James Perloff Interviews Hal Shurtleff, Director of Camp Constitution

Hal Shurtleff
Hal Shurtleff

Hal’s remarks are in bold; mine in normal font.

JP: Hal, it’s great to do this interview with you; for one thing, it gives me a chance to get caught up with you. We go back quite a few years, don’t we?

HS: Yes. I recall literally bumping into you at the American Opinion Bookstore in Belmont, MA back in 1988. You were holding a stack of your Shadows of Powers.

JP: Oh, yes. I still have a bruise from that nasty bump—been meaning to talk to an attorney about that. But, oh, rats, the statute of limitations would have run out by now, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, one of my fondest memories is driving around New England with you, giving PowerPoint speeches about the New World Order, which you were instrumental in setting up. I mean you were instrumental in setting up the speeches, not the New World Order.

HS: I have fond memories of traveling the highways and byways of New England with you and hosting your excellent presentations, and also as an instructor at Camp Constitution’s annual family camps.

JP: Also, I remember you always had a great collection of Stalin jokes. The one about him going into a factory disguised as an ordinary worker, to learn what the proletariat really thought of him, still leaves me in stitches.

HS: The Stalin jokes are from a book by the late Petr Beckman called Hammer and Tickle. I have the book in PDF format and can provide your readers with a copy.

JP: Well, another thing I remember is that you were always collecting rare, out-of-print conservative books. You have those up for sale on Amazon, isn’t that correct?

HS: Yes, I have some rare and out-of-print books. Over the years, Camp Constitution supporters have donated thousands of books to our library and to sell on Amazon. In 2015, our mutual friend Sam Blumenfeld passed away and he willed us most of his library and papers. With it, we created the Samuel Blumenfeld Archives. It has a vast array of the writings, audio, and videos of Sam, a pioneer in the homeschool movement and one of the first to expose the plan to deliberately dumb down Americans.

JP: I have to say that, before the Internet, there was a great treasury of books that constituted a wealth of alternative views of news and history—if you knew how to access them. And unfortunately, most were never were put into digital format, so the only way to retrieve them today is through a resource like Camp Constitution’s Amazon page.

As to Sam, he was really amazing, an activist well into his eighties. Reminds me of the late Dr. Stan Monteith, who was still doing several radio shows a day in his mid-eighties, as well as G. Edward Griffin, who’s still going strong at 87! It confirms that one of the secrets to longevity is a meaningful purpose to your life.

And speaking of meaningful lives, why don’t you tell us a little about your background, and how you came to be involved with Camp Constitution.

HS: I was born, raised and still live in Boston. My Dad owned a drugstore in the Hyde Park section of Boston, and I started working in the store at the age of 8. I went to Boston government schools during the height of forced busing where I witnessed the heavy hand of the federal government, how the Left promotes racism, and how what we now call “fake news” operates. I joined the U.S Army after high school and served a two year duty in a combat arms unit in West Germany and then a tour of duty in the 101st Airborne. It was there that I learned that NATO was a fraud. In 1988, my former landlord loaned me a book by Gary Allen entitled Nixon: The Man Behind the Mask. It helped answer a lot of questions. I soon joined the John Birch Society and from 1990 to 2016, I served on the staff of the Society. In 2009, I co-founded Camp Constitution, and from 2016, I became its full-time director. I am married with five children. My wife Maura and I homeschooled our children.

JP: There’s quite a lot that to like in that resumé! I want to mention one thing here just to set aside some controversy. You and I both had a long association with the John Birch Society, which as you know, has been dissed by people on both sides—or should I say all sides?—of the political spectrum. Whatever its faults may have been, back in the 1980s, the JBS was virtually the only organized group that was “woke” about geopolitics. It was through the JBS that I learned about the CFR, the Fed, globalism, the conspiratorial Shadow Government, and so forth. They of course published my first book The Shadows of Power. I met many great and sincere patriots in the Society, and you were among them. I don’t know if you have anything you’d care to add to that.

HS: Jim, the John Birch Society was way ahead of its time. They were exposing the Deep State long before it became fashionable. I am of the opinion that if it hadn’t been for the efforts of the Society, we would have lost our liberty years ago.

JP: Well, I’d like to move on to the main attraction of today’s interview: Camp Constitution. Tell us about the camp.

HS: Camp Constitution was launched in 2009. We held our first family camp that summer. A few years later, we started a publishing arm, a radio show, a YouTube Channel, and more recently a speaker’s bureau. We have information and book tables at homeschool shows, Tea Party rallies, gun shows and floats in parades. Our website, as mentioned earlier, houses the Sam Blumenfeld Archives, and we also have downloads of important resources for numerous issues. The highlight of our year is our annual family camp. Our week-long family camp combines classes from some of the nation’s or even world’s top experts in their field with recreation, field trips to historic places, hiking, swimming, chess tournaments, just to mention a few. Some of this year’s instructors include Professor Willie Soon, Lord Christopher Monckton, John McManus, Debbie Bacigalupi, and Rev. Steve Craft. We have programs for those 5-11 which we started about five years ago.

JP: OK, and just so my readers don’t misunderstand, there are classes for campers up to—would it be age 18?

HS: Classes are for teenagers and adults. We are a family camp as well as unaccompanied minors.

JP: And, bearing in mind that there’s a whole array of fun recreational activities mixed in with the classes, give us some examples of what topics will be taught, or have been taught, at Camp Constitution. What will kids be learning?

HS: We have three classes in the AM and two in the PM. Some of the classes include U.S. Constitution 101, The Bill of Rights, The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, America’s Godly Heritage, The Moral American, The Climate Change Hoax, The Principles of Leadership, Economics, Get Us Out of the United Nations.

A day at camp begins with a 6:30 AM optional “polar bear” swim or run. 7:00 AM wake up, 7:50 morning devotions and flag raising, 8:00 a good hearty breakfast. Three classes from 9:00-11:00 with break time in between. Lunch and then afternoon recreation which include swimming, boating, basketball, volleyball, wiffle-ball, martial arts, chess tournaments. Tuesday, we will have an optional hike up Mt. Greylock. Wednesday we take a field trip to the Springfield Arsenal Museum. Friday, we take out some of the campers to pass out copies of the U.S. Constitution to businesses owners in the area. Every evening we have campfire where we sing hymns, old-fashioned corny songs, skits, tell jokes. Friday night is closing ceremonies.  We have morning room inspections where we not only look for cleanliness but a Godly and Patriotic theme. The winning room gets free pizza on Friday night after campfire. It is a full week with lots of activities.

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JP: Well, I have taught there myself, of course—three or was it four times?—doing classes on creation vs evolution, as well as on the New World Order. And one thing that was great was being among totally sane people—because, you know, we live in a culture that is progressively growing insane. Being at Camp Constitution was much like the experience I had at MassHope—the annual Massachusetts homeschooling convention. I’ve given classes there a couple of times too, and I know you had a booth there this year. Anyway, after being at MassHope, I told my wife it felt like being in heaven, because everyone, all the kids, were so well-behaved. And Camp Constitution is like that, an oasis in a sea of political correctness. My son attended almost ten years ago, and although he was initially hesitant about bunking with kids he didn’t know, he was made to feel totally welcome and really enjoyed himself.

HS:  One of the benefits of attending Camp Constitution is that we make life-time friendships. My children have become friends with a number of campers and stay in touch and visit each other throughout the year.

JP: There’s someone else I’d like to recommend as a guest speaker—Cece Doucette, who’s right here in Massachusetts and is almost undoubtedly the state’s top educator on wireless dangers. Wireless is contributing to cancer, DNA damage, attention deficits, and a host of other problems, and Cece backs up everything she says with scientific studies. You know how kids are into smartphones? The campers would really relate to what Cece has to say, and their parents would be very keen to know how to better protect their children. As an added bonus, Cece has been instrumental in getting several bills into the state legislature, and she knows first-hand how to work with state legislators—which of course can be helpful for any issue. I interviewed her recently on my website. Honestly, while I can’t speak for Cece, if she came to Camp Constitution, I am certain she’d be an instant smash hit and would give the curriculum a whole new dimension.

HS: One of our new instructors—James Morrison—a colleague of Lord Monckton, will be covering that subject to some extent. But I will check her out.

JP: Great. And while I recommend Camp Constitution unequivocally, there’s something else I think I should say, just so my readers have no misunderstanding. A great many of my readers are in the 9/11 Truth Movement, as am I. However, while I do believe individual families at Camp Constitution are undoubtedly skeptics of the government’s official explanation of 9/11, this is not a subject area that the camp curriculum gets into, correct?

HS: Not specifically. We have classes on the Deep State, exposing the New World Order, getting out of the United Nations, the global warming hoax, and I would say few camp attendees accept the official story of 9/11. I happened to be in the air when it happened and actually flew out of the same terminal at Boston’s Logan Airport as some of the hijackers.

JP: That is something I never knew! Everyone who’s old enough remembers where they were on 9/11, but not many say “I was in the air.” Well, let’s talk about this summer’s camp: when, where, and how do people sign up for it? Oh, and Scrooge McDuck wants me to ask his usual question: how much does it cost?

HS: The camp is in Pittsfield, Mass., and runs from Sunday afternoon July 28 and ends Saturday morning August 3. The camp is for entire families and/or unaccompanied minors and adults. The price for campers 13 and over and adults is $350. 12 and under $250. 3 and under free with parents. Folks can sign up online using this link:  https://campconstitution.registration.payscape.com/. The cost includes lodging, meals, material handouts, and field trip travel expenses. We do have a snack bar, a book table and sell camp T-shirts and camp group photos. We can pick people up and drop them off at airports, trains and bus stations if necessary. The closest major airport is Albany, NY (45 minutes), Amtrak stops in Pittsfield once a day. Car pool arrangements are also a possibility. Your readers are welcome to call or email me if they have any questions or concerns. 857-498-1309, campconstitution1@gmail.com. The camp website is https://campconstitution.net/

JP: Oh, and one of the things I remember about Camp Constitution was how first-rate the facilities and food were. That was when it was in New Hampshire. I see you’ve moved to a new location. How does it compare?

HS: Lakeside is a bit more rustic, but we love it. We are right on a lake—hence the name “Lakeside” with some beautiful scenery of the Berkshire Mountains. The camp has a nice wiffle ball field with a replica “Green Monstah.” The food is even better, it isn’t too far from I-90, and the folks who run the camp love us.

Dining room
(A whole archive of photos from the camp can be found here

JP: Well, I want to strongly recommend Camp Constitution. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn lessons that are missing from public schools, and for families to hang out and network with other folks who maintain traditional values, are “woke” and politically incorrect. These kinds of relationships are increasingly important for us to maintain in an era where we being marginalized by the mainstream media and the “system.”

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Picture of James Perloff

James Perloff

James has been writing for alternative media since 1985 when he began contributing to The New American magazine. He is the author of six books, the subjects of which range from COVID-19 to political history to creationism.

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