Teen authors to tailor their topics at summer camp

SIDEWALK AS CHALKBOARD — The summer camp programs, which are offered through the Southern Maine Writing Project, take children outdoors to explore writing inspirations. If enough teenage campers register by June 6, longtime language arts teacher Anne Walker will lead a Young Authors Camp in her hometown of Naples. (Photo courtesy of Southern Maine Writing Project)

SIDEWALK AS CHALKBOARD — The summer camp programs, which are offered through the Southern Maine Writing Project, take children outdoors to explore writing inspirations. If enough teenage campers register by June 6, longtime language arts teacher Anne Walker will lead a Young Authors Camp in her hometown of Naples. (Photo courtesy of Southern Maine Writing Project)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — It only takes a flick of the wrist to create a utopia where only best friends and favorite pastimes exist.

It only takes a flick of the wrist to concoct a post-apocalyptic world where daily life is for those with a warrior’s heart.

That is the magic of writing.

The magic of transforming an idea into the written word is why agencies like the Southern Maine Writing Project (SMWP) promote writing camps.

This summer, for teenagers only, a Young Authors Camp is being offered in Naples. The daytime camp happens at the Naples Public Library during the last week of June. The camp starts Monday, June 27, and runs through Friday, July 1. In order for the camp to happen, at least seven teens must sign up by June 6.

The instructor, Anne Walker, has been an English teacher for 25 years, and currently works at Gray-New Gloucester High School. She has been certified as a SMWP teacher consultant in 2007.

This teacher, who calls Naples her home, is thrilled to share the writing experience with teens. And, if those future campers have some thrilling or chilling stories to tell, Walker’s areas of expertise are bound to intrigue. She has studied dystopian literature and writing.

“Dystopian – it’s a world gone wrong, a glimpse into the future. There are a lot of teen dystopian books out,” she said, citing such as The Hunger Games trilogy. “I have taught horror literature. Some students are interested in fantasy and science fiction.”

“They just have to love writing,” Walker said. “If they love writing, they will have a great time.”

“The Naples Public Library has graciously given us permission to have use of the grounds. That week we will have the run of the library. There is the cool basement with a kitchen, and nice reading nooks upstairs. It is the prime location for this,” she said.

The day camp’s location in Naples and the timeframe could prove to be perfect for both local residents and nonresidents who spend the summer here, arriving before the Fourth of July.

The location of the Naples library will make it easy for students to walk to other interesting spots like the Causeway, the shores of Long Lake or the town cemetery for writing exercises, according to Walker.

“We will do a writing marathon,” she said. “You take off with a notebook, walk and sit down and write for a while, walk and write, walk and write, all day. There will be one day that is dedicated to a writing marathon.”

“Kids love that — the freedom of walking around, and yet having the purpose of writing in their minds,” she said.

“It all gets incorporated into their writing pieces,” she said.

SMWP will publish an anthology that will include writing from about a half dozen Young Authors Camps taking place this summer in southern Maine. The camp registration fee covers the cost of the anthology. The publication will not be done by the time camp ends, but it is worth the wait when young writers receive it this summer, Walker said.

“These writing camps are all run by the SMWP that basically recruits teachers who are passionate about writing,” she said. “We know how to transform our classroom practices into a fun experience for teen writers.”

The writing genres are vast. It could be poetry or song lyrics or personal memoirs or science fiction. The choice of which direction to take it is up to the students.

Another style of writing that Walker has taught is the digital story.

“They turn a piece of writing into a visual showcase combining music, recorded narrations, images, photos. We work with I-Movie to put it together,” she said.

“Anyone can bring their own voice, their own style to the camp and have that nurtured. It will be a nurturing peer group that they can work in. Their writing can transform through the peer group as they share writing and get feedback,”

“It will be a very relaxed environment,” she said.

To learn more about the Young Authors Camp offered for teens through the Southern Maine Writing Project, check out the SMWP website. People can register online at http://go.gl/forms/7QSVxpdxYF. The cost of the week-long camp is $180 and includes T-shirt, writing supplies and anthology. The deadline to register for the Young Authors Camp is Monday, June 6. At least seven students must register in order for camp to take place.