Creative writing juices flow at Orlando summer camp

Children learn to write without feeling perfection pressure

ORLANDO, Fla. – One local organization believes every child has a story to tell. At Page 15's Young Writers Summer Camp, campers write, illustrate and publish their very own book.

Educational program director Paul Driscoll tells us the group's name is a tribute to the founder Julia Young's grandmother.

"Her grandmother always said she had to read to at least page 15 before deciding whether to continue or to move on," Driscoll said.

At the writing camp, Driscoll tells us, the focus is less on mechanics and more on fluency and writing in an authentic voice. He says removing the pressure of perfection helps the creative process and tells us their motto is "I love rough drafts."

"We're taking away some of those obstacles and really encouraging them. Let's try things, it's OK to fail. In fact, I don't really understand what failure is. It's just part of the process. In fact, we celebrate glorious failures," he said.

During the weeklong camp, students work with coaches and educational interns. Oviedo High School student Bryn Garick attended camp as a 14-year-old. Now she's back as an intern, helping mentor elementary students.

"I love seeing the stories they create so I like being able to help them and foster their creative energy," she said. "They all have a story they want to tell and I really like that."

Gabriella Phillips, 9, wrote a story about her favorite topic, My Little Pony.

"So they're stuck in this dimension and they need to find their way out. I just came up with this today," she said.

Gabriella says she hopes to attend camp next year. According to Driscoll, the goal is to create a community of writers.

"Give them some constructive advice then activate them for more creating and writing. A lot of that is about enthusiasm for the work. That it matters to you and you're looking forward to seeing the end result," he said. "But what's inside of their hearts, what's inside of their minds, what do they want to create? If you start there then you get motivation and that's all you want as an educator, give me your best effort."

On the final day of camp, writers present their original, first edition book to family and friends. Page 15 is celebrating its 10th year in Central Florida.

Camps are available for students in second grade through high school seniors. The organization also offers an after-school program for middle school students in Parramore.

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