Lake Hypatia: The Freethought Advance
This article was written by Hemant Mehta, Chair of the Secular Student Alliance Board of Directors.
Where can you find an understandable lecture on the Theory of Relativity, a softball game between atheists and agnostics, and several real, gigantic snakes?
Only at Lake Hypatia, the Freethought Advance. (It might be called a "retreat," but we freethinkers do no such thing!) The event was hosted by the Alabama Freethought Association in early July.
This weekend event was held at a campground near Talladega, Alabama (the NASCAR haven). Nearly 100 non-believers from across the country came to enjoy each other's company and experience a weekend full of food, lectures, and discussions. The age range was across the board, and wisdom flowed from both ends of the spectrum.
In addition to the unique events that occurred, there was no lack of usual camping activities: hiking, swimming, and boating were all options for people to enjoy. The Freethought Trivia and softball games were both competitive, and the winners received prizes ranging from DVDs and T-shirts to "godless" dollar bills (printed before "In God We Trust" was added to the currency).
Between sessions, many of the attendees spent time looking at books in the freethought library, which contains two walls of shelves filled with books on secular thought. I could've spent several more hours there simply reading the book titles!
One of the nice surprises for me was to meet several students from different colleges who had formed (or planned on forming) secular student groups of their own. I hadn't known them beforehand, and we were all able to share and spread ideas on how to increase attendance and hold interesting events on our respective campuses. More than that, though, we had the chance to get to know each other outside of just our belief systems, and that in itself was worth the trip.
If you're interested in attending this event next year, the SSA can help with the finances. Simply fill out the grant application found at http://www.secularstudents.org/node/92.