The Summer Camp Struggle: Bible Study or Bust?

My kids got me thinking today.

They came home with a brochure for summer camp and said they wanted to spend a week at overnight camp. I thought that sounded like a great idea! I went to overnight camp, I was a little older than them, but more sheltered, I think they would do great. So I looked into this camp and it all seemed great, it wasn’t even that expensive. Until I read the sample daily schedule. So. Much. Religion.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally respectful of any belief (as long as it’s not encroaching on my own rights). I grew up going to church every Sunday, spending a couple nights a week participating in church activities, the whole nine yards. My oldest friend and I became friends at overnight Christian camp, and we are still close over a decade later. I met my husband at church and we started dating during a weekend youth group retreat. Church was a huge part of my life and definitely put me on the path to where I am now. But not the religion, not the beliefs, just the people who happen to also be there, and most of the time, not by choice.

As an adult, I’m a definitive atheist. I struggle to explain religion to my children. They are exposed to it in so many ways and I want to answer their questions as objectively as possible. I don’t want to tell them “God isn’t real,” whenever they mention it. While I can still recite bible verses word for word, and I still know entire hymns by heart, I don’t believe in it anymore. That’s my belief, and I don’t want to push that on them. A phrase I use often when we discuss it is “some people believe…” It gives them space to come to their own conclusions.

I want my children to think for themselves, and to do the right thing because it is the right thing, not out of fear or the other negative feelings I’ve felt from growing up in a church-centered home.

I’m really struggling over sending them to a camp that is going to require them to participate in bible study but I wonder if not sending them for that reason is equally hypocritical. Unfortunately, the options are limited to what we can afford and what is in the area. It’s church camp or no camp.

What would you do? How do you (or will you) approach religion with your children? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll update you on our decision!

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