PLYMOUTH — Seven grade-school students clutch their notepads and anxiously eye each other in a Plymouth State University classroom as they prepare to share their inner-most thoughts out loud.
The students are part of the National Writers Project (NWP) summer writing camp, and today culminates their efforts as they read their work to each other, their teachers and family members. The camp’s goal is to help young people improve their writing skills; PSU English Professor Meg Petersen organizes the week-long camp and says the children are taught a variety of writing styles and encouraged to have fun developing their own voices in it.
“We want children to develop a sense of joy in writing and to have them work on their writing in a situation where they are not pressured,” Petersen said. “Our goal is to have them come out of the camp loving to write; that’s our most important goal.”
“Many children in schools think of writing as something that they have to do, it’s forced and difficult, and unless they discover the joy in it, they’re not ever going to be able to do it really well,” Petersen added.
Michael Bramer, who will enter sixth grade in Campton Elementary School this fall, said he enjoyed the camp.
“I learned writing is much easier than I thought — it was fun,” said Bramer. “I got to write stuff that I really liked, and I got to write stuff that I didn’t know about, like poems.”
This is the eighth year PSU has hosted a summer writing camp. NWP writing camps are also held in Hampstead, Peterborough, Meredith, Concord and Laconia.
In addition to the writing camp for children, PSU also hosts a weeklong workshop for writing teachers, dedicated to improving the quality of writing instruction throughout New Hampshire.
The teachers work closely with the students during writing camp, gaining valuable experience in instructing students on how to improve their writing skills.
Founded in 2002, the National Writing Project in New Hampshire, (formerly Plymouth Writing Project) is the New Hampshire chapter of the National Writing Project, and is based on the belief that access to high quality educational experiences is a basic right of all learners and a cornerstone of equity. The National Writing Project focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation’s educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners.