South Carolina has defended an elementary school’s choice of holding a three-day field trip at a Christian outdoor education center after a parent complained and grabbed the attention of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Island Packet reports that at least one parent has voiced displeasure with the fact that Hilton Head Island Elementary School will be sending fifth grade students on a three-day field trip to the Barrier Island Environmental Education Center in Seabrook Island, which is operated by a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina called St. Christopher’s Camp and Conference Center.
According to the center’s website, it is located on over 314 acres of beach and first opened as a summer camp for disadvantaged boys well over seven decades ago. The center now runs a Christian summer camp and provides environmental-based outdoor education and classes to students during the school year.
According to the newspaper, Hilton Head Island Elementary sent permission slips home on Sept. 22, asking parents for their permission for students to go to the Barrier Island Environmental Center for the three-day stay this fall.
“Going to camp is optional, although we think your child will benefit immensely from this experience,” the school’s permission slip states.
The children who don’t go on the trip with their classmates will have the alternative of learning similar things about nature during a trip to the Coastal Discovery Museum during the same week.
However, Jewish parent Elizabeth Greenberg told The Island Packet that she was alarmed by a Barrier Island Environmental Education Program promotional video that was posted to YouTube showing one employee describing non-Christian students as “unchurched.” The video has since been removed from YouTube.
“One of the most significant things about this ministry — and I call it a ministry, because it truly is — is that it gives us the opportunity to impact the lives of so many children to be and live in a Christian environment among a staff who loves Jesus and who loves kids and even if they don’t have the chance to talk about it, it’s evident in how they simply live their lives,” the Rev. Bob Lawrence, the camp’s executive director, was quoted as saying in the video.
Greenberg explained that she was “outraged” and “nauseous” as she watched the video.
“It got worse and worse,” she said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith