I’m a Nonfiction camper and — starting only a month prior — blogger. Before all that, I’ve never experimented with writing much outside of school. I loved writing, but somehow the time to write what I deemed “writing” never came for me. Naively, I believed if I couldn’t write a novel, I wasn't a writer. But, three months and many prompts later, I found myself fortunately wrong. It’s the last week of TYWI’s Summer Camp, and It’s bittersweet.
I had the opportunity to learn under another JUVEN blogger, Asha Swann, and counselor, Julieta. While I couldn’t make it to all the workshops or participate in all the chats — the ones I did make felt meaningful. Every week a new genre appeared, every day a new prompt, all about the validity of writing not as a character, but as yourself. A great chat I was able to make the day I’m writing this was Asha’s session about internships. As someone who can’t even get a job without a work permit — I knew nothing about getting an internship or what that even meant. It still doesn’t sound like I’ll be able to do some things until I’m older, but it did give me great ideas to start early with radio stations, school newspapers, or JUVEN. It gave me hope for so many more job opportunities than I’d ever imagined instead of just freelance or law. It gave me hope to keep writing instead of finding a path more “practical.”
Specifically, onto the weekly genres, I remember I had to miss much of the first two weeks — music journalism and travel writing — due to school. I also know many campers were in the same boat. I did go back and complete some of the prompts I missed, but the great thing about this camp was that nothing was graded. No attendance — aside from mandatory server-wide zooms — and no stress. Camp offered me the opportunity to learn about writing you’ll never learn in school. Tell me, have you ever learned how to interview someone in your English classes? If you did, kudos, but it’s rather unlikely. Since there wasn’t that emphasis on 100% completion, I felt better about just not being interested in some genres over others, and that was completely okay. Crime Journalism wasn’t completely my thing, but I loved travel writing.
A repeating theme during camp was variety. I mean, they had to be varied between the weeks but even different days made you wonder, “Can I write something about this?” Everyone’s answer is going to be different depending on the prompt. I didn’t want to convince someone to read my favorite book. But, I loved the idea of writing about my favorite aesthetic. Both of these prompts appeared during Essay week. Camp truly offered the best flexibility of exploring variety with no stress. Before summer, I may have thought about music journalism, but how could I have written in something I’ve never written before? So, I thought essay writing was all I was good for. Granted I still love essays, but I’m grateful for the chances I got to explore that I otherwise would not have some experience in.
This does connect back to the counselors and the overall planning of camp. I’m not 100% sure of the process behind it, but I do know the final product was executed great. The sense of community that was created during camp — even TYWI as an organization in general — is a mindboggling thing. At some point, you realize everyone is in their bedroom or office space talking about a common interest: writing. I’ve met more people from all over the world in 3 months than I ever would have in years if I hadn’t joined.
I’m looking forward to coming back next summer. Which may sound strange as I’ve already experienced nonfiction writing, why would I want to do it again? Well, for variety, I guess. There are no two authors alike, and no two camps alike. I’m very much excited for what next year's counselors have in store. I’m not very fond of goodbyes, instead take this as a pause.
Until next summer,
is a high school sophomore with aspirations for digital storytelling. She always seemed to understand things better if she could read it, versus videos or lectures, so English and History quickly became her favorite subjects. She volunteers for both Juven and The Meraki Organization to tell stories.