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The National Post on union kids' camps: Threat or menace?

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Professor Troy Glover

Confession time: Years ago I sat on the board of a church camp.

I sent my kids there. One year one of my daughters was a counsellor at the camp.

And at that camp, they taught those kids … and here comes the confession part … Christian doctrine!

Real Christian doctrine, too, stuff right out of the Bible about helping the poor, kindness to the imprisoned and letting he who is without sin cast the first stone.

This is not the sort of thing the raw-meat fundies who support the Wildrose Party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's so-called Conservatives think of as being Christian at all. The Bronze Age rigours of the Old Testament are more to their taste.

Anyway, there wasn't all that much doctrine at that camp, in fact. I think the kids there spent most of their time canoeing, getting sunburns, eating marshmallows until they threw up and making lame crafts they took home and left lying around their houses until their moms quietly tossed them out. Plus, they all got a T-shirt, on which I got a deal for the camp from a unionized shirt supplier.

I have to say, I never saw much difference, good or bad, in my kids' behaviour when they got home. Just the same, and there's just no way to get around this, you'd have to call the Christian doctrine that camp taught those children … ideology!

Well, what’s the big deal about that, you wonder? As kids, lots of us had to suffer through summer camps our parents thought would improve us. And lots of us snuck out of evening prayers and necked with some other kid from the church in Burnaby or Aldergrove behind one of the cabins, which for many of us was first time we really gave any serious thought to the doctrine of turning the other cheek.

Well, I only mention this because the National Post has made the discovery that -- oh my gosh!!! -- some unions have kids' camps too!

Unions! And you know what that means! Ideology!

"At these summer camps, ideology doesn't take a holiday," barked the headline over the story by the appropriately named Kathryn Blaze Carlson.

Holy cow! Carlson informs us that not only are union members sending their kids to camps where they might watch a movie with Jack Layton in it instead of Jack Nicholson, but there are summer kids' camps run by environmentalists (which as we should all know by now is tantamount to treason in Harper's Canada), and even camps operated by … wait for it … vegans! (Editor’s Note: You've used up your quota of exclamation points. Just stop it!)

Now, the mainstream media always strives for balance, so Carlson was also scrupulous to mention in passing that there are Tea Party camps south of the Medicine Line too. But really, you can sense from the tone of the article that's basically OK with the Great Friends of Free Speech who run the National Post, because at least there the children would learn something useful -- you know, like firing a MAC-10.)

Getting back to the horror, the horror, of union kids' camps -- for gosh sake, the Alberta Federation of Labour has one, and now the Canadian Union of Public Employees has started one too -- Carlson trots out an expert named Troy Glover from something called the Canadian Summer Camp Research Project who explained, "this is how you indoctrinate youth -- you get them involved in fun activities and you teach them a message on the side."

Goodness, the next thing you know, these children might be influenced into becoming the kind of grownups who stand up for their rights in the workplace, make lousy consumers of poorly made foreign-sourced electronic trinkets or, worse, turn into vegans so serious they won't eat anything that casts a shadow. (Sorry, stolen joke. Cultural artifact.)

Carlson intones: "Parents who enjoy hockey or the ballet take their children to NHL games or the Nutcracker.* Catholic mothers and fathers take their children to church, Jews to synagogue, Muslims to the mosque. Is sending a child to an ideological camp simply an extension of that sort of natural parental influence, or is it inappropriate?" (Emphasis added.)

Union kids' camps? Threat or menace? Well, of course it's inappropriate, and Carlson has an expert to explain that too. She had to go a long way to find him -- which proves the Post is serious about getting to the bottom of this dreadful stuff.

"'Parents want their children to hang out with kids whose parents think like them -- it's a natural gravitation,' said Frank Furedi, a sociologist at the University of Kent in Britain. 'If you take your values seriously, you'll want to influence your child. This is just an extreme version of that.'" (Emphasis added again.)

Just as we thought … extremists. (Editor's Note: Oh, go ahead, you can use more exclamation points. This is harder to stop than I thought.)

Thanks! Extremists! Now, where was I? Oh yeah… "Mr. Furedi said not only is there 'something weird' about these camps, but they could deepen the societal divisions that already exist. And Mr. Glover said he is simply 'uncomfortable' at the idea of camps where children could be ostracized for going against the ideological grain," Carlson explains.

Speaking of deepening societal divisions, it must have taken great restraint for Carlson not to use the term "class war." So have you got that? It's not just weird to teach children that working together can be effective, it's divisive. It leads to class war! Just like that Tom Mulcair guy and his dangerous discourse on Dutch Disease.

And that's why union camps are bad. Ditto vegan camps. And especially environmental camps, which are not only dangerous but drain the precious resources of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, because we'll all have to pay for the CSIS agents' mosquito repellent, marshmallows and overtime though our taxes, which are already way too high of course.

So just stop it people! Don't send your kids to union camps! Just say no!

Send them to a church camp, where they'll never be ostracized for going against the ideological grain.

Well, maybe a bit. And they might get lucky, which would also be bad. But at least they'll never get leaflets!

*Actually, lots of parents who enjoy hockey and dancing can’t afford NHL games or the ballet. But they don't teach that at Camp National Post, apparently.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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