2011 "Rockin' Writers" Elementary School Camp

By Alison Norris, PLWP Administrative Assistant 
June 30, 2011

Eighty seven campers, grades three through six, came from elementary schools all over the St. Joseph area for four weeks this summer to attend “Rockin’ Writers” Youth Writing Camp 2011 at Missouri Western State University. 

Ann Dotson, director of the writing camp and a sixth grade teacher at St. Joseph Skaith Accelerated Elementary, said the camp is important to students to help further develop their writing skills.

“The campers have the opportunity to learn and engage in writing experiences and learning from a variety of teachers and students,” Dotson said. 

“Rockin’ Writers” sponsored by Prairie Lands Writing Project was an annual summer camp for aspiring writers. Campers met from 8:00 a.m. to noon and were able to enjoy a comfortable and fun atmosphere as they read, wrote, and illustrated their own pieces of writing. The writing camp offered a full range of fun and learning and provided activities like taking field trips, creating art projects, improving writing skills, making new friends and getting published.    

Tia Frahm, co-director of the camp and St. Joseph Spring Garden Middle School teacher, said this is a great learning experience for young writers. 

“The variety of lessons combined with the author’s choice of topic allowed the students to grow as writers,” Frahm said. “Every day during the group share we were able to hear the growth and see the campers connect with their writing.” 

The campers did a wide variety of activities to help them became better writers. They shared their writing during open mic sessions where they were able to learn from one another’s work. The campers read works from popular, current authors and met in literature circles to discuss the books, which gave them an opportunity to study how the authors crafted their stories. 

Jerri Fischer, a kindergarten teacher at Lindbergh Elementary,assisted in the writing camp and said she loves teaching the writing camp because it is so exciting watching the excitement and enthusiasm of the students come to life in their writing and it helps make her grow as a teacher.

“This year the writers showed so much compassion as they wrote about sensitive pictures such as homelessness,” Fischer said. “They also did a great job writing persuasive pieces, learning to be respectful of others opinions and to see things from different perspectives.” 

The highlight of each year is the writing marathon. This year the marathon took the campers around the Missouri Western campus. The campers were able to view the Chief’s training camp and find inspiration from writing in a new environment. 

At the end of the camp, an anthology was created from a collection of writing from the campers. The campers now have a published piece and are authors.