In the Young Authors Camp for Elementary School Students, we shared about ourselves as people and as writers and brainstormed answers to the question, “What do authors do to keep readers engaged?” We also talked about the many different genres of writing and the children talked about where they might focus. We discussed how authors chose topics to write about and each one of us created a list of possible topics for our own writing. Then the drafting began. We wrote with energy and excitement. We shared and wrote more. We read aloud daily, exploring possibilities with poetry, fantasy, memoir, and informational writing. Conferring with each other and with the teachers was a critical part of every day and to reinforce the need to write with the reader in mind.
Our Middle School writers explored the genres of poetry, comics, fanfiction, popular fiction, and nonfiction. Some of our participants had ideas for novels that they will continue to work on in July and beyond. During the week, our students got to share a piece of his/her work. Our guest speaker, Scott Smoot from The Walker School enlightened our students with a demonstration of how theater activities based on dialogue, body language, and improvisation can inspire great writing. Lauren Karcz, debut author of the forthcoming novel The Gallery of Unfinished Girls (coming in Summer 2017), came to a lunch and learn session and talked about her writing process, how to get writing ideas, balancing her fiction writing with her day job, her process of getting her novel published, and online networking tools that are helpful to writers. Our writing coaches got a lot of positive feedback from the students about how inspirational the camp was to them. We look forward to having many of them come back, along with new writing friends, next summer.
The vision for the Creative Writing Camp for High School Students was a constructive process for the students that still felt fun. The students produced writing, and received helpful advice and feedback about that writing, in a way that didn’t feel like “school.” They were able to write what they wanted, only using coaches’ prompts and suggestions as starting points for their own work. Our young writers were able to work outside of their comfort zones to experiment with writing in new ways. For example, the students created new characters from photographs and placing those characters in various settings and situations to see how these creations will react, including some “personal nightmare” scenarios. The students became fast friends. Much of their writing, in turn, was fun and collaborative, as they bounced ideas off each other and eagerly tried to make each other laugh.