2010 "Writers Under Construction" Elementary School Camp

The “Writers Under Construction” campers came from elementary schools all over the city of St. Joseph, grades three through six, and gathered at Missouri Western State University from May 24– June 17.

On some days, as many as one hundred authors gathered to journal, reflect, and respond to writing prompts, art work and read alouds. Writers shared their writing during open mic time and learned a great deal from one another’s work. After open mic, the students met in literature circles and discussed the book they had chosen to read. Reading the works of popular, current authors gave students a chance to study how these authors crafted their stories. Students were asked to record their visualizations, questions, connections, inferences, and predictions as they read. Break time came next and was an opportunity to relax, find inspiration, and make new friends. Following break, the writers reconvened in small groups to learn more about the craft of writing, to write more, and to share even more. They experienced a wide variety of writing activities, everything from writing dialogue using the Xtranormal website to crafting effective leads and endings. Every lesson was designed to help the students become better writers.

Two special highlights to this year’s camp were the writing marathons. The first marathon took the campers around the Missouri Western campus. As students viewed the empty stage in the theater or the fountain in front of Eder Hall many of them found inspiration from writing in new surroundings. While touring campus, the campers also visited the Conservation Center. They spent time writing in the woods as well as around the pond, immersed in nature. Photos that were taken during the marathon were then used as writing prompts for the following day. Many of the campers commented that writing while surrounded by nature can certainly be inspiring!

The second writing marathon took the “Writers Under Construction” campers off campus to study the history of Saint Joseph. We visited the Robidoux Row museum as well as the Pony Express Museum to learn about and relive the history of early Saint Joseph. As they spent time writing around both museums, many of the students began crafting their own accounts of the history that was made in Saint Joseph. The facts learned and the artifacts that were viewed, allowed the students to add details to add to their stories that made them more authentic.

A writing celebration was planned for our last day of camp. Parents, family members, and teachers gathered together in the classrooms at MWSU to listen to each camper read an original piece that was written during writing camp. The creativity and learning that took place at camp were certainly evident on this day!