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July 2-7 2012

Another very successful BC Youth Writers Camp was help July 2 to 7, 2012, at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College.  Sixty-eight youth between the ages of 9 and 18, both former campers, and new ones as well, attended the camp, learning to hone their writing skills, and learning about editing, illustrating, publishing, and more.

This year’s keynote speaker was 23 year old poet Amanda Lewis of Penticton, who, despite physical disabilities, is an active and enthusiastic poet and speaker.  The students were so impressed by Amanda’s presentation and her passion for writing.  They have taken home with them Amanda’s personal credo: “The impossible just takes a little longer,” and personally autographed copies of her book “One,” which were provided courtesy of Raise a Reader.

Each morning, the students attended lectures related to writing.  Presenter Karen Autio of Kelowna (www.karenautio.com) is an author of historical novels for young readers.  Karen shared with the students how to research and unlock history.

Presenter C.A. Lang, also of Kelowna, has written everything from historical fiction to experimental novels.  Lang presented a workshop on science fiction and fantasy worldbuilding, covering logic, social structure, religion, technology and magic.

Presenter Lorna Schultz Nicholson (www.lornaschultznicholson.com) is a full-time writer who divides her time between Calgary and Penticton.  She has published over 20 childrens, youth, and sports books. Lorna presented a workshop, “Page Turning Fiction!” in which she shared how to use breathtaking description, page turning plots, setting, gripping conflict, and real life dialogue to make a good story great.

Presenter Endrene Shepherd (facebook.com/endreneshepherd), of Penticton, has been writing, painting and drawing her entire life.  She has completed one book so far.  Endrene’s workshop, “Ready, Set, Illustrate!” gave participants a chance to view some famous illustrations from well-known children’s literature, and learn the “whys” and “hows” of selecting scenes from their stories for illustration.  She also led the students in doing illustrations for their own works.

Presenter Mary Ann Thompson is a freelance editor. Mary Ann’s workshop had the students get out the blue pencils and play with story.  Through games and editing exercises, they learned to transform boring beginnings, shake out muddled middles, and create thrilling endings.  Mary Ann also talked about what an editor does and the steps that go into publishing a book.

In the afternoons, students were involved in a variety of activities.  These included a book signing event for the “Gems of British Columbia,” in which each young author signed their own works in each published copy of the anthology; a “cowboy poetry” event led by PWAP poets Alan Longworth and Herb Moore, in which each student completed a “cowboy poem” of their own; an open mic young writers showcase talent event (plays, music, readings, and more), emceed by past camper Taylor Attril; a calligraphy event taught by calligrapher Dave Cursons; and a book store event at which the students had the opportunity to purchase books written by the camp presenters.

As always, the camp students sent in samples of their story writing and poetry with their registrations, and their work was published in the annual “Gems of British Columbia” anthology.  It is a great encouragement to these young writers to see their written works in print.

Many thanks to camp coordinator Yasmin John-Thorpe, and her volunteer helpers – PWAP members who critiqued the anthology entries, community members who prepared and served snacks and lunches for the campers, registration day helpers, the Rotary Club who provided the end-of-camp barbeque, and more.  Special thanks also to the generous sponsors, without whose support this camp could not take place.

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