“It was nice being around people who also like to write.”—Heather Daugherty, eighth grader at St. Francis Xavier
By Eric Williams, PLWP Administrative Assistant
June 15, 2012
“Living, Breathing, Writing” Middle School Summer Writing Camp saw 14 campers from five St. Joseph area middle schools finding inspiration for writing through creative exploration at Missouri Western State University. The 2012 camp, sponsored by Prairie Lands Writing Project (PLWP) and the St. Joseph School District, met four mornings a week for four weeks, from May 21 through June 14.
Josie Clark, PLWP teacher consultant and communication arts teacher at Bode Middle School, was the camp director. A quote from writer Anais Nin—“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”—was the source for this year’s “Living, Breathing, Writing” camp theme.
“The camp was about the kids becoming writers, instead of just kids who like writing,” Clark said. “I let the kids take ownership of their writing by giving them the freedom to choose what they wanted to write about.”
Writing into the Day prompts inspired writing:
Each day began with a “Writing into the Day” writing prompt that came in many forms, such as pictures, poems, videos, and songs. The campers were free to respond to the prompts by writing what they wanted in whatever form they felt inspired to use. The idea was to get the campers warmed up and ready to write. Campers were given the chance to share their writing before they moved on to the day’s big project.
Campers completed multiple writing projects which they compiled, and published in an anthology. One such project had the students creating found poetry, which they created using words and lines from their favorite books. Audrey Gibbs, eighth grader at Bode Middle School, said, “The found poetry was my favorite part of the camp.” Other major projects included a shoot marathon, where students walked around the Missouri Western campus taking pictures that they later wrote about, an artifact hunt, where students looked for inspiring items and wrote about them, and a writing marathon, where campers spent the day walking around the campus and finding writing inspiration from various locations. Some campers wrote poetry, others short stories and novels. Students also put technology to use in their story telling, creating digital compositions that included photo montages, videos, and even cartoons.
The days ended with a “Writing Out of the Day” writing prompt, which ranged from difficult, one-word prompts to fun, goofy prompts that had the campers pretending they were melting ice cream and sloths. Elizabeth Comella, eighth grader at St. Francis Xavier, said, “The writing prompts fed my imagination.”
Campers grew as writers:
The campers had fun and grew as writers. They learned different styles of writing, how to write continuously, how to be better observers, and how to find inspiration from their surroundings. Harrison Meers, eighth grader at Bode Middle School, said, “I learned how to write with more zeal.”
A large reason for the success of the camp is that the campers were nominated by their teachers to attend camp, so the campers were some of the best writers from their class who also truly enjoy writing. Heather Daugherty, eighth grader at St. Francis Xavier, said, “It was nice being around people who also like to write.”
The camp ended with a final day celebration, with the campers’ parents coming and listening to the kids read some of their pieces out of the published anthology. The students left camp as published writers, better writers, and writers who understand what it means to live a life of writing.