2011 "Where Writing Hides . . . " Middle School Camp

By Alison Norris, PLWP Administrative Assistant
June 30, 2011 

“Where Writing Hides…” Middle School Writing Camp was held at Missouri Western State University for four weeks this summer, and taught creative writers going into 8th and 9th grade from around the St. Joseph area. The camp taught campers to dig deeper to find more original ideas and look closely at where writing really hides in their world and how they could find it. 

This year's camp director, Josie Clark, was an eighth grade language arts teacher at St. Joseph's Bode Middle School. The camp for middle school students is sponsored every summer by Prairie Lands Writing Project and the St. Joseph School District. Clark brought energy and enthusiasm to the 14 campers and encouraged them to think outside the box. 

“I got the name of the camp from a challenge that Naomi Shihab Nye presents in her poem "Valentine for Ernest Mann.‟ She says in the poem that if "we reinvent whatever our lives give us, we find poems,‟ and that is what I wanted us to set out to do.  We looked at ordinary things around us that we usually wouldn't think to write about, and turned them into inspiration for pieces of writing,” Clark said. 

The campers spent the beginning of each day looking closely at a large variety of genres and types of writings to help them choose their own writing style. The goals of the camp were to improve writing skills, create anthology work, turn ideas into published pieces, experiment with genres, create multimedia pieces, make new friends and have fun while learning  

The Middle School Writing Camp taught campers how to write poetry, short stories, twisted tales, screenwriting, song lyrics and personal essays. Campers also worked with visuals, played with words and worked to create final writing pieces. 

“We went on a Shoot and Write, which is when we went outside and walked around campus and took pictures of what we saw. When we got back, we wrote about what we had seen and captured,” Clark said. “We also watched a portion of Titanic on mute and created stories in the point of view of the passengers based on our senses.  We also did fun writing prompts that allowed us to be sloths, socks, deer, and monsters that we had never thought of before.”

The highlight of the camp was creating digital compositions, shoot and write photography marathons, personalized writer‟s notebooks, digital book trailers, and finally publishing camper‟s work in an anthology and online.  

“I think the campers figured out that writing can hide anywhere.  We can access it as long as we just open up our minds and our eyes to look for it,” Clark said.