2021 Summer Camps
In person offerings: The Telling Room has been actively following the progression of COVID-19. In the interest of following public health guidance from local, state and federal authorities, in person summer programs will take place primarily outdoors. We will also ensure face masks are worn (indoors and outside) by students, teachers, volunteers, and interns, physical distancing is practiced, and hand hygiene is emphasized. All our in person offerings will rely on as much outside time as possible, using indoor space for bathrooms, inclement weather, and as a base of operations. We will provide registrants with any necessary updates.
Virtual offerings: These camps are filled with just as many possibilities for robust writing, online sharing, connecting with other young writers, and the same Telling Room verve you've come to rely on— all with regard to not overwhelming with screen time. Time online will vary from camp to camp. All participants will need access to the internet as well as a device with video and/or audio capabilities. This year we've added options that meet once a week over several weeks for increased flexibility.
We have a limited number of scholarships available for these sessions. To find out about our summer camp scholarships, click here.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns at email@example.com.
WEEK-LONG VIRTUAL CAMPS
These camps run from 9:30am-3:30pm overall window and use a mixture of Zoom sessions and off-screen activities during that window to limit screen time. A sample schedule might look like:
9:30-11:30: Group Zoom: time with games, writing prompts, and both on and off camera activities.
11:30-1: Working Lunch (time to write, eat, nap, play outside!)
1-1:30: Optional one on one writing feedback time
1:30-2:30 Small group activities & sharing time
2:30-3: Break (time to write, eat, nap, play outside!)
3-3:30: Group Zoom: time for sharing as a whole group
Find Your Writing Voice
This camp explores four different styles or voices you can use in any genre of writing. Have you ever noticed that some writers use fancy lyrical language and lush, beautiful images? While other writers sound like they're yelling at you from the last row in a Red Sox game? And other writers somehow get right to the heart of their emotional truth? These writers are using VOICE. This class will explore four voices: Straight Talk, Lost World, Journaling, and To Be Read and Sung. These lessons are adapted from the Jack Grapes Writing Method.
Dates: Session 1: 6/28-7/2
Session 2: 7/19-7/23
Ages: Session 1: 11-14
Session 2: 14-18
In this fiction camp, we’ll leave the real world behind and find new stories outside in our backyards and in our minds. We'll be inspired by fiction novelists, graphic novelists, short story writers, visual artists, videos, and even get to spy on our neighbors!? We'll meet in the mornings for writing time, fiction lessons, and readings. Students will break for lunch and work independently in the afternoons, and end their camp day in their small groups. These small groups will be based on age and stay the same for the whole week to encourage friendships. For this online camp, students will receive a Telling Room Summer Writing Kit including a journal, pen, educational handouts, and art materials for some lessons. At times, students will be asked to do activities outside if technology allows.
World Building and Mapmaking
A map is a promise of an adventure. You can be opening a new fantasy book or getting ready for a vacation, either map is sure to help guide you through a world of discovery. During this week-long camp we will explore the art of map making as it pertains to writing and storytelling. We will create mind maps of our own worlds and fantastical maps of imaginary places. Be ready for some daily art making, writing prompts, and explorations of your own surroundings.
Sometimes a story starts at the top of the page and keeps going until the end and that’s okay. But sometimes a story hides inside something else, just like hermit crabs use other critters’ shells as a home, and for that reason hidden stories are often referred to as “Hermit Crab Stories.” Hermit Crab Stories use the forms of restaurant menus, rejection letter, instruction manuals, math problem, dating profiles, and Craigslist ads to tell their stories. Here’s a mini-Hermit Crab Story:
Dear Partly Cloudy,
We regret to inform you that you have not been selected as a finalist for our annual Weather Report competition. The news cycle is highly dependent on wild and exciting weather news. People tune in when they hear there might be a big storm or a hurricane or even an extended three-day stretch of sunshine and high 70s. Nobody cares much about partly cloudy.
While your resume was impressively long, we also found it confusing. Some items in your portfolio seemed partly sunny, sometimes your work was downright overcast and drizzling. We’re just not sure you can fairly claim those experiences as your own.
We wish you luck in your weather career. Though, honestly, we’re not sure if anyone will notice.
The Weather Team
In this camp, we’ll explore and write a variety of hermit crab stories and essays, gleaning inspiration from the forms, our own stories, and imaginations.
You Don't Essay?
Want to get a jump on your peers and have some new skills to show off when you return to school in person? This workshop is for rising 7th through 10th graders who want to learn fun strategies for taking charge of their nonfiction writing.
This is staff member Nick Whiston’s 9th time teaching this camp and 2nd time running it virtually, and there are always new twists and surprises!
WEEKLY VIRTUAL CAMPS
The Lost Art of Letter Writing
Of course you know how to send an email, text, or dm to your friends...but do you know which corner of the envelope a stamp goes on? What’s the abbreviation for avenue? When’s the last time you stuck an envelope in a good old-fashioned royal blue mailbox? Sure your parents have forced you to send thank you cards after your birthday, but have you ever written your grandparents a thoughtful note of gratitude? Do you imagine what you would talk about with a pen pal? For centuries letter writing was the sole form of communication over distance and time. In this camp we’ll explore this lost art of the tangible epistolary. Malcolm Jones wrote, “The more one writes—the more relaxed the writer becomes, the more at ease he or she is in the act of writing and the more able to fully express thought and emotion. Writing a lot of letters will not turn you into Lincoln or Shakespeare, but if you do it enough, you begin to put your essential self on paper whether you mean to or not. No other form of communication yet invented seems to encourage or support that revelatory intimacy, as much as the letter.” The perfect mix between colloquial and formal, letter writing allows the real you to appear on the page. Sharpen your pencils and grab a stack of envelopes for this camp!
Dates: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 6/21,6/23,6/25, 6/28 & 6/30, 9:30am-12pm
#YouthVoices Book Club
Love to read books? What about books written by authors your age? Join us this summer as we read and talk about books written by Telling Room authors. We'll have conversations and debates, select favorite passages, and ask questions of the authors (including live with an author or two). We'll also use what we read as inspiration for our own writing. Come read with us!
Dates: 6/24, 7/15, 8/5, 8/26, 10am-12pm
Don’t Edit Your Own Soul
Dive into different. Have you written a hermit crab or braided essay? Poetry? When you write creative nonfiction, you’re writing across the divide between you and those who might misunderstand if they weren’t holding your words in their hands. Symbolism, metaphor—all the best literary devices are still at your disposal as you find new words and new ways to write your truth.
Dates: Tuesdays 6/29-8/17, 4-6pm
Read Me: Developing and Pitching Your Book Idea
Do you have a book idea brewing, or maybe even a manuscript but no idea how to share it with the world? This once-weekly virtual camp is for aspiring authors looking to wrap their arms around a book-length project. Students with a work in progress, or in mind, will learn how to create an effective outline, craft a compelling “blurb,” and pitch a book idea to prospective publishers, readers, friends, and family with a polished book proposal. Perfect for students applying to The Telling Room's Young Emerging Authors fellowship, or National Novel Writing Month fans. Fiction, poetry, memoir, essay, graphic novel, cookbook—all genres are welcome! Taught by Telling Room lead teacher and young adult novelist Kathryn Williams.
Dates: Wednesdays, 7/21, 7/28, 8/4, 8/11, 10am-12pm
Do you love spending time outdoors? Find yourself inspired by plants and animals? Channel that appreciation of the natural world in our Nature Writing Camp! We’ll delve into the power of descriptive language to bring a natural scene to life and share with readers all that you see in something as simple as a blade of grass or an ant crawling in the dirt. We’ll find nature everywhere — from a weed in a city sidewalk to a flower blooming in a forest — and discover surprising stories hidden deep within the world around us.
Dates: Wednesdays, 7/7, 7/14, 7/21, 7/28, 4-5:30pm
When stories offer their readers alternate paths, multiple endings, and new experiences to explore – then they become more than just a narrative, they become interactive. This camp explores this unique style of storytelling by introducing students to TWINE*, an open source program for creating digital stories with interactive elements, including (but not limited to) alternate story paths and visual text effects. Students are encouraged to think about the different ways a story can develop, the many turns characters can take, and how to craft an experience that excites readers to jump in again and again – all while being introduced to the basics of simple coding.
*Students will need access to a laptop or desktop for optimal use of this program.
Showcase of previous works
Dates: Thursdays, 6/24-8/12, 6-8:00pm
IN-PERSON OUTDOOR CAMPS
Are you a total foodie, a budding chef, or an enthusiastic eater? Join The Telling Room for an outdoor, multisensory exploration of food through poetry, journalism, and personal narrative. In and around Portland's Old Port, campers will visit a farmer's market and community garden and eat from some of the city's diverse and delicious food trucks, investigating the ways in which food feeds memory, experience, and community. Cost includes one lunch out and small food tastings throughout the week. (Note: Campers will access the TR studio only for regular, masked bathroom breaks and emergencies; this is an outdoor camp.)
Dates: 7/12-7/16, 10am-3pm
Format: In person, meets at The Telling Room but primarily outside
Art & Writing
Do you like to make art projects and write? Why not join us for Art and Writing Camp to do both? We’ll create our own worlds, use everyday objects to make something new in Inventor’s Workshop, watch characters come to life under our fingertips, and try out different types of writing to stretch our skills and thinking.
Session 1: July 26-30, 9:30am-3:30pm
Session 2: August 2-6, 9:30am-3:30pm
Location: The Telling Room: in person outside with some indoor COVID safe project time
Scatter Good Farm Camp - FULL
Please email Rachele (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be placed on a waitlist.
Do you love to tell stories and write, but also enjoy playing outside, exploring woods, digging up fresh carrots, and petting goats? This summer you can do both! Join the Telling Room at Scatter Good Farm for a Farm & Writing camp! We will split our days between writing and storytelling in a beautiful environment and working with our hands in the dirt, helping the farmers with vegetable production for food insecure families.
Scatter Good Farm is a vegetable farm in Brunswick, Maine that is best known as the home of Growing to Give, a non-profit, climate-friendly, biochar-enriched, volunteer-driven, certified-organic, grow-for-donation vegetable farming operation. In addition, Scatter Good Farm is the home of the Carton-Newlin family, periodic batches of organic chickens, and seven friendly Nigerian Dwarf goats!
Dates: 8/9-8/13, 10am-3pm
Format: In person at Scatter Good Farm in Brunswick
The Telling Room and the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School (HIOBS) are excited to offer this first-of-its-kind collaborative “Writers Expedition” for only $500, thanks to generous philanthropic support from The Whitehead Foundation. Participants will spend five days (four nights) rock climbing and backpacking with Telling Room teaching artist Jenny O'Connell and HIOBS instructors. This expedition will depart from HIOBS's mountain base in Newry, ME. Participants will benefit from both nonprofits' expertise in youth leadership and empowerment. Scholarships are available!
Where: HIOBS Newry base (possible transportation available from Portland)
* Exact drop-off and pickup times are TBD. We will be monitoring COVID guidelines and provide registrants with regular updates.