CAMP IS OVER! We’ve unloaded the camp boxes back into Carrie’s basement. We paid Westminster for their classrooms and thanked them for generously sharing their beautiful campus with us. We went to King’s English and paid them for the books we gave our campers. We said goodbye to our writing coaches and gave them huge hugs and heartfelt thanks. We wrote a lovely Yelp review for Office Max for coming through for us with a quick turnaround on printing our camp magazine.
We turned out the lights and drove away.
You might think this was “old hat” for us, or “just another year in the books.”
After all, that was our 17th writing camp.
But guess what? It doesn’t get old. We are always learning new things, delighted by kid writing, amazed by progress and transformations, and proud of writers’ connections with each other and their writing coaches. For us, It’s Christmas morning (or the first day of Purnim) over and over again.
We have a few takeaways from camp this summer that are ah-ha moments bigger than just this one week of camp. We hope they are insights that can help you continue to support your writers from home!
- It’s a long game! This year, the camp fell on a new national holiday: Juneteenth. Out of respect for the holiday, we tried a four-day week of camp. It wasn’t enough. We missed the extra day every day! Next year, the camp will be five days long no matter what, but a writer’s journey is a lifetime! Keep after it with your children. What they don’t get today, they may get next week or even next year. Just stay the course!
- Audiences matter. With the short week of camp, we seriously considered not publishing our camp magazine. A magazine after four days? Who could blame us for not creating one? But we decided to make it happen. On Friday, watching kids LIGHT UP to see their pieces, big and small, in a magazine alongside other writers, left no doubt that we had made the right decision. One of the best ways to turn kids on to writing and keep them writing is to help them find audiences for their stories, be it on the refrigerator, the coffee table, or even in the mail to Grandma. And, as a p.s., it doesn’t need to be “finished” to be shared. Excerpts and “to be continued’s” work just beautifully.
- Offer choices. Kids at camp love LOVE L-O-V-E to choose their writing clubs, or classes, for the day. This year, we ended up offering 14 clubs throughout the week with a “reboot” of popular clubs on the last day. Building in choice to any writing experience puts kids in the driver’s seat. It’s not an “I have to” but an “I get to.” Try offering as many choices as possible in your writing experiences with your kids. Pen or pencil? Big paper or small paper? Write for 3 minutes or 7 minutes? Poetry or story? Picture first or last?
More reminders and takeaways from camp:
- It is a powerful experience for kids to listen to authors.
- Kids have stories to tell. Just give them time and space to tell them.
- Anytime you can “game-ify” writing, it’s a win.
- Kids don’t always know what is best for them. Kids that were there because their mom or dad “made them come” ended up asking to come back next summer. Writing really is fun.
We know not all of you were able to be there with us, but we promise to keep offering lots of resources for raising children to be strong and happy writers! We have more to come!