Young Writers Camp Announces New Grade Levels

Young Writers Camp Announces New Grade Levels
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Students show off their certificates after reading published work in 2016.

Young Writers Camp Announces New Grade Levels, Locations in 2017; Writing Opportunities Span from 1st-12th Grade and from Buellton to Thousand Oaks 

Program continues growth through neighborhood school partnerships and return of specific genres 

The Young Writers Camp – a nonprofit program of the South Coast Writing Project at UCSB – announced plans to once again expand its reach in 2017 with several new and continued services, including:

  • Our first ever grade 1-2 program at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Barbara,

  • 7-12 grade Playwriting Workshop and 7-9 grade Digital Writingcamp at UCSB,

  • 3-9 Creative Writing at UCSB

  • 4-9 program at Jonata Middle School in Buellton.

  • 3-9 grade program at Cal Lutheran University

  • All day camps at UCSB (by combining morning and afternoon offerings)

Camp Director Nicole Wald stated, “We’re very excited about the opportunity to serve incoming first and second graders, especially because it is at a neighborhood school that local families can easily access.” She continued, “We had fellows who really wanted to bring these programs to life, and my job as director is to help the fellows see their vision through.”

Former Monroe School Principal Celeste Darga and current Roosevelt kindergarten teacher Megan Arce will lead the camp for incoming first and second graders, which will offer free breakfast and lunch to attendees. Additionally, Franklin Elementary Principal Casie Kilgore is running a scholarship contest that will allow two of her students to attend the camp free of charge.

Now in its 27th year, the camp has traditionally been offered to incoming 3-9 graders with the aim of providing students access to the best and most inspiring writing instruction available. In 2016, the camp’s open enrollment sessions across four locations from Thousand Oaks to Buellton served nearly 300 students, while a closed partnership with Oxnard School District served approximately 150 more.

A typical day at camp includes daily journal writing and structured writing workshops, including time for peer mentor groups. This leads to a deeper understanding of the writing process and what it means to be a part of a writing community.

  • In Creative Writing camps, students engage in a broad spectrum of fiction and nonfiction genres, from poetry to narrative, expository to memoir, and more.

  • In Digital Writing, the same broad spectrum is supplemented by writing experiences unique to the digital world.

  • In the Playwriting Workshop, students go deep into this genre with drama exercises, readings, and other experiential learning opportunities to write a full 10-page script.

Also common to camps are a wide range of arts, walking field trips, and esteemed guest speakers who may be authors, journalists, poets, or other community experts. These provide a rich set of experiences to write from. On the final day of camp, families are welcomed for a potluck celebration where writers read their published work from a camp anthology.

The camps are loosely modeled on practices the teachers have engaged in themselves. Every group of 20-25 students is co-taught by two teachers who have participated in the intensive month-long SCWriP Summer Institute, deepening their understanding of the art of teaching writing while also honing their own writing skills.  

The level of instruction across all camps is high caliber: Valerie Hobbs, an acclaimed local youth lit author, will be teaching at UCSB this year, along with her husband, Jack Hobbs, a local legend in high school English. At CLU, Ian Foutz, another youth lit author and teacher will teach. Multiple teachers across the camps have been Teacher of the Year for their schools or districts.

“The magic of camp is most apparent at the end, when kids who were barely writing a paragraph at the start are turning out multiple pages,” commented one long-time teacher and award-winning children’s book writer Amada Irma Perez. “The kids begin to view themselves as writers, and walk away more confident in their writing skills and ability.”

The junior high and high school Playwriting Workshop at UCSB shifted the model of camp a bit by focusing on one genre and on older students. Every student walked away having authored their own play under the expert guidance of Phil Levien and David Holmes, Santa Barbara teaching legends who led the San Marcos High School drama program until 2014, when both men retired from teaching – Levien after 20 years, Holmes after more than 30 – to continue their acting careers.

The other second year offering at UCSB, Digital Writing, doesn’t so much shift the model as expand upon it. Students will still engage in all the fun and inspirational variety of writing genres Young Writers Camps are known for (and will still have a physical journal to write with paper and pen), but will also incorporate 21st Century types of composing, which might include creating blogs, videos, or other digital technologies that enhance and expand on the writing process.

Also returning this year is a camp for 4-9 graders at Jonata Middle School in Buellton, the second time this school will be partnering with UCSB on a Young Writers Camp program.

“I see this as an opportunity to cultivate a community of writers, both in our district and in the Santa Ynez Valley,” stated Jonata principal Hans Rheinschild. “It will also benefit our students by extending learning opportunities through the summer.”

A final continued effort this year is the first ever campaign for community support. The first half of the campaign focused on raising funds through a benefit reading, held on Monday, March 14 at San Marcos High School with the school’s Writers’ Society to raise scholarship funds for the new Playwriting Workshop. The next phase is a GoFundMe Campaign, where contributors can earn prizes like YWC t-shirts, personalized work from students, and more. To contribute, go to The campaign goal is to raise $4,000, enough to provide full and partial scholarships to at least 15 campers in 2016.

An early bird registration rate of $275 is available through May 15 for all camps, after which the price increases. Sibling discounts, scholarships, and school group discounts are available. All skill levels are welcome, with the main prerequisite being a love of writing, or at minimum an openness to learning about writing.

Application materials can be downloaded from the SCWriP website: For more information or help with registration, call Young Writers Camp Office Coordinator Lisseth Murillo at (805) 893-5899 or email [email protected].

Camp schedules and available locations are listed below. All grades are for students entering that grade in the 2017/2018 school year:

Jonata Middle School in Buellton (Grades 4-9)

  • June 19-30

  • Monday-Friday9:00am – 12:30pm

Franklin Elementary School in Santa Barbara (Grades 1-2)

  • July 17-28

  • Monday-Friday8:30am – 12:00pm

    • Breakfast: 800am – 8:30 am

    • Lunch: 12:00pm – 12:30pm

UC Santa Barbara (Grades 3-12)

  • Creative Writing Morning Session 1  (Grades 3-4, 5-6, 7-9)

    • June 19-30

    • Monday-Friday9:00am – 12:30pm

  • Creative Writing Afternoon Session 1 (Grades 3-4, 5-6, 7-9)

    • June 19-30

    • Monday-Friday1:00pm – 4:30pm

  • Creative Writing Morning Session 2 (Grades 3-4, 5-6)

    • July 10-21

    • Mon-Fri 9:00am – 12:30 pm

  • Digital Writing Camp Morning Session (Grades 7-9)

    • July 10-21

    • Monday-Friday 9:00 am – 12:30 pm

  • Digital Writing Camp Afternoon Session (Grades 7-9)

    • July 10-21

    • Monday-Friday 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm

  • Playwriting Workshop (Grades 7-12)

    • July 10-July 27

    • Monday-Thursday 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks (Grades 3-9)

  • July 10-21

  • Monday-Friday 9:00 – 12:30 pm


About Young Writers Camp

Young Writers Camp, a nonprofit program of the South Coast Writing Project (SCWriP) at UCSB, began in 1990 as a way to inspire a love of writing in youth and provide SCWriP fellows extended professional development opportunities in the summer. The camp has served thousands of children across the Central Coast, from Thousand Oaks to Santa Maria, providing a nurturing environment for students to grow their writing confidence and skills. Learn more at or join the community at

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