Tea party summer camp is ridiculous

By Vince DeFrancesco, COLUMNIST
On June 30, 2011

Summer camp is in some ways a staple of the American psyche and pop culture. One need look no further than Nickelodeon's television series "Salute Your Shorts" or "American Pie Presents: Band Camp" for wide-ranging examples.

As a result of summer camps' prevalence in culture, many students might have an idealized vision of the experience. It is not likely, though, that many could have envisioned this.

From July 11-15, the Tampa 912 Project is running a "Tampa Liberty School" tea party summer camp at a local Christian school on 56th Street. It aims to teach impressionable 8- to 12-year-olds the values of the tea party movement - having "fun while learning the principles of liberty, free markets and limited government," according to its event page on meetup.com.

That's just what every school child wants to do over summer vacation, right? On its face, the camp doesn't seem too outlandish - but wait for the details.

The St. Petersburg Times reported on some of the activities available to the campers. The first keys in on the tired refrain that Europe is some drab haven of socialism. The second is a critique of socialist economic policy. Marlene Sokol wrote in the Times: "Starting in an austere room where they are made to sit quietly, symbolizing Europe, the children will pass through an obstacle course to arrive at a brightly decorated party room (the New World).

Red-white-and-blue confetti will be thrown. But afterward the kids will have to clean up the confetti, learning that with freedom comes responsibility."

In another example, children blow bubbles from one bottle of solution and try to pop as many bubbles as possible. Then, they get their own solution to pop bubbles with in an exercise meant to promote individual freedom and decry socialism, according to the Times.

Take a step back for a moment to September 2009,when President Barack Obama gave a speech to America's schoolchildren emphasizing hard work, goal setting and responsibility. Fox News ran one headline that read "Critics Decry Obama's ‘Indoctrination' Plan for Students."

If hard work and responsibility are tenants of an indoctrination plan, what are games teaching children to hate socialistic principles?

Imagine for a second that someone decided to open a "Comradeship School," a summer camp designed to teach children that capitalist CEOs are intent on stealing their lunch money. Imagine the headlines on Fox.

The "Tampa Liberty School" is a symptom of a harsh political climate in which extreme voices have control. It is a climate where moderate Republican Charlie Crist is succeeded by Gov. Rick Scott. Unfortunately, many children are going to miss out on the opportunity to form their own opinions because of the times they grew up in and this tea party camp in particular.

Vince DeFrancesco is a senior majoring in mass communications.

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