This story was originally published in Newsweek. Reprinted with permission.

The battle over evolution is moving beyond the court room and into summer camp. The Christian Camp and Conference Association said 50 percent of the member camps--which include summer camps and year-round after-school programs reaching 6 million kids every year--have a science curriculum about God's creation. A Christian camping environment "allows us to bring kids to a wonder­ful knowledge of what's going on in creation and in God's web of life," said John Ashmen, the group's vice president. At the summer camp at Timber-lee Christian Center in East Troy, Wisc., for example, campers can go on a seven-room "Creation Walk" which where each room showcases one of the Bible's seven days of creation. Says Karen Good, outdoor education director at Timber-lee, "The curricu­lum is designed to open their eyes so when they go back to school [and hear about evolution] they say, 'Oh, that sounds goofy!'"


Other camps are fighting back by offering summer programs teaching evolution. In late June, the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno, Calif., sponsored the fourth season of Chalice Camp, a science camp that uses song, dance, and drama to teach children about scientific discoveries about human origins. This is the inaugural season of Camp Inquiry, a week-long camp for children 7 to 16 in western New York. For the camp's Natural History Day, the 25 campers will participate in the "Creationism vs. Evolution" challenge, where they'll go on a nature hike to learn about adaptation and evo­lution, take plasters casts of animal tracks to start a discussion of how humans are related to certain animal lines, and study the argu­ments against "intelligent design." Camp Quest, an atheist camp with several branches throughout the U.S., teaches campers about evo­lution, as well on beekeeping, astronomy, and the separation of church and state. "Our sense is that evolution isn't being taught enough [in schools] or that people are becoming afraid to teach it," said Chris Lindstrom, director of Camp Quest West.
Research shows that even camps that don't have a particular spiritual mission might still increase spirituality in children: A 2005 American Camp Association study found parents notice a statistical­ly significant increase in children's spirituality levels after attending camp. Getting the kids outdoors apparently makes them appreciate nature and wonder who or what created it.

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