Amplify Summer Camp!

Well, that’s a wrap folks! Amplify Summer Camp’s 3rd year has officially been a resounding success. We couldn’t be more thrilled with both the sheer volume of enthusiastic young authors in attendance, and the fantastic work we’ve had the privilege to witness. This year featured more students than ever before, and thanks to funding from the California Arts Council we were able to provide the camp for free to many deserving Inkers whose families would not have been able to send them to a summer camp otherwise. If you are unfamiliar with this program, Amplify Summer Camp is an exciting opportunity for youth to engage even more closely with our curriculum than would be possible in a typical workshop. This lively curriculum includes five, eight-hour days where incoming 4th-6th graders can let their imaginations (and pens) run wild! The result is astounding.

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As is often the case when writing, the most difficult part for a lot of us is knowing where to begin. Wordslingers Mari, Maria and Nora did a fantastic job of helping students avoid this pitfall. At the start of each morning, Mari and Maria guided the Inkers through a slew of activities designed to spark their creativity. For example, “story races” where groups race against the clock to create the longest story possible, each Inker taking turns writing sentences in different colors. The lengthy, colorful, and extremely silly stories allow students to get acquainted with one another and with the writing process. This element of light-hearted competition helps the kids push past the first sentence and into the exploration of their own unique voice.

In the afternoons, 916 Ink hosted a special guest artist each day to offer the Inkers a look into other avenues in which to use their words. Artist Cory Stillian brought some color and canvas to inspire their narratives through painting. Bigger Than Us Arts brought musical instruments to engage students through song. Rapper and children’s book author Orlando Molina, a.k.a. MC Zepps, introduced them to concepts like rhythm, rhyme, and flow to build confidence in the presentation of their work.

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As each session wound down, it came time for Inkers to select the pieces they wanted to be published in the book. To ensure each student had the opportunity to make it exactly what they wanted to present to the world, qualified Guest Editors worked individually with every Inker. Guest Editors open each students’ eyes to the qualities already present in their work that make it strong, and then ask questions about the piece to help identify places where more could be added and expanded upon. By showing them how the imagery and details in their piece intrigue the reader and add value to their stories, our youth are encouraged to create even more vivid descriptions and continue to build on their ideas.

As you all know, no program can be truly finished without a celebration. On September 12th, 916 Ink will host a book release party where students will not only receive two free copies of their book but will also be able to share their published works with friends and family alike. It has to be one of the best parts of a program, particularly the moment after the crowd erupts in applause and cheers and the once nervous student standing behind the microphone can hardly contain the smile on their face, mirroring those staring back at them.