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NMSU offers young writers camp for middle, high school students

New Mexico State University is hosting a summer camp titled “Ink Spilling and Pixel Piling: An adventure for young writers.” The weeklong day camp runs from June 22-26. Workshops will include creative dramatics, poetry, creative nonfiction and short story writing.

Man wearing a hat points to a page in a book while a girl watches
NMSU doctoral student Michael Alarid is shown working with area middle and high school students during a previous summer creative writing workshop hosted at NMSU. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

This is the third year the Borderlands Writing Project and the English department in NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences have sponsored the program, which gives writers from 7th – 12th grades the opportunity to explore their abilities with professional writers.

Writers working as guest speakers this year include novelist David Holden, playwright Amy Lanasa, playwright David Spence, and writer, actor and director Monika Mojica.

“BWP's Ink Spilling and Pixel Piling is a writer's colony for young people,” said camp leader Amy Simpson, an English instructor at Arrowhead Park Early College High School. “It's a creative and supportive space for students to pursue the kinds of writing they are interested in--not writing for a grade, or a teacher, or a test.”

Camp leaders say they plan to focus on helping students take ownership of their creative process in a way to help them feel more in control of their writing. It will allow students to express themselves in a variety of forms including theater games and performance possibilities.

“Many of our campers have attended the past two years and plan to come again,” said camp leader Gail Wheeler, an English and history teacher at Crossroads in the Las Cruces Public Schools. “We have teachers who work with many different students, so those who feel less-confident in their writing shouldn't hesitate to join us--this is one time where spelling will NOT count, and fun is the objective.”

The camp is scheduled between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. for five days at NMSU’s Clara Belle Williams Hall, room 229. There is space in the camp for 25 students. The cost per student is $50 but a limited number of scholarships are available.

Students will present their work at the end of the week during a special event on Friday, June 26.

“We’ve had great feedback from parents and kids in the past two years. said Patti Wojahn, NMSU English professor and director of NMSU’s Borderlands Writing Project. “This year should be the best one yet, with innovative teachers from the schools along with award-winning writers and artists.”

“Young writers will write for the sake of writing: exploring; inquiring; challenging; creating,” Simpson said. “And they'll do so in the company of other writers--professional and novice--who listen, coach, celebrate, and write along side the students.”

For questions or more information about the camp, email bwpsummerwritingcamp@gmail.com or call NMSU’s English department at 575-646-3931 and leave a message for the Borderlands Writing Project.