About Word Camp

This summer, we invite young writers in grades 3–8 to participate in our free online word camp! For a week in late July or early August, they’ll spend an hour a day taking a writing workshop in the genre of their choice. Dystopian fiction! Comedy writing! Nature writing! In every workshop, writers will read fun sample pieces, work on projects that they’re excited about, and meet other kids who share their interests. No writing experience necessary — just passion.

Word Camp signups are now closed! Thank you to everyone who showed interest. We look forward to an incredible summer!

Word Camp Schedule

Session I: July 27-30th, 2020

10:00–11:00 EST — The Art of Fun-Sized Fiction: Short Story 101 for Middle Schoolers
Taught by Sophie Quaglia

This workshop is all about having fun with the short story! We’ll cover the basic elements that make short stories work and then we’ll take those elements and make them our own through creative exercises. By the end of the course, each writer will have created their own piece of fiction.

12:00–1:00 EST — Works of the Wild: Nature Writing for Elementary Schoolers
Taught by Olivia Wang

Crossing nature and writing has the unique power to help us understand both in a different, exciting light. We’ll create our own picture books, write haikus, and observe the presence of nature in unexpected places all around us! The goal of this course is to plant the seed of love for both writing and the natural world.

2:00–3:00 EST — Ordered Worlds: Dystopian Fiction for Middle Schoolers
Taught by Ian McCormack

What makes dystopian fiction so appealing? In this workshop, we will work together to learn about the worldbuilding, plot elements, and characters in the dystopian genre. Each writer will develop their own dystopian story throughout the workshop.

SESSION II: August 3rd - 6th, 2020

10:00–11:00 EST — Fragments of Our Past: Flash Memoir for Middle Schoolers
Taught by Farah Sayed

In this course, we will learn how to use a single moment to reveal something broader about ourselves. Instead of writing full-length memoirs, we will focus on developing a particular scene or memory, learning how to bring it to life.

12:00–1:00 EST — Puns on Paper: Comedy Writing for Elementary Schoolers
Taught by Amanda Bello

We'll be learning the ins and outs of making people laugh and putting it all into action when we write and perform our very own stand-up bits. You're a natural comedian. Now it's time to put it down on paper!

2:00–3:00 EST — Curses, Quests, and Quicksand: Mythology for Middle Schoolers
Taught by Erin Jin Mei O’Malley

Do you love magical creatures and exciting adventures? We'll be reading about myths from around the world and writing our own!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:What’s the structure of the workshop week?

A: During the first three days of the week, participants will learn about/read/write/discuss work within the genre, and then on the fourth day, they’ll share their pieces.

Q: Are parents invited?

A: As much as possible, we’d like this to be a kids-only experience, just like in-person camp. Of course we understand if parents want to verify our legitimacy on the first day of the workshop. After that, though, we encourage parents to step back and prepare to be wowed by what their kids write by the end of the week!

Q: What are the expectations for workshop participants?

A: Come with your Zoom video on and your writing brain prepared!

Q: How big are the classes?

A: Not very big. We want each writer to get lots of individual attention from the instructors, and we also want to maximize opportunities for kids to interact. Our workshops are first come, first serve, so sign up quickly before space fills up!

Q: Can I/my child participate in more than one workshop?

A: Unfortunately, no. We want to give opportunities to as many different kids as possible.

Q: Who’s teaching the workshops?

A: Undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania! A number of our instructors participate in the Kelly Writers House and broader writing community at Penn, where they’ve taken and taught writing courses much like these.

Q: Hmm, an hour a day doesn’t seem like enough time to write an entire story/memoir/standup comedy routine.

A: For some kids, it is! For other kids, we know they need more time. Each workshop is structured so that writers can work on their projects as much or as little as they’d like outside of the four hour-long periods. We’re flexible :)

Q: What if the writer is in the summer between fifth and sixth grade — do we sign up for the elementary or middle school workshops?

A: Decide based on the year the writer is going into. The elementary school workshops are for writers going into third, fourth, and fifth grades; the middle school workshops are for writers going into sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

Q: The program times are listed in EST. As long as I/my child can reasonably attend the workshop given our time zone, are the workshops open no matter where we live?

A: Yes! KWH Word Camp welcomes young writers wherever they are.

Q: After the workshop is over, what will I/my child leave with?

A: Writers will come away with a piece that they can share with their friends and family, and treasure forever.


Word Camp is funded by a generous grant from Kerry Sherin Wright, the first director of the Kelly Writers House. Each year, the Kerry Prize funds a student-proposed KWH program; the 2020 Kerry Prize was awarded to Rowana Miller (C’22) to create Word Camp.