Summer Camp in Nonfiction: Explore, Engage, and Inspire

In-Person | Nonfiction, Poetry
Get away for five days at our Summer Camp in Nonfiction for inspiration, guidance, mentorship, community, fun, creativity, and growth.

Overview

In-person 5-Day/4-Night Workshop and Retreat

Get away for five days at our Summer Camp in Nonfiction for inspiration, guidance, mentorship, community, fun, creativity, and growth.

At the Highlights Foundation, “summer camp” is different than s’mores by the fire and hiking in the woods. (Though we do that, too.)

Our summer camp is a time to find the kind of encouragement for your writing that only a generous mentor can provide. To find inspiration and support. To be with a community that understands the long process of turning research into narrative. To work 1:1 and fine-tune your words and pitches while you have some fun.

  • This is an in-person workshop at our Retreat Center with keynotes, breakout sessions, mentorship, and ample time for independent writing, meeting informally with fellow creatives, and resting.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Begins at with dinner 5:30pm Eastern on Sunday, July 16
  • Ends with lunch at 1:00pm Eastern on Thursday, July 20
  • Pre-retreat Zoom to answer questions about submissions and discuss our summer camp community will be held on Tuesday, June 13 at 5:30pm Eastern (this will be recorded for those who cannot attend live)
  • 24 participants max

Why This Workshop?

This five day, in-person summer camp in nonfiction is centered on mentorship, inspiration, and community with:

  • opportunities for learning and interaction
  • ample self-paced time to make progress on a project, or play with your creativity
  • feedback that includes 1:1 mentorship with your faculty reader at the beginning and end of the program, and facilitated peer discussions, plus informal feedback throughout

Mornings will be structured around lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities. Afternoons will be for independent writing and revising, as well as meetings with fellow creatives (including your faculty reader and small group).

You will:

  • Take in educational and inspirational keynotes by our faculty. These will refresh your passion for the craft of writing nonfiction for children and teens, and motivate you to keep going.
  • Participate in breakout sessions focused on research tips, nonfiction forms and structures, evaluating primary source material, and more.
  • Explore factual writing through a range of topics, including nonfiction voice, biography, memoir, nature and science writing, and narrative nonfiction.
  • Receive guidance on how to submit nonfiction manuscripts to publishers who want to see them.
  • Work one-to-one with faculty on a project of your choice. Faculty reader/attendee pairings will be made thoughtfully according to your work and your goals. (Getting your submission in by June 20, 2023 allows us to make this pairing.)
  • Participate in small group discussions with a thoughtfully chosen group of fellow attendees. This small group style is designed to help you lead a discussion of your work in community with other writers, assisted by a workshop facilitator. Writers can share the same project they are using with their faculty mentor, or a new project.
  • Have ample free writing time built into this course so that you can stretch and work on your own projects. It is meant to be the perfect pairing of “retreat” and guided lectures.

Feedback Expected

  • Guidance and mentorship will be offered in two ways, both through our faculty readers and in your facilitated peer group. Our feedback sessions offer you support, as well as give you space to ask questions to help problem-solve, brainstorm new ideas, and work through challenges. You will receive comprehensive submission details closer to the start of Summer Camp.

    • Those writing longer nonfiction can submit up to 2,500 words from a current work in progress prior to the start of camp for their faculty reader. This submission should also contain a cover letter (including where you are in the project, your connection to this nonfiction topic, and specific questions you have for your faculty reader) and one-page overview of completed project.
    • Picture book writers can submit one full picture book manuscript of up to 1,200 words. This submission should also contain a cover letter (including where you are in the project, your connection to this nonfiction topic, and specific questions you have for your faculty reader).
    • If you are between projects or just starting out, you can submit a book proposal with a short writing sample or a one-page list of ideas and interests you are considering as the focus of your nonfiction project. This submission should also contain a cover letter.
    • In addition to submitting one of the above choices to your faculty reader, you will submit pages for your peer groups. These submissions can be from the same work-in-progress as given to your faculty reader, or a new project altogether (please follow the same length guidelines and cover letter requests).
    • Submissions are due June 20, 2023 to allow ample time for readers to take in your story.

This Workshop is a Great Fit If…

  • You love nonfiction and are eager to write TRUE stories. This workshop provides a comprehensive immersion into the world of nonfiction children’s books.
  • You have an in-progress or finished manuscript and would like feedback. Your faculty reader will give you feedback, answer questions, and support you in setting goals. Your peer group can help you consider your revision goals and plans.
  • You need a jolt of creativity or a reminder of purpose. Summer Camp can be about getting work done if you want it to be, but it can also be about renewing your spark and purpose in writing nonfiction for kids and teens.
  • You are working on a biography, a nature or science-themed book, a social justice book, and/or educational work for kids or teens. Our faculty is well-versed in these genres and markets and can help you craft an engaging book for kids and strategize ways to get it to market.
  • You’d appreciate some retreat time. This course has plenty of built-in time to write, draw, hike, or rest–whatever you need.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

Pre-Workshop
  • One week prior to your course, you will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards), and view details about the process for whole group workshopping.
  • Submission deadline: March 31. You’ll be asked to submit two complete picture book manuscripts, up to 1,000 words each.  One of those manuscripts will be the basis for your 1:1 consultation with faculty; the other will be workshopped with peers. Please draft a cover letter with each submission that states a little bit about your reason for writing the story, where you are in the project, and questions you have for your readers.
  • You are expected to read and become familiar with one manuscript from each member of the group in advance of the workshop.
  • You are asked to bring many projects with you at various states in process (ideation, drafts, revisions), as there is ample time to work on independent projects.
Tentative Retreat Schedule Overview

Mornings will be structured around lectures/keynotes, workshops, and hands-on activities. Afternoons will be for independent writing and revising, as well as meetings with fellow creatives (including your faculty reader and small group).

There will be several inspirational keynotes throughout the workshop by various faculty and guests.

There will also be  breakout sessions throughout the week led by our faculty and special guests. Each breakout session is designed to help you grow as a writer through hands-on exercises. You pick the sessions to attend live that most appeal to you.  Sessions that you do not attend live will be recorded and placed in your virtual classroom for you to view for up to 30 days following the retreat.

Your faculty reader will meet with you at the start of the week and at the end of the week. During each session with your mentor, you should feel free to ask questions and help guide the conversation.

  • You will receive written feedback on your submission and you’ll discuss this feedback during your first faculty reader meeting on the first full day of camp.
  • Your second meeting, on the last morning of camp, will be time for you to talk openly about revisions and changes made during the workshop.
  • Your faculty reader will support your goals for the week, whether you want to flesh out one piece for submission or identify the strongest concept for your work-in-progress.

You’ll meet with your peer group for workshopping between meetings with your faculty reader, over the course of two afternoons.

  • This small group-style is designed to help you lead a discussion of your work in community with other writers, assisted by a workshop facilitator.
  • Writers can share the same project they are using with their faculty mentor/reader, or a new project.

During the workshop, there will also be informal moments to meet and discuss your work with attendees and faculty apart from your faculty reader and peer groups. You will have the opportunity to share your work during breakout sessions and during an open mic session. We encourage you to engage in these opportunities.

Day 1: Sunday, July 16
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern:     Arrival and check in.
  • 5:30pm:                          Appetizers & Dinner
  • Following dinner:         Opening Session & Welcome
  • Followed by meeting with your small group facilitators for introductions
Day 2: Monday, July 17

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Keynote
  • Breakout Sessions (Your choice of topic. Select one live with access to a recording of the session you miss.)

Afternoon:

  • Lunch
  • Free writing time (optional writing prompt)
  • 1:1 Meetings with Faculty Reader

Evening:

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • After Dinner: Keynote
Day 3: Tuesday, July 18

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Keynote
  • Breakout Sessions (Your choice of topic. Select one live with access to a recording of the session you miss.)

Afternoon:

  • Lunch
  • Free writing time (optional writing prompt)
  • Peer Group Meeting #1

Evening:

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • After Dinner: A panel discussion with S’mores by the fire (weather permitting)
Day 4: Wednesday, July 19

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Keynote
  • Breakout Sessions (Your choice of topic. Select one live with access to a recording of the session you miss.)

Afternoon:

  • Lunch
  • Free writing time (optional writing prompt)
  • Peer Group Meeting #2

Evening:

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Open Mic on the patio
Day 5: Thursday, July 20

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Keynote
  • Breakout Sessions (Your choice of topic. Select one live with access to a recording of the session you miss.)

Afternoon:

  • Lunch
  • Free writing time (optional writing prompt)
  • Peer Group Meeting #2

Evening:

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Open Mic on the patio
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Commitment Required for the Best Experience

As an in-person event at our Retreat Center, you’ll have a chance to step away from everyday life to experience the workshop. We build in breaks and independent time so you have space for your personal needs. While we encourage participation in all group events, we know that as an adult learner you can decide if you need more time to yourself. Please let someone from our staff or faculty know if you plan to step away from group activities.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

How It Impacts Kids

Kids love reading about real people and events! This workshop will show you ways to put together accurate research and use storytelling tools to create compelling nonfiction. Get support, motivation, reassurance, and sense of community from fellow creators who share your passion.

Testimonials from Our Community

“I was matched with just the right mentor for me. Her background and passions matched mine, and she helped me see possibilities that I hadn’t been able to see on my own.”

“The faculty were not only very knowledgeable but warm and generous. Very high-quality faculty! My mentor was really helpful and encouraging and helped me to see approaches for my idea that I couldn’t have seen myself.”

“The faculty were engaged, generous with their time and wisdom, and human. It was really refreshing/important that many of them not only presented but also participated in various parts of the camp; that sent a great “we are all learning, all journeying together” message. Also wonderful that you had such a diversity of faculty in terms of race, nationality, gender, orientation, and expertise/place in the world of children’s books.”

DETAILS

July 16 - July 20

$1499

Highlights Foundation Campus

362 Boyds Mills Road
Milanville, PA 18443

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

Pay in full, or secure your spot with a deposit (unless otherwise noted).

LOCATION

All in-person Highlights Foundation workshops and retreats (including this one) are held at our Retreat Center: The Barn at Boyds Mills.  This site was the home of the original founders of Highlights for Children Garry and Caroline Myers, and is located in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Lenape Nation.

All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Free car service is available from the local airport, train, and bus station, or you can park on site. You’ll receive more information about logistics after you register.

Visiting Our Campus

Our campus (The Barn at Boyds Mills) is tucked away in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  It's a few hours from both New York City and Philadelphia, but worlds away from everyday life.

Line drawing of the Barn at Boyds Mills

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The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.

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