Our eight weeks of Thurber Summer Writing Camp have come to a close. After eight weeks of brainstorming wondrous ideas of unicorns, labyrinths, and alien invasions, we are extremely proud of our more than 300 young writers this summer and the stories they created. We asked some of our interns to reflect upon their time with at Thurber Camp and treat us with a few fun anecdotes.
Here is what Intern Samantha had to say:
Hello, my name is Samantha Silber and I am a Professional Writing and Creative Writing double major at Miami University. Though I’ve always been an avid reader, I didn’t consider myself much of a writer until late in middle school. This may be why interning during the second and third grade Thurber House Summer Writing Camps was so inspiring to me.
Though I frequently work with children, I have never seen any so enthusiastic and excited to write as literally every child at the Thurber House was. Of course there were children who insisted that writing, or poetry, or fairy tales were not for them, but by the end of the day, you would never have known it, as the children eagerly worked on and shared their handiwork.
I believe this is because the camp made writing exciting and hilarious. We were able to give these energetic and wildly imaginative kids the ability to express themselves through writing what they wanted to write. Though we gave the children prompts and ideas ultimately the children were given a lot of freedom to explore their own imaginations. I heard stories about gargoyles coming to life, villains making socks stinky, lizards slurping on frappuccinos, and Little Red Zombiehood. I was impressed by how respectful my fellow staff members were of even the most outlandish ideas. So were the kids, who were incredibly open to sharing their vivid characters and wacky settings in our Fairy Tale and Plot workshops.
One of the most surprising and fun parts of the Thurber House Camp was that it wasn’t just about writing, but also about science, art, theater, and so on. Like Thurber before them the kids were encouraged to tell stories through drawing. A professional storyteller came in and taught the children the value and uniqueness of oral storytelling. This is especially critical for young writers such as these kids because their pencils can’t quite keep up with their minds yet. Afterwards, I heard many more stories than I had before. Though I had originally though that the costumed counselors who read the students town crier notes and requests at the end of the day were just for laughs, I realized that they too were teaching the children about storytelling through theater and character creation.
I had lots of favorite camp moments but here are two of them:
- On my first day the children were on a tour of the Thurber House looking at the photographs and signatures of the house’s visiting writers. As one of the docents told them visitors weren’t allowed to sign the wall, one of the kids explained that it was because they weren’t “real writers.” A dejected sort of silence fell and their counselor stepped in, explaining that they were all real writers and that the wall was just for published writers. She told them that someday they might get to sign their names on that wall too. This moment was small, but to me it represents one of the best things that the camp had to teach which was that all of the children are authors and that their writing matters.
- I’m also really partial to the jungle word wall that I helped to assemble. This word wall was a mural of plants and animals composed of scraps of paper upon which the children described and wrote about them. The word wall included gems such as: What’s a lizard’s favorite kind of weather? A blizzard! And drawings of tigers driving Fer-rawr- The wall was a brilliant representation of the children and staff’s hard work, sense of humor (we never could get the tiger’s head and body quite proportional…) and outstanding creativity.