Summer camp, Tea Party style

What better way to build lasting memories than with a group reading of Atlas Shrugged?

Summer camp, Tea Party style

iStock; Getty Images: Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

Nothing beats the memories we make at summer camp. Leaping into a cold lake. Toasting marshmallows over a bonfire. Being lectured about how socialism erodes the ambition of the individual.

That last bit of good-time summer fun comes courtesy of the Tea Party, whose members in Tampa, Fla., recently organized a camp for children aged eight to 12. They called it Liberty School—and being a camper there answered certain questions (“How does government undermine my free will?”) while raising others (“Why are my parents doing this to me?”).

What could be more thrilling for a kid than to spend a summer’s day putting names to portraits of America’s founding fathers? What nine-year-old boy doesn’t dream of whiling away a sunny afternoon being subjected to a screed about the evils of the Federal Reserve? One assumes the ritual singing of Kumbaya was replaced with a group reading of Atlas Shrugged.

According to news reports, camp began with “a lesson on the tyranny of the Old World and the freedom of the New World.” How was this concept conveyed? Kids began the day in the Old World, where they were given crackers. But when they moved to the New World: cookies! For those fuzzy on American history, this exercise was inspired by the climactic section of the Declaration of Independence, in which King George III is accused of having “plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts and concealed from us thine Fudgeos.”

At one point, campers got to toss confetti in celebration of the American Revolution—but they then had to get out the brooms and clean it up. This taught them valuable lessons such as “freedom brings responsibility” and “Tea Party camp bites the big one.”

Still, you can see why such a camp was deemed necessary. U.S. Tea Party members have proven themselves stubborn, self-centred, loud and antagonistic—traits that no young child could ever hope to acquire without guidance.

Part of Liberty School was devoted to economics. For instance, kids accumulated butterscotch candies by behaving well and correctly answering questions. They could redeem these candies for prizes. Or, in the interests of accurately depicting the world of finance, they could sell them off in tranches to unsuspecting pension funds, pocketing millions of butterscotches in bonuses and triggering an economic—and sugar—crash.

(In truth, the camp used the candies to represent the peerless value of gold—then taught the kids that paper money is a sly scheme perpetrated by sinister central bankers. These children are now one spittoon-targeting lesson short of being prepared to live a productive life in the United States of the 1850s.)

The first session of Liberty School sold out and attracted so much attention that organizers are hoping to expand next year. Apparently, there’s still much for aspiring Tea Partiers to learn. For example, those Hitler moustaches aren’t going to draw themselves on photos of Obama.

I for one look forward to our Conservative party seizing on the idea and launching a similar school in Canada.

Camp Harper will be open to any child aged eight to 12 who has not already been elected as a New Democrat MP. Just like at Tea Party camp, it’ll be all about learning. Every activity will have a subtext. For instance, children will spend hours baking cookies from scratch. This teaches the kids that Stephen Harper is hungry.

Campers will also gain insight into how to confront Canadian challenges the Harper way:

Managing the Federation. Children will be taught the nuances of dealing with the provinces and territories. Camp staff will designate 13 kids as premiers, then place them in a small tent and ignore them for the entire week.

Global Competitiveness. Industry Minister Christian Paradis will explain to campers the importance of doing well on their report cards, while Bev Oda will teach them how to use a pen to change their grades without consequences.

The Senate. Every child who enrols in Camp Harper will be appointed to the Senate.

Camp Harper will be a blast for kids—and it’ll be fun for parents, too, which is good because they’ll be required to accompany their children at all times. Child care? That’s for socialists.