On the final day of the first week, the camp was visited by an enthusiastic writer, Scott Reintgen. He is a former English teacher who, after publishing his first novel, has become a full time writer. His second novel is set to come out in a few days. Both novels are apart of a young adult series. After introducing the campers to himself and his novels, he lead them in a writing activity. In this activity campers were asked to finish the statement “I write because…” five different ways. Afterwards, they selected their favorite one. Then volunteers were chosen to share, and as they read them in succession, they formed a sort of oral poem.
Feeling energized by such a vibrant speaker, the campers, once divided into their groups, set to work on their own writing pieces. In most classrooms, all you could hear when you walked in were computer keys clacking away. A few teachers offered the campers some time to peer edit a fellow camper. Because most of the camp spent the entire day writing and editing, campers left at noon feeling accomplished and excited.
Those staying for the afternoon session enjoyed a nice break to eat lunch, chat amongst each other and give their brains a break from writing. But when the 1:00 session started up, the campers were ready to write again. The fiction writing group spent the beginning talking about their favorite story beginnings and what each of beginning accomplished. This allowed for them to think about their own beginnings and whether they were accomplishing the same things. After that they set to work on their writings and followed they drafted for the rest of the time.
The podcasting and poetry/spoken word groups are also getting a lot accomplished. Many campers in the poetry course, seem to be finding their footing in their poems and will enter next week ready to start memorizing them and practicing their performance. The podcasting course has been gearing up for the campers to start recording their own podcasts. They have begun working with Garageband to create intro, in between and outro sound bits and brainstorming their ideas for what their podcast will talk about.
All in all, with the first week of camp under their belts, campers are feeling confident and excited about their progress, ready to begin the second week strongly.
Reintgen showing the campers an example of an “I write because..” poem
K-2 class working on their stories
7-8 class typing away
6th grade class working hard
Today’s author for the author talk was Danielle Battaglia, a reporter from the News and Record. She talked about her experience as a crime investigative reporter to help the campers understand how to better their writing. She discussed about the who, what, where, when, why, and how, and how they are important to a story.
As the end of the first week of camp begins to wind down, some of the groups come up with a strategy for the end of camp. By the end of camp, the campers should have a finished product uploaded to their choice of medium, and will share their stories.
Campers work hard on their stories, and when inspiration strikes, it’s hard to step away. The 4-5 group worked on their stories with complete focus, and drew inspiration from the author talks and the trip to the museum for their stories.
Many of the campers like to write fictional stories, but others like to write non fiction pieces. The 3-4 group has a lot of students that wish to create non fiction stories on their favorite topics, such as animals, sports, and activities.
One of the groups during the afternoon session is the podcasting group. The campers can learn about the basics and uses of podcasting to inspire them for their stories. They can learn how to use sound effects and voice acting to bring their stories to life through sound.
The K-2 group’s plan towards the end of camp.
The 4-5 group works diligently on their stories with an assistant giving them advice.
The 3-4 group works on their stories.
The 6th grade returned from their trip to the museum and squeeze in a few minutes of writing.
A camper from the K-2 group shares his brainstorming page and explains his writing process through images.
Several campers from Podcasting work together to act out a skit made by one of their peers inspired by investigative podcasts.
Writing to Heal
The third day started with a new author talk. Husband and wife, Hassan and Francemise Kingsberry, both authors, spoke about what inspired them to write and gave the campers some advice, while leading them through a brainstorming exercise. The Kingsberrys’ both wrote books about their first daughter, who passed away at a young age. While Francemise found solace in painting and poetry, Hassan found it in autobiographical storytelling. They told the campers that neither one of them had thought of themselves as writers, but after going through this hardship they felt called by it. Once they had shared their story, the Kingsberrys began to talk more about the process of writing itself, relating it to the process of gardening. At the end of the talk, they conducted a brainstorming exercise in which the campers had to “word dump” all the words that came to their minds when they thought about happiness and what made them happy.
After the morning author presentation was over the campers divided into their groups and started their work for the day. It was the fourth and fifth grade class’ turn to travel to the Weatherspoon Art Museum on campus. There, they completed the activities that the groups yesterday had done. In the classrooms and computer labs, back in the education building, campers were busy completing writing exercises, specifically centered around imagery and characterization, and brainstorming about ideas for their big writing piece.
Snack time was made more exciting today by a visit from the Kona Ice truck. Each class had a turn to buy a snow cone if they choose to. The process allowed the campers to enjoy some nice fresh air which, combined with the sugar, got them excited to write.
At noon, campers either returned home or stayed for the afternoon session and ate lunch. The afternoon sessions were just as fun packed as the morning’s were.
Today the fiction class went to the art museum and viewed a video the museum had on display. After the video concluded, they discussed how there were different point of views present in it and how those types could be used in their own fiction writing. When they returned to the education building they were ready to use what they had seen and talked about in their own writings.
The podcasting class listened to some interesting examples of current podcasts. The campers then had a chance to think about the topic of these podcasts and do a little debating on what they felt they might have done or what they believed to be true. Many of the campers thought of strong points and concepts that they could incorporate into their own future podcast.
The spoken word class had some visitors. Two of the instructor’s former students came to speak about their experience with poetry slam and offered the campers some advice. The group also walked around campus, finding cool buildings and trees that could inspire future poems.
At the end of the day, campers were worn out but felt excited about the progress they were making.
Camp started with a presentation from a local writer and editor, Carla G. Harper. She has written a book called Worthy, edited a book of poetry and prose, and is working on her next novel. She gave the campers some advice on how to improve their writing and listed a few books that have helped her along the way.
-The Writing Life, Annie Dillard
-On Writing, Stephen King,
-Crafting Scenes, Raymond Obstfeld
Additionally, she had campers do a writing exercise where they described a real or made up encounter with an animal. This was intended to help the campers work on openers that would hook their audience.
Throughout the week, the campers will be able to tour the Weatherspoon Art Museum. The campers tour some of the exhibits and use them to inspire their writing.
After their trip to the museum, the campers went back to their classroom and worked on their writing until the end of the morning session.
The afternoon session begins after lunch, and the campers split up into new groups. The three groups include Fiction Writing, Spoken Word, and Podcasting. Each group explores these fields of writing and gives the campers new ideas for their own writing.
The first day of camp began with registering the campers and giving them their shirts. Once most of the kids were settled in the auditorium, our first presenter of the camp began. The presenters were from The Melon Project, a group devoted to helping impoverished children in Kenya receive a good education with all the supplies they might need. They shared many touching photos with the campers. This group comes every year on the first day of camp to introduce the campers to their audience. They are their audience because all of their stories, once published, will be brought to their school. Once the presenters were finished, the campers were divided into their classes based on their rising grade level.
In the classes, most instructors lead their campers in many fun get-to-know-you games and activities. These included an adapted version of bingo and a mock interview process. After this, the campers enjoyed some time outside as they ate their snack.
Once back in the classroom, the instructors started to get the campers to think about their writing pieces. Instructors helped the kids brainstorm ideas and think about important parts of the writing process.
Additionally, some of the younger campers worked on their presenting skills. They did this by drawing pictures of all the things they liked and then presenting those pictures to the rest of the class.
This wrapped up the beginning of the day. But, campers staying for the afternoon session, ate lunch and awaited the next part. In this session students were able to choose between a fiction class, a spoken word class, and a podcasting class. This opportunity is new to the Young Writers’ Camp this year and allows campers to work on these specialized interests.