Each morning at Camp Constitution’s summer camp, the kids and parents go off to classes while staff members do a room inspection.
“What we look for is not just cleanliness, but a patriotic and Godly theme,” says camp director Hal Shurtleff in a video of the 2016 camp.
“We are looking for creativity — are they learning what we are teaching them?”
And what are they being taught? Conspiracy theories about the United Nations (UN) and how climate change is a hoax, and they’ve drafted in two of the world’s most notorious climate science denialists to do the job.
The rooms — named after “places of refuge in the old testament” — are covered with U.S. nationalistic garlands and flags. A “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat is perched on a wooden bunk post.
Children take quotes they’ve learned from classes, and turn them into posters. One encourages the United Nations to keep out.
Another lists “buzzwords” including CO2, climate change, environmental justice, and endangered species.
“You hear these buzzwords and you know the bad guys are behind the scenes,” says a commentating Shurtleff.
Shurtleff is a former regional director of the John Birch Society — the UN-hating, right-wing conservative group known for, among other things, pushing a conspiracy that the UN’s promotion of environmental sustainability was in fact a sinister plot to install a world government.
But as well as learning about the evils of sensible resource use, the kids at this summer’s Camp Constitution attended classes by climate science deniers Lord Christopher Monckton and Dr. Willie Soon.
In an interview on conspiracy-loving Infowars, Shurtleff said how Soon had spoken to campers the previous year and would “bring his whole family” to the event at Lakeside Christian Camp and Conference Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
At the camp’s 2017 event, Soon gave a talk claiming that the sun was controlling the world’s climate, and dismissing the role of CO2. NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt has been among the scientists to carefully unpick Soon’s claims, describing his scientific contributions as “singularly poor.”
In 2018, the camp schedule shows Soon was to give two talks — one about the “climate change hoax” and another that attempted to undermine the measurements showing sea levels around the world are rising, and how that rise is accelerating.
Research from Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center has shown Soon’s work to be heavily funded by fossil fuel industry interests, including more than $1 million from ExxonMobil, Southern Company, American Petroleum Institute, and Charles G. Koch Foundation.
Also on the agenda was former John Birch Society president John “Jack” McManus, who told the youngsters, some who stay with their parents, how the U.S. should “Get Us Out of the United Nations” while explaining his full anti-UN “world governement” conspiracy theory. He even sold them a booklet for the discounted price of $2.
Eccentric British climate science denier, Lord Christopher Monckton, was also at the camp to regale the kids with tales of how climate change science is one big con-job.
Monckton has been claiming for about two years to have discovered a fatal flaw in climate science (the world’s temperature gauges and polar ice don’t seem to have gotten Monckton’s memo) and he did not spare the youngsters any detail with a slideshow chock full of formulas.
While Monckton might sound like he knows what he’s talking about, actual climate scientists have long-debunked his claims.
In 2015, scientists looked at one of his very few scientific papers to make it into the peer-reviewed literature and found it was “riddled with errors” — and published a response in the same journal.
Camp Constitution’s Facebook page shows Monckton sitting down for a meal with some of the young campers, perhaps to discuss the themes of liberty and freedom of speech.
You have to wonder if he told them about the various people he’s threatened to sue or have arrested (none of the threats ever seem to materialize) for saying or doing things he didn’t like.
All in the spirit of freedom, of course!
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Main image: A screenshot of Lord Christopher Monckton speaking to young campers at Camp Constitiution in August 2018. DeSmog has blurred the faces of the young people.