Teacher Consultants Susan Perez (far left) and Cricket Ingraham (far right) pose for a photo with students during the June 2019 session of the Young Writers Camp. Photos courtesy of the Central Texas Writing Project
The 2020 summer session schedule for the Young Writers Camp, that will be held online this year.
Elementary students participating in the 2019 Young Writers Camp pose with Teacher Consultant Jessica Klingsick.
Young Writers Camp goes online
Each summer since 1998, the Central Texas Writing Project (CTWP) at Texas State University has hosted the Young Writers Camp. But for the first time ever, CTWP is delivering its camp offerings completely online.
The Young Writers Camp hosts a variety of 2-week camp sessions for local students who are invited to explore their writing skills in an environment that is highly engaging and fun. Although basic and advanced writing techniques are addressed, young writers are primarily encouraged to find and follow their muse.
But due to social distancing recommendations, the Young Writers Camp will be moved completely to an online offering for the first time ever in the program's 22 years, according to Curriculum and Instruction Department Professor Emeritus Dr. Liz Stephens, the founder of the Central Texas Writing Project.
“For the first time in all these years, we're offering our camps online completely,” Stephens said. “It’s an experiment and we're excited about it because it gives us opportunities to do a lot of things we couldn't do before — an example of that is we have right now, a child from the Dallas area who has signed up for one of our camps. That could never happen before.”
Stephens said they have had to make some changes to how the camp sessions will work. In the past, each camp offering could accept approximately 15 students, but this year they decided to reduce that to eight to 10 students per camp — Stephens said they may decide to add more later, depending on how the first session goes.
Stephens also said young writers and their teachers will need to be able to connect using a computer with adequate wifi service, a camera and a microphone. Zoom will be the preferred tool for online live connection, but there will be other online tools that will provide opportunities for discussion, sharing of files/videos/images and possibly, some sharing of student-made products such as digital stories.
According to Stephens, the camp has many benefits for participants — students who were once reluctant writers gain confidence, students who already love to write can expand and she said many parents have noticed better academic outcomes because their children were engaging their writing skills throughout the summer. She said part of that success comes from the constructivist frame of mind that teachers employ at the camp.
“We don't really have a particular outcome that we're expecting or a benchmark that we want them to get to,” Stephens said. “All our teachers are very much in what we call a constructivist frame of mind. Which means that they take the child from where the child is, to the next level — and that's going to vary depending on the learner. It's about seeing what do they know, what are they comfortable with and what would be a little bit of a stretch for them, and then let's kind of nudge in that direction.”
Each teacher that participates in the Young Writers Camp has attended the Central Texas Writing Project’s Summer Institute, that lasts 3 weeks, Monday through Friday, all day during the summer. Dr. Stephens said it’s an intense course that follows a “teachers teaching teachers” model. During the Summer Institute, local educators come together with university professors to explore best practices for teaching writing. Some of those that complete the Summer Institute can then go on to become teacher consultants for the Young Writers Camp. Stephens said the program has been successful because of how passionate the teachers are about their work and the written word.
“We have excellent, dedicated, amazing teachers in our Young Writers Camp program, and I believe they love, love, love teaching,” Stephens said. “They especially love spending time with kids in a setting like this because they're not restricted by any kind of rules or regulations, it’s just all about the joy of writing and the proliferation of writing by giving these kids the space to write as much as they want on just about anything they want. The only thing that's standard is that we want the kids to leave the camp feeling more confident as a writer, more exposed to their own creativity and maybe a little surprised about what they can do.”
The camp sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, for two weeks. Part of the time will be online with whole group gatherings and the other parts will be project-focused time, when students will work online in small groups during the day, depending on what works best for each participant. Camps may vary in their schedules, and Stephens said instructors will work with the writers and their families to make appropriate arrangements.
There are 13 camps being offered this summer. Two will be taught in a non-English language: Spanish and Portuguese. To see the full list of camp offerings and to register, go to https://bit.ly/3g92acR.
The cost of one camp is $250. If a child is enrolled in two or more camps, the cost is $225 each. If a family enrolls two or more camps per family, the cost is also $225 each. Payments can be made by checks or money orders and made payable to CTWP. Mail payments to:
CTWP - YWC Online
Attn: Diane Osborne
Dept. of C&I
Texas State University
601 University Dr.
San Marcos, TX 78666
Thursday, May 28 is the registration deadline. Registration will be confirmed when payment is received and processed and no refunds will be available after June 1. For more information, contact Central Texas Writing Project at 512- 245-3680 or email@example.com.