Sunday, September 4, 2011

There’s Something About Inkstains . . .

Kim Pavlock TC’ 92

It’s amazing to consider: twenty-five middle school students and thirty-nine high school students devoting an entire week of their summer vacation to writing, writing, and more writing on the campus of Eastern Michigan University in the middle of July!

Monday through Friday each week, Inkstains instructors Sean Eldon, Alli Kaplan, Natalie Tomlin, and Amy Van Horn engaged students in fun and thought-provoking writing activities, provided encouraging feedback, and created a positive environment in which the students felt comfortable and wanted to share their writing.
Year after year, student writers return to Inkstains, and year after year, our instructors return to Inkstains. What is it that they find so appealing and energizing about this particular writing camp? Read on to find out what some of our campers, parents of campers, and instructors have to say . . .

One thing that I really liked was that you got a lot of freedom to write what you wanted, I also liked that there was a blog to post on and read other people's work.
~Caitlin, an Inkstains middle school camper

Inkstains was great! I really liked being outdoors a lot! And I liked how we were always with different people and different sized groups!
~Anne, an Inkstains middle school camper

I really enjoyed the poetry slam, I honestly never would have tried something like that outside of camp and I absolutely loved it. The people I have met at Inkstains have become my best friends and I can always go to them about any writing I do outside of camp as well.
~Tiffany, an Inkstains high school camper

Being able to read my work [aloud] at the end of the week is wonderful. Although I am always shy and nervous right before reading, I love walking to the center of the room and seeing that all of my Inkstains friends and my family are there supporting my writing. It has also helped to improve my public speaking skills. I love the great variety of writing prompts provided to us throughout the week. Whenever there's a prompt that I'm not particularly inspired by, the next one will be completely different and I'm always guaranteed to find something to get my creative juices flowing.
~Shelby, an Inkstains high school camper

I was a camper all four years of high school and enjoyed every minute of it. THANKS to you and to everyone else that made my experiences so memorable.
A big plus about camp this past summer was all the people there. The people running the camp who all of the campers genuinely felt cared about by, the fellow campers who made the atmosphere so fun, exciting and safe, and the people on and around campus who made for great writing prompts. Another plus was the ability to have our work published in an anthology. The anthology is a great way to see everyone else's writing and to keep it in a professional looking book for years to come.
~Ellen, an Inkstains high school camper

I really loved camp, and will (hopefully) return next summer. One of my favorite things was that we were given many topics. I liked that we had many choices as far as what we want to write about and what we wanted to continue writing, instead of being forced to write about cheesy topics. I also liked that we were encouraged to share our stories, without being forced, and that reading them aloud wasn't at all stressful. I really can't think of anything that I didn't like; camp was so amazing!
~Rachel, an Inkstains high school camper

During my two visits to Eastern, I had the best experiences. One of the best qualities of Inkstains is how relaxed and easygoing the atmosphere is. When I took my first trip to join Inkstains I fit in right away and felt at ease with the friendly and laid back teachers. All of them helped me with any questions I had on my pieces of writing. Another
wonderful trait of Inkstains was how well all of the activities helped each and every one of us find ourselves through our writing. It really helped me express my feelings on certain issues I had not been able to before. The one wish I have is that Inkstains was possible for teens who have graduated, but are still under, or are at the age of, eighteen. Overall, I loved Inkstains and hope the program continues for as long as possible.
~Malinda, an Inkstains high school camper

The list of good things about Inkstains could go on for a very long time. I feel like I could use some cliche (but still very true) statements about making new friends or the helpful and genuinely friendly staff, but writing teaches you not to go with your first instinct. So one "plus" is that Inkstains Camp helps you look deeper into your writing. The other plus is probably the fact that the different exercises we do are so varied, it really help reach around to everyone's unique mindsets.
~Alex, an Inkstains high school camper

I really liked how we were able to write in a free environment with no stress of having a due date. I also liked when we would be able to walk around campus and get ideas from the things that we saw! Oh, and I also liked the poetry slam!
~Sarah, an Inkstains high school camper

Inkstains offers opportunities that you wouldn't normally do on your own like listen to a song and use that as inspiration for your writing. It pushes you to try new things, and you become a better writer because of it. The adults in charge were more like older friends than instructors and I felt comfortable taking risks and sharing my writing. My ideas and overall quality of my writing are better now.
~Emily, an Inkstains high school writer

Personally, providing this opportunity for my kids to be a part of this dynamic writing camp experience and exposing them to learning on a college campus was my most favorite thing I did for them this summer. It will continue to have positive benefits for both of them,in ways they will not directly know, well into their future. I was amazed and excited to see that the program encouraged the interaction of all of the kids and gave them a fun environment to blossom creativity and build each other up.
~Coreen, parent of two Inkstains middle school campers

[My daughter] enjoyed the week so much. She and [her new friend] have kept in touch via texting. I am glad she was able to join the program for the week. I was comfortable with the supervision and instruction. What a wonderful opportunity to meet other young writers and gain confidence in her work!
~Erin, parent of an Inkstains middle school camper

[A]s a parent, it was great to see [my daughter] her so excited about writing. She shared her writing from camp at a few family get-togethers this summer, and actually made her Grandma and a couple of her aunts cry (in a good way!). She wants to come again next year, so well see you then!
~Sarah, parent of an Inkstains middle school camper

As a teacher of writing often bound to institutional standards, the Inkstains experience again reminded me of those aspects of the writing process that are unquantifiable and beyond objective grades: the inspiration that flashes across the face of a young writer as they gaze at a sculpture, the spontaneous laughter that ripples across the room as a newly-penned line is shared, the exhilaration involved in gathering the courage to read one's work in front of a large group. Thanks to a wonderful group of young writers and my co-teachers, I was reminded that the joy of writing is more about experiencing tiny revelations than achieving course goals and final papers. I returned to my classroom ready to celebrate the small stuff.
~Natalie, an Inkstains middle school instructor

Inkstains benefits me as a writer . . .
. . . by allowing me to experiment with new ideas for my classroom. Bonding activities, getting to know you games, writing prompts, performance starters--I get to play with all of those things and more in a super cool, super creative environment. And what better way to spend part of my summer vacation than by writing and teaching with a group of incredible kids and incredible teachers.
~Sean, an Inkstains middle and high school instructor

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