In connection with the WriteOut Foundation, Southern Utah University hosted the inaugural WriteOut Camp, a writing workshop experience for teenagers 13-18. The camp took place June 28-30, 2017. Students learned from published authors, hiked and wrote in Bryce Canyon National Park, attended a performance of As You Like It at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and enjoyed other activities such as a closing gala, author panels and signings, and on-campus activities and tours.
The following is written by Abigail Strasmann, a camp participant who met her favorite author Brandon Mull.
"WriteOut was a camp for young writers on the campus of Southern Utah University. Additionally, it was amazing. During Write Out, I got expert tips and training from leading children's and young adult authors. I met and developed friendships with creative, like minded individuals my age. There were many exciting and stimulating activities, including stage combat, hiking, a Shakespeare play, and information on going to college.
When I signed up, I was insanely, giddily excited to meet these authors. Brandon Mull, author of Fablehaven, Five Kingdoms, Beyonders, and Candy Shop War has been an inspiration to me since first grade. I remember doing plays based around his books with my stuffed animals. Those books are really, really important to me. They were what started me reading, forever trying to find books similar to them, and writing. The other authors were Allie Condie (the genius behind Matched and Atlanta), Brendan Reichs (nemesis, virals), Margie Stoll (beautiful creatures), and Ann Dee Ellis (You may already be a winner). I’ve always had stories in my head, but reading these books made me want to share them.
Turns out, I was in Brandon Mull’s group. It did not disappoint. Honestly, he's brilliant. During three classroom sessions with him, he broke down the elements of good storytelling, good world building, took questions, and gave us his favorite tricks for starting and writing good scenes.
This was one of the best parts of Write Out, for sure, but I can't say that it was the very best, because I can't decide what part was the best. Another really cool experience was that every single kid there was interesting, inspired, and loved to work with words. We had a lot of freedom in the camp because there were no problems with anyone- everyone got along and we had some really intense and interesting discussions. These people thought, and think, like I do. It was amazing to have such a concentration of intelligent, imaginative people around me.
Write Out wasn't just about sitting around and talking, because even though every bit of talking was interesting, having writing brains often means we don't really like to sit still and focus on one thing for a while. There was a lot of other things that tied into the general theme of the camp. We went hiking in Bryce Canyon, using the setting to inspire us. We got to know each other swimming in the rec center or working in writing labs. Also, we saw a play at SUU’s pristine new Beverley Center for the Arts. One of my favorite activities was the stage combat class, where we tried to capture the intensity of an actual fight.
On the final night, Brandon Mull gave a keynote speech. It was funny and entertaining while still being interesting and enlightening. After the speech, we hit the dance floor. It was an awesome way to end an awesome experience.
I would definitely attend next year. It has been the funnest and most interesting camp I've ever attended. SUU, five amazing authors, and tireless volunteers made this possible, so thank you.