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It’s 9:45 a.m. in a classroom full of 5th graders on a hot summer morning. The room is quiet, except for the sound of pencils scribbling across the page, and the occasional whisper from one writer to her neighbor: “My character’s name is Hairy Potato!”
This energetic silence is the sound of invention—of words coming together in the mind and pouring out onto the page. It’s the sound of stories that didn’t exist until just now, at last taking shape.
Of course, the room won’t stay quiet for long. When writing time ends, sharing time begins, ushering in the clamor of hands waving high in the air and neighbors leaning over to show one another what they’ve created. Welcome to the Library Foundation’s Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp!
On the first day of camp, some of these 5th graders say they love to write. Others say writing’s not their best subject, or they’re not “super good at it.” For the young writing enthusiast, Badgerdog is an opportunity to discover new writers, new forms of writing, and new techniques to expand their tool box. For the reluctant writers, Badgerdog offers a different approach to writing, where “mistakes” are merely experiments, where you can’t fail, there are no grades, and there’s no single right way to write.
“My favorite thing about Badgerdog is being able to write what we want and not do boring school-like assignments,” says Patrick, a camper in the high school workshop at The Griffin School. “We learn writing theory by writing, not by memorization.”
Badgerdog’s teaching artists are all are writers themselves. They love literature so thoroughly, they’ve made it their career. And they know how challenging it can be to find inspiration, to push through a tough writing moment, and to seek advice from others. They also understand that writers aren’t born writers—it simply takes practice.
In addition to writing, campers at Badgerdog also learn how to share their work aloud, how to respond to the work of others, and how revise work for publication. All campers in Badgerdog’s three-week program have one piece published in Badgerdog’s anthologies—Rise for third- through sixth-graders, and Emerge for seventh- through twelfth-graders.
While writing for writing’s sake is a worthy pursuit, Badgerdog believes writers deserve a celebration, which is why each session of summer camp ends with a reading on site. Later in the fall, a camp-wide reading is held at Austin ISD’s Performing Arts Center to coincide with the release of Rise and Emerge.
Each summer, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp brings a new sense of creativity to hundreds of kids and teens, who become stronger writers, speakers, and collaborators as a result. Workshops are held across Austin in three sessions. Badgerdog also offers the Summer Book Crush and Spring Break Writing Workshops. For more information, visit: www.austinlibrary.org.