by Maddie Hamblin
During my first year as a counselor in 2017, I ran an Optional called Conspiracy Theories because conspiracy theories were all over social media that summer and very popular with the campers. Three years later, the Optional has proven to be more than just a fad — it’s a tradition that I look forward to leading every year.
The Optional begins with me frantically telling the participants to create tinfoil hats to “block our thoughts from the outside world.” Then I give a PowerPoint informing them of what conspiracy theories are, where they come from, and how they are “true.” After enlightening the campers about the “real secrets of the world kept from us from the reptilian leaders,” the new conspiracists create their own conspiracy theory about VAMPY, with a back story and “evidence” to back it up.
Not only is this Optional fun and creative for the campers, but it gives them a chance to develop critical analysis skills by creating a story that requires well-rounded arguments to back up their claims. Each year the campers create increasingly complex theories which are written on poster paper, read out loud to the group, and hung around the lobby afterwards for all the other campers to read.