Summer Camp at Bee Hive
Four wonderful campers—Liliana, Eva, Isabel, and Taya—joined us for our August creative writing camp. Allison, a bookseller at Bee Hive (and a published poet!), led the camp every day in writing, reading, crafts, and observational walks around town.
Imagination is so important to creativity, so we began each day with time devoted to free-writing: immersing ourselves in music or studying photographs for inspiration while keeping our pens moving across the page, writing down what we felt or thought of as we listened and looked.
Observation is also crucial when you want to write, so after our quiet time at the store we’d pack up our pens and notebooks and walk together to a nearby spot such as Railyard Park, the Farmers Market, or the Plaza. We’d settle ourselves in a good place to observe, and practice paying attention, taking notes about what we saw, smelled, heard, tasted, and felt. These observations became haiku and other short poems that included lovely lines such as this one by Liliana: “The grass is green, dark and light.” We made up metaphors and similes and talked about the differences between them while lying on the grass in Railyard Park or listening to the old-time band playing in the Plaza.
But what about inspiration? Back at Bee Hive, we’d gather around the table in the front yard and read books out loud to one another, including Matilda by Roald Dahl and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, noticing characters and setting and plot and discussing the different ways to narrate a story—first person, second, or third. Together we read the myth of Persephone and Demeter and then wrote our own myths about how the seasons came to be.
And let’s not forget play! Making things with our hands was also part of every day. One of our favorite crafts was folding paper cranes, which inspired us to read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. We were all so moved by this beautiful and tragic true story that we wanted to fold a thousand paper cranes and take them to the Children’s Peace Monument in Japan.
On one especially messy and memorable afternoon, we made pieces of handmade paper out of newspapers and colorful construction paper, embellishing them with lavender buds and hollyhock petals before letting them dry in the sun. We also made our own books out of paper and thread and used magazines and glue to create collages for the covers.
Eva said one of the things that she most loved about our week together was observing; Taya enjoyed writing with music; and Isabel was a fan of reading. Liliana adored origami, and folded accordion-style bookmarks that she gifted to everyone.
It was a special week spent making new friends and exploring creativity. There will be more camps full of reading, writing, and making in the future!