2023 has been a banner year for youth at ACW. From the debut of our teen writing anthology, to a reading by 4th graders for Poem Village, to our “My Dreams for My Community” essay contest, to our four-part YA Summer Author Series…we’ve been committed to making space for young writers and readers.

This August, with the help of our second Rainbow Lake Writer in Residence, Francesca Padilla, we hosted ACW’s first ever kids writing camp. Twelve campers in grades 5 – 8 joined us for 5 days in August to get inspired, pursue a story idea, create a physical book, and make copies to distribute however they please. We had students from right down the street here in Saranac Lake to towns as far as Westport, Keeseville, and Plattsburgh.

Led by YA author Francesca Padilla, this writing camp challenged students to imagine the books they want to see in the world and then create them. We had students write epic adventures spanning thousands of words to poetry collections on themes like color and environmentalism. Students worked solo during writing times and in groups for activities and exercises, often taking field trips to a nearby park for some fresh air inspiration.

“The most meaningful part of this residency was working with young writers during the camp, witnessing their varied but consistently fearless approaches to the work, and helping to bring their creative visions to life. The inherent creativity of children and teens continues to surprise and humble me, and this experience was no exception.” – Francesca Padilla, author and instructor for the camp

After all the twelve campers printed 5 copies of their books on Friday, we invited everyone to join us at the Adirondack Family Book Fest in Lake Placid on Saturday, August 19th to debut their new works for a live audience. Campers Evan Beech, Noelle Eney, Ellie Henderson, Rhea Mackey, Ida Schwartzberg, Keely Van Etten, and Julia Walkow sat at the ACW table to sell and sign their books to visitors of the Book Fair. Each of them sold out of their copies!

We’re thrilled with how well this group took to the assignments, but also with how they all got along, respected one another, and built new friendships. We understand writing is an important skill for young people to learn, but it’s also an opportunity to expand their social circle, practice sharing their voices and thoughts, and create artistic community at a crucial age. We look forward to offering more experiences like this in the future.

“I really enjoyed putting together my book of poetry and getting the chance to sell it at the family book festival alongside published authors. I also LOVED using the typewriter in the camp! Overall I appreciated how much flexibility and creativity the camp had.” – Ellie Henderson, camper and author of A Rainbow is Expressive

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