No Socialists at This Summer Camp

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

(Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series on summer camps that seek to advance a political agenda along with traditional camp activities. The first report focused on a summer camp with a liberal/socialist tilt.)

( - When it comes to choosing a summer camp for the kids, some parents care as much about political philosophy as they do about summer fun.

Some successful summer camps stress youth activism as a way of promoting the liberal agenda. On the other end of the spectrum, some camps base their programs on conservative ideals and principles.

Robert Welch University, located in Appleton, Wisc., runs several summer camps in the anti-Communist tradition of the John Birch Society, which the late Robert Welch founded.

Young adults (ages 14-19) are taught the same principles that have been part of American culture for 230 years, said Alan Scholl, the director of youth services and summer camps at Robert Welch University.

The principles taught at the Birch-influenced, week-long camps include "the idea that rights come from God; that our Constitution is a negative document intended to control government rather than people; and that people have God-given rights and that the role of government is simply to protect those rights," Scholl said.

Scholl indicated that such ideas don't meet with much resistance. "The vast majority of the young people that are there, want to be there," he said.

Campers include a "disproportionate" number of young people who are home-schooled or who attend Christian schools, he said. Many campers attend parochial or private schools, "but we have the whole spectrum," Scholl said. That includes children from America's inner cities as well as rural and farm communities.

Public high schools and college campuses "are awash in a sea of social agendas and political correctness," says the website for the Robert Welch University summer camps. "History has been rewritten, and classes rarely teach the principles of government upon which our nation was based."

Robert Welch summer camps are billed as the "solution" to that problem.

Aside from typical summer camp activities (swimming, hiking, horseback riding, etc.), the primary subject at camp, Scholl said, "is this concept of Americanism, the view that there is something good about this country."

Scholl said campers learn that it's important for them to participate in their government and to understand what the proper role of government is. "Good stewardship of their freedoms" and "responsibly" are stressed, he said.

So are subjects such as "accurate history," "government's proper role," "effective citizen participation," "unmasking dangerous legislation," and "the assault on morality."

"Hopefully," Scholl said, young people will transmit the lessons they learn at camp to their friends when they return home.

By promoting the concepts of individual liberty and limited government, Scholl hopes that campers "as they take their place in society, [will] vote intelligently [and] understand what a good candidate is for various offices, what they should be doing, what their Constitution's functions are."

Likewise, he hopes campers will learn to recognize "violations of those constitutional principles."

In contrast to the socialist activism taught at other summer camps (See Earlier Story: Political Summer Camps Cater to Extremes, 15 Mar. 2002), Scholl said Robert Welch University's summer camps strive to "teach the principles that young people need as they become adults to preserve our freedoms."

He said principles such as those upon which the Soviet Union was built "have been proven flawed and dangerous."