July cover story: No summer break for learning

July 1, 2014

Students with their completion certificates on the final day of the 2012 camp. Photos courtesy of 'Young Writers Camp' program presented by the South Coast Writing Project at UCSB. Photos courtesy of ‘Young Writers Camp’ program presented by the South Coast Writing Project at UCSB.

By Frank X. Moraga / Amigos805

One key to success in higher education is early exposure to college and university life. If young people also happen really enjoy what they are doing during that exposure — all the better.

College and university exposure is the goal of the annual Young Writers Camp program presented by the South Coast Writing Project through the Gevirtz School — Graduate School of Education at UCSB.

For more than 35 years the program has used writing to create those opportunities for young people, grades three through nine, and their families.

This year the two-week, half-day program will begin on Monday, July 14 at UCSB, California Lutheran University, Oxnard College and Ventura College.

The application deadline has been extended to Thursday, July 3 and businesses and organizations can still call 805-893-5899 or send an email to youngwriters@education.ucsb.edu to make donations to sponsor individual students or families or click here for more information.

“It is a fantastic experience to get the kids to a college campus,” said educator and writer Amada Irma Perez. “For the summer they feel they are college kids. We start out at the college bookstore, where they buy all their journals and pencils. They love that experience and sometimes when we were at the Oxnard College campus they would take a short break and go to the snack bar and even go to the taco truck. That all adds to their experience.”

A student with his journal during a previous South Coast Writing Project 'Young Writers Camp'

The students learn about journal writing, nature explorations, projects in creative arts, and how to make professional presentations and also develop skills and confidence, according to organizers.

“We write indoors and outdoors; they write about what they see,” Perez said. “We do art projects, watercolor projects. We do so much in those two weeks. I really look forward to it so we can also do those activities. When the kids write the teachers write.”

Certified teachers for the program have completed extensive training in writing and are SCWrip Teacher-Consultants. Some of the programs can also be presented in Spanish because a number of the teachers are bilingual, Perez said.

“This will be my 31st camp, not year,” Perez said. “I used to do them every term at César Chávez School (Oxnard), four every year.”

Overall, Perez has been involved in the program for 12 years.

“I love it. Working with children who are also writers, you feel you are in a writing camaraderie. The teachers and students all write together,” she said. “I have taught at Ventura College, Oxnard College and César Chávez School and when I wasn’t teaching I was doing author presentations everywhere — at UCSB, Allan Hancock College, Cal Lutheran, Moorpark College and even one year at CSUCI.”

One year, when Oxnard College wasn’t available, the program shifted to the Oceanview School District.

“I go wherever it goes,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing to have all those kids in a positive writing environment.”

Perez said the children get lifelong learning skills.

“The camp is not just about writing,” she said. “The kids also learn to have confidence, develop their skills and learn how to present their works. They stand and read their pieces and learn how to receive and give criticism. They set up their own writing groups and it’s something they can take with them for the rest of their lives.”

“The final product of the camp is a class anthology,” she said. “The kids all end up being published and they all feel like they are authors, which they are.”

Students participating in a previous South Coast Writing Project 'Young Writers Camp'

Perez said many students have participated in multiple writing camps.

“There are some kids that have come to writing camp every year and some that have graduated,” she said. “While it maxes out at the ninth grade, they have come back to be junior assistants, but they also get to write.”

Perez has also stayed in touch with some of the students.

“There is one student I had at César Chávez,” she said. “I had her in the fourth, fifth and sixth grade as a camper. We have kept in touch and that is beautiful. She is a very gifted writer and has gone onto college.”

While parents usually drop off their children before 9 a.m. and then pick them up after noon, Perez said she has spent time over the years talking to parents about the positive impact the program has had on their children.

“You also see the parents at the supermarket and they stop and thank you,” she said. “A lot of the teachers who have taught are from the Oxnard and Oceanview school district and they have met the parents in town. (Parents) all say it was a very positive experience in their kids’ lives …. They tell us how much their kids like the writing camp and they can’t wait to go,” she said. “The kids say they like the camp because there is no homework, no tests and they can chew gum.”

The camp costs $295, but scholarships and discounts are available (10 percent) for multiple enrollments in one family.

The scholarships award fee discounts to families who need financial assistance. Students from such families must display a strong interest in writing and/or desire to be enrolled in the program.

“They have a scholarship and partial payments. Some parents can only contribute half of it,” she said. “It’s pretty good when you think it;s for two weeks, four days a week. That’s less that $150 per week.”

“Donors are always encouraged to give so there are people who can sponsor one child or can contribute to the scholarship program,” she said. “It’s a completely nonprofit organization.”

Registration and scholarship applications are available in English and in Spanish at https://education.ucsb.edu/scwrip/youth-family-community-programs.



Young Writer’s Camp 2014 schedule

The half-day camps for students are offered:

  • From 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 14 to 25 at UCSB (Grades 3-9)
  • From 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 14 to 25 at California Lutheran University (Grades 3-9)
  • From noon to 3 p.m. July 14 to 31 at Oxnard College (Grades 4-9)
  • From 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 14 to 31 at Ventura College (Grades 4-9)


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