Two summer camps held recently helped to cultivate children’s higher-level thinking.
The Young Writers’ Academy is hosting camps at the Anne Springs Close Greenway. During each, campers were asked to produce a final project.
Two camps, held in July, helped foster a deeper thinking process, but the similarities stopped there.
“The two camps look very different from the outside,” said Sterling Thomas, creative writing teacher for both camps.
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The Creative Writing In Nature camp hosted 18 students ages 7 to 12. Each day, children were led on hikes to help inspire creativity.
“We’ve done nature walks around Haigler lake and different trails and have them observe things in nature, talk about setting and description of setting,” Thomas said.
Each day, the students were given a writing prompt to help spark some ideas.
Samuel Owens, 12, said his story was about Jeff and Paco who were trying to stop the construction of a new fast food restaurant at the expense of local wilderness and wildlife.
“To get inspiration we did this activity where we are the characters in our story and we ask questions and stuff so they kind of help us with that,” said Owens.
The nature writing camp was instructor-guided and included daily lessons on elements of storytelling and how to create a setting for a story. At the end of the week, the children had a bound book of their work.
The afternoon camp, Build Your Own Board Game, was different.
“I tell them ‘You have to create that and put it in a box and give it to a stranger and a stranger should be able to play this game, who doesn’t have your imagination,’” said Thomas.
The board game camp is driven by the camper. Thomas said he was there to supply basic instruction and supervision. But the ideas and creation of each student’s board game was entirely their own.
“The idea of creating a game that has set rules, but is different every time you play it and can have different outcomes is really, really cool for them,” Thomas said.
Students played several types of games on the first day to get inspiration. Then they designed and wrote rules for their game. The most fun came when each camper started putting pen, or marker, to their board.
“You’re teaching more arts and crafts and how to draw squares and spacing and how to make dice out of paper,” Thomas said.
Wyatt Eckhardt, 8, created a game called Survive The Docks, where players try to avoid landing on spaces occupied by dangerous sea creatures. For Eckhardt, inspiration came long before the first day of camp.
“At school we learned about sharks and eels so when we did that we had already signed up for this camp and I thought, ‘This would be a good idea for a board game,’” he said.
Another camp participant, 9-year-old Addison Roper, drew her inspiration from her favorite book series: Harry Potter. She said she really enjoyed the design aspect of the project.
“We got to do all the board and say, ‘I’m gonna put this here and this here,’” she said.
At the end of the week, the campers’ parents played the game with their children.
This is the second year the Young Writers’ Academy has hosted camps on the greenway. There are more to come, including one on fiction writing, college essay prep and How to Write Your Way To an A.
For information on the Young Writers’ Academy and its courses, visit www.youngwritersacademy.com.