If ever there was a time when children could use some good old-fashioned escapism, it’s right now. With many communities under lockdown, teens are glued to their phones, iPads, and gaming consoles even more than usual. And parents are scrambling to find an alternative that will stimulate their kids’ brains and won’t turn their minds to jelly.
Enter the Write the World summer writing camp. From July 6-10, this five-day immersive virtual experience gives writers ages 13-18 the opportunity to create works in Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. Teenagers in Write the World focus on building their writing skills, while connecting with other writers around the world. Participants also get to learn from experts and special guests.
Parentology spoke with Founder and CEO David Weinstein, who told us what kids should expect from their stay at Write the World virtual writing camp.
PARENTOLOGY: Although the program focuses on the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres, why might the camp also be appealing to kids who write in other genres?
David Weinstein: Write the World’s virtual writing camp welcomes all writers: those who are well-versed in a given genre, as well as those who might be dipping into a specific style of writing for the first time. Our writing prompts and camp activities are specifically designed to offer multiple entry-points for participants of various competencies and experience
What’s a typical day like for a Write the World camper?
DW: Every day our campers will meet as a group with Write the World educators via Zoom for synchronous writing activities and instruction. Campers will then have a set of prompts to respond to, readings to browse, and peer reviews to write in preparation for the next day of camp.
The young writers will explore a different element of craft each day (i.e., dialogue and characterization, setting, and worldbuilding), working up to the final days of camp, when they draft, revise, and submit an original piece of flash science fiction or fantasy for inclusion in our camp “anthology,” [that will be] sent to writers at the end of our time together.
Each day, campers will also receive personalized feedback on their work from Expert Reviewers — trained authors and educators on the Write the World team. For one of our synchronous sessions, campers will engage in a craft conversation and Q&A with published YA author Rebecca Podos, whose works (The Mystery of Hollow Places, Like Water, The Wind and the Wicked) have been published to high acclaim.
What do campers typically say is the most enriching part of their camp day?
DW: This summer marks our inaugural virtual camp, designed to fill the gap created by the cancellation of many traditional summer camp activities. The writing camp is modeled on prior successful writing workshops facilitated on our digital platform.
Participants in those programs cited the opportunity to connect with other young writers around the world as particularly meaningful, and they expressed eagerness to receive more individualized, in-depth mentorship from Write the World educators, which we are delighted to offer via this virtual camp model.
How much improvement should a camper expect to see in their work over a 5-day period?
DW: Because we differentiate instruction and meet each writer where they are, every camper will see progress in their learning, thinking, and writing throughout the course of the workshop — thanks in part to our team of dedicated educators ready to provide personalized feedback.
That progress will look different for each camper. A writer who regularly creates science fiction and fantasy stories might find a new way to approach the construction of conflict, while a young poet or journalist might discover a new passion, or return to their favorite genres with new tools gleaned from their Expert Reviewers– techniques that are transferable across genres.
After completing the program, do campers have continued access to their mentors? Are any follow-up programs offered?
DW: Participants in our virtual writing camp will establish free accounts on our platform, www.writetheworld.com, where, throughout the year, they will have access to our weekly writing prompts and monthly competitions across genres.
They will write and receive peer reviews from a community of nearly 50,000 young writers around the world, participate in smaller, genre-specific “groups” on the site, and enroll in future camps, workshops, and other opportunities.
A recent example of the programming we facilitate is Civics in Action 2020, a cohort of young journalists working with Write the World, Facing History and Ourselves, and The National Children’s Campaign, to write about current events throughout the election cycle in the United States. Their pieces are featured regularly on Parentology, exemplifying just one way that members of our site can continue to hone and share their work after camp concludes.
For more information, visit the Write the World Virtual Summer Camp website.