you order from amazon.com, point your browser to smile.amazon.com, and select “Camp Quest Inc.” in Federal Way as your charity of choice. 0.5% of your purchase amount will be automatically donated to CQNW, and it won’t cost you a single penny extra.
  2. Come to the board meetings: The board meetings are always open to the public, and dates are posted on the website in the meeting minutes. We meet at the Round Table Pizza in Burien, WA, and our next meeting is scheduled for September 15th at 6:30 PM.
  3. Volunteer to be on a committee. We have formed many committees in the past year, in an effort to spread the work out more evenly. There is the staffing committee, which interviews and vets prospective counselors; the grants committee, which decides how to distribute camperships and travel grants; and the programming committee, which is responsible for coming up with just about all of the planned activities your campers participate in at camp. We are always looking to expand the number of volunteers involved in these committees. The time commitment is up to you and may be as little as 10 hours per year.
  4. Attend the programming retreat. Every winter, we gather for a weekend away that is full of fun and planning, where we develop the programming, try out new activities, and generally have a good time. All are welcome, as long as you come willing to work!
  5. Of course, no list asking for help would be complete without mentioning that cash donations are always accepted, and needed! We are a registered 501(c)(3) organization, and all donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you to all of you who have supported Camp Quest Northwest, and thank you for giving us the opportunity to meet your campers and watch them grow up.

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Camp Quest NorthWest 2016 Quilt Auction

pjimage-2At our 2015 Oregon and Washington camp sessions we enlisted the help of our campers to design and paint the fabric squares that you see on these quilts. After camp, our extraordinary volunteer quartermaster Sharon used those designs as the basis for these six handmade quilts.

We are auctioning these quilts to raise money for Camp Quest NorthWest. Proceeds from this auction will be added to the camp general fund and will go towards funding camp scholarships, programming supplies, camp operations, and capital expenses. This is your chance to own a piece of CQNW history. Each of these quilts is approximately 30-38 inches wide by 38-44 inches long. They are designed to be hung on the wall, and should be washed minimally.

We have numbered the quilts from 1-6. Bidding for these one-of-a-kind keepsakes will start at $200 each. You can send your bids now to auction@campquestnorthwest.org. Please include the specific quilt you are bidding on and your bid amount.

These quilts were on display during registration and will be displayed again again during camper pick up on Saturday, August 20th. We will continue to accept bids through August 31st at midnight. We’ll be posting the details of this auction on our facebook page, in our staff and volunteer groups, and on our website. We’ll try and post regular updates about the current top bids to our facebook page.

Once the auction ends, the highest bidder for each quilt will be notified and we will arrange payment. Once payment is received, we’ll ship or deliver the quilt to you. Payment deadline will be September 30th. After that date, the quilt will be awarded to the next highest bidder.

Thanks again for your continued support of Camp Quest NorthWest!

Remember, send your bids to auction@campquestnorthwest.org !!


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Welcome to Camp Quest NorthWest School of Wisdom and Wonder


The following letter was delivered to campers a few weeks prior to camp to introduce them to the camp theme.


Headmaster Dumblechuck
(Order of Darwin – First Class, Grand Calamari of Architeuthis, Supreme Geoduck,
Proclaimer of Chicken and Cheesus, Lackluster Warbler, and Camp Director)

Dear Camper,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Camp Quest NorthWest School of Wisdom and Wonder.

Term begins on August 14th. Students shall be required to report to Platform √-1 at Camp Quest NorthWest on Samish Island between the hours of one o’clock and three o’clock in the afternoon. Your seagull will deliver additional details to your family including directions to camp and a list of all necessary supplies.

We very much look forward to welcoming you as we begin this magical chapter in Camp Quest history.

Yours Sincerely,

Mike Warbingtonagall

Deputy Headmaster


Camp Quest NorthWest School of Wisdom and Wonder will explore the science and reason that underly the seemingly magical world around us.

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Reflections on the Reason Rally, Part 2

[The following is a follow up to the earlier post from Camp Quest NorthWest volunteer Bridget Lombardo, reflecting on her experiences from her trip to the other Washington for the Reason Rally earlier earlier this month. – Mike]


His Flying Noodliness pictured with the Washington Monument.

I feel the need to put mention that, as was expected, there were a handful of protesters in attendance at the Reason Rally, each to their own degree of irritating. After my last shift as a volunteer ended I changed out of my shirt indicating my status as a volunteer and walked around, interacting with a wide variety of people, including three young women who were passing out Bible tracts. I saw what they were doing from a distance and thought “Why? Why are these people so compelled to interfere with our ONE day?”

The thought became so consuming that I needed to ask. They explained that they felt it was their Christian duty to let us know that Jesus loves us. I told them that we are told this on a regular basis; A good number of us were raised in the church, we hear it every day, and in some parts of the country we can’t escape it. Religious individuals are allowed to meet as a community and worship as often as they want, in any way they want. It’s built into our Constitution. No one is denying them that right. No one is telling them they shouldn’t exist or gather as they choose. What is the religious compulsion to interfere the moment a group of atheists forms?

I posed this hypothetical situation for them, in an attempt to get them to understand: “Imagine you are entering your place of worship and there are people standing outside, holding signs and handing out information about why you are evil and shouldn’t be allowed to exist as you are. Imagine that you have to fight your way to the door. Where do you think I would be in that situation? Do you see me as a protester, or would I be defending you?” They all I imagined I would be protesting. “Nope, I would be defending your right to worship, because no one, and I do mean no one, has the right to tell anyone else how or who or what to worship. The moment someone is telling others how to worship, or preventing them from worshiping, we’ve entered a theocracy, and it goes against everything I stand for. And I can guarantee that the majority of the people here would agree with me.” I was lucky to have a few eavesdroppers chime in their agreement. “We just want that same kind of respect from the religious side, give us our one day to gather without protest.”

Two of the women tried to continue to argue. However, I noticed a spark in the eye of the third woman right before she walked away. Maybe she saw the error of their ways (this is what I like to hope), or maybe she just got sick of talking to me (this is really the most likely situation). Either way, I hope I had an impact and they all think twice the next time they have an opportunity like this one.

As this encounter indicates, being secular in this country is never easy, especially when religion is so heavily invested in politics during an election year, and it’s important to find the community that supports you, which is another reason why camp is so valuable, to give the campers and staff alike a place to exist in a world devoid of the constant religious presence. A safe place to explore their philosophies and to learn the kind of arguments they will hear and how to counter them, and more importantly, what kinds of arguments aren’t worth engaging.

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Camp Quest NorthWest Summer Update

The 2016 Camp Quest NorthWest session is fast approaching. There are two board meetings scheduled before the start of camp. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, July 19th at the Round Table Pizza in Burien at 6:30 PM. This will be followed by a final camp planning meeting on Tuesday, August 2nd at the same time and location. All volunteers are welcome to attend!

We are still looking for volunteers to fill positions at camp, including male cabin counselors. We are also looking for someone with a medical background to act as an assistant and/or backup to the camp medic. Visit the Staff page for more information about how to apply to join us at camp!

As a reminder, volunteers will be expected to arrive at Camp Kirby after 1:00 PM on Saturday, August 13th. Campers are expected to be dropped off at Camp Kirby between 1:00 and 3:00 PM on Sunday, August 14th. Camper pickup will be between 10:00 and 11:59 AM on Saturday, August 20th. Volunteers will depart Sunday Morning, August 21st.

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