Southern Utah Write Out Camp Helps Develop Personal Connections
Teens ages 13 through 18 from throughout Utah and all over the country gathered at Southern Utah University for the Write Out writing camp June 28-30. Students had the opportunity to work with bestselling authors Brandon Mull, Ally Condie, Brendan Reichs, Margaret Stohl and Ann Dee Ellis one on one and in workshop settings.
Day one of the event included checking in and meeting up with the other teens participating in the event. In the opening keynote addresses, each of the authors introduced themselves and encouraged the students in their writing endeavors. “Creative jobs are real and possible,” said Margaret Stohl as she encouraged students to go after their dreams.
Each day of the camp, students attended writing workshops where the authors presented ideas on writing and students were able to interact with and ask questions of the authors. “Sitting down with the kids and talking writing and seeing how they connect…that was very satisfying,” said Brandon Mull. Author Brendan Reichs also enjoyed his time with the students. “It’s been an amazing production they put together. The kids have been so 100% committed. It’s a really wonderful program,” said Reichs.
Some students signed up for one-on-one author critiques where they brought a few pages of their own manuscripts and had the opportunity for an author to read and give them feedback on their work. “I love hearing their manuscripts…I thought that was so fun to hear their stories and hear them talk about it and go back and forth. I think it’s exciting,” said Ann Dee Ellis.
Students also participated in various other activities, including touring the campus museums, exploring workshops about writing-based careers, and attending a play at the Shakespeare festival. One of the highlights for many was the trip to Bryce Canyon where the students and authors went on a hike and looked for inspiration for their writing. “Going to Bryce was amazing. I’ve never seen any of those canyons before so I really, really enjoyed it. That was a great hike,” said Reichs.
A powerful element for many in attendance was the personal connections and friendships made from the experience. A common phrase heard around the camp was “These are my people.” Ally Condie, creator of the Write Out camp, was excited about the connections the students made. “The way the kids were connecting to each other…They only had three days together…most of them did not know each other coming in and by the end everyone was handing out email addresses and making plans to write a book together…that was one of my favorite things,” said Condie.
Two students from Enterprise attended the camp, and both plan on attending again. “This has been one of the best experiences of my life, not just for the writing, bu for the people,” said Emily Shurtliff. “I felt like I came home…if I could only do one camp every year, it would be this.”
Emily Dunford also attended the camp and felt like it was a wonderful experience. “I had a blast talking with people and learning and growing in a way I hadn’t known before…I seriously hope they do this again next year. I will most definitely come again,” said Dunford.
McKenzie Allen traveled all the way from Boston to attend the camp, and when asked what her favorite part of the experience was, she replied, “All of it…the fact that everyone is just as nerdy as me. I found my people,” said Allen.
The Write Out camp culminated with student readings of some of their own work followed by a keynote speech from Brandon Mull where he told the students, “The best unique thing you can give to other people as a writer is yourself.” After dinner and the keynote address, students changed into costumes and danced the night away at a costume gala.
Alec Jones from Sandy didn’t want the event to end. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It made me feel like I can really do something. I’m definitely coming next year,” said Jones.
For more information and details about the camp, go to www.writeoutcamp.org or follow @writeoutcamp on instagram and twitter. Those interested in sponsoring future Write Out camp endeavors can go to www.writeoutcamp.org/donate for more information.
WriteOut 2017 Authors
Ally Condie is the author of the MatchedTrilogy, a #1 New York Times and international bestseller. Matched was chosen as one of YALSA’s 2011 Teens’ Top Ten and named as one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of 2010. The sequels, Crossed and Reached, were also critically acclaimed and received starred reviews, and all three books are available in 30+ languages. Her newest books are Atlantia and Summerlost.
Brendan Reichs was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. After three long years working as a litigation attorney, he abandoned the trade to co-write the Viralsseries. The first book in his new solo young adult series, Nemesis, will be published March 21, 2017, by Penguin Younger Readers. Brendan is also a member of the Executive Board for both YALLFEST and YALLWEST young adult literary festivals.
Brandon Mull is the author of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journalbestselling Beyonders series and Fablehavenseries. He spent two years living in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile where he learned Spanish and juggling. He once earned a gold medal in a pudding eating contest in the park behind his grandma’s house. He always secretly wanted to write books and is contentedly living his dream.
Margaret Stohl is a #1 New York Timesbestselling author with a 16-year career in videogames. Her internationally bestselling Beautiful Creatures novels have been published in nearly 50 countries and released as a feature film from Warner Brothers. She also wrote the Black Widow series from Disney Publishing and her first sci-fi series, Icons, is in development as a feature film with Alcon Entertainment.
Ann Dee Ellis is the author of three young adult novels (This is What I Did:, Everything is Fine, The End or Something Like) and one middle grade novel (You May Already be a Winner). Her books have received multiple starred reviews and other honors. Ellis teaches creative writing and rhetoric at Brigham Young University. When she’s not writing and teaching, she’s wrestling one of her five kids or hiking in the foothills with her husband.