The blog has been a little quiet lately. Don’t worry, there is a lot going on and we hope to be able to tell you some details early next week. The reason that it has been quiet is that two of the principles of the Institute have been busy teaching classes at Camp American. Next year we hope to entice more of our board to teach at camp.
Camp American is a one-week Christian worldview camp for ages 12 and up. The biblical basis of American government, history and economics are the focus of the camp curriculum. This is an excellent match for the Institute For Principled Policy since some of our stated aims is to effect public policy through scholarship, research and public speaking and engagement (see the About Us page for more about the Institute). Ninety-nine people- 59 campers and 40 counselors, speakers and staff were in attendance. For the third year the core curriculum was the Institute On The Constitution’s 12 part DVD based class with Dr. John Eidsmoe presenting the providential history, Christian faith and philosophy and nuts-and-bolts workings of the United States and the Constitution. These classes were taught by Chuck Michaelis, the Vice-chairman of the Institute For Principled Policy, and Barry Sheets the Director of the Institute. These two worked either in tandem or individually while the other performed other duties.
For more experienced campers a break-out set of advanced classes were taught. Barry Sheets taught five of these classes, including 2 classes on persuasive writing, one class on public policy analysis, one class on effective public policy lobbying and a class on the biblical requirements for civil authorities. Other advanced classes included discussions on effects of public policy on our liberties throughout the history of the US, especially the 20th century.
Measurement of how well the students absorbed what they had learned about the Constitution was accomplished by dividing the students up into groups of cabin-mates. These groups were then quizzed on specific constitutional situations which require that the students recite the applicable article and section of the Constitution in answer to the questions. This is the Constitution Game, developed by Chuck Michaelis as a learning tool and played for cumulative “cabin points” in cabin competitions. The game is moderated by the mysterious Constitution Man, who is known for his sudden appearance with the correct answer to the problem at the slightest hint of a constitutional crisis. Yes, this sounds a little silly, and it can be at times. But the questions asked are difficult and, as a teacher of the basis and workings of American government, there is no more satisfying feeling than to see more than 70 people carefully searching our governing documents for answers to complex constitutional questions. Nothing, that is, except when they find the correct answer. And this year’s students did very well in the Constitution Game.
By the way, one of the reasons Camp American uses the Institution On The Constitution (IOTC) materials is that the students have repeatedly demonstrated that they absorb the material presented much better with IOTC than any other way it has been taught.
They also demonstrated that they absorbed and understood what was learned in advanced classes by effective lobbying, both in writing and in person, for the changing of the scheduled classes to add an additional break-out advanced class from Barry Sheets, who was more than happy to pull together and teach another class on very short notice.
Other instructors of note included Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center, Dr. Charles Rice Professor Emeritus of Notre Dame Law School and Charlie Smith.
Tom DeWeese taught classes on the North American Union, property rights and using co-belligerency with even liberal groups to achieve common goals. Dr. Rice taught on the philosophical basis of a Christian worldview and also on just war. Charlie Smith taught on strategy to capture seats in Congress to effect change at the federal level and also the effects of policies on individual liberties.
This was a very positive and encouraging experience. The young men and women who attended Camp American made us and the Institute optimistic that God is raising a remnant and equipping them to be engaged in making Christian public policy in the coming years, even long after our generation has passed.