Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Young Writers Camp 2006

Someone said the Young Writers Camp gets better and better every year. Don’t know about that, but since it came from someone who had been to 3 previous camps, I’ll take it as a compliment. We had about 46 campers (the largest number we’ve ever had) with some 12 or 13 facilitators (that’s a record too). These were the guys who did practically all the legwork. Some more than others, but they did well.

The great thing about this year’s camp was that it involved facilitators who were alumni of phases magazine themselves. Now in their early twenties they’re here coaching kids who were their age when they caught the reading and writing bug. We had a load of fun. The trip around historical Melaka was a smart move. Mythical Melaka. Legends. Rumours. Musty museums. Beca drivers and sidewalk artists. Oooh. Just the thing to test the kids’ creative writing chops.

This is not meant to be a slight, but I thought the bunch of teens we had this year did not include outstanding individuals (or highly strung types) who left their mark on some of our earlier camps. I mean people who read widely, were conversant with writers and ideas, and whose writings expressed a familiarity with word and wit. Sure we had a few who certainly showed promise as writers and poets (too few), but a lot of them were, uhm, so textbook-cast it showed in their pieces. Painful. The writing salon on the last day put lots of kids on edge I think, this being the first time for most of them. Still, they were very sporting - many literally worked thru the night to write their essays. Top marks for the fantastic effort. Oh yes - quite funny the way the facilitators fell into the Simon Cowell-Paula Abdul-Randy Jackson mould at the Salon (unconsciously I must add).

On the other hand it’s just a 3-day camp and the campers more than made up for what they lacked by their energy and enthusiasm. So it’s a hopeful start nevertheless – the fact that they actually paid money for a writing camp is positively heartening. Woohoo! I think they're sort of pumped up sufficiently to appreciate that words are not an end to themselves – they’re flesh and bones waiting for life to be breathed into them.
There’s a new world abornin’ - as they say - and I’m just glad to be a part of it.

(Photo inserts credit: Owen)
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