Thousands of people visited the Washington County Fair last week. They went on rides, looked at animals and ate lots of deep-fried food. But on Wednesday, July 25, about 30 young people dressed in bright green shirts walked around the fairgrounds and observed.
Then they sat and wrote stories about what they saw. It was part of a writing marathon they were doing for a Writers’ Camp. The two-week camp was held at Slinger High School, and culminated with the trip to the county fair.
The students hailed from Kewaskum and Slinger, and ranged in age from third grade through high school. In all, there were 32 youth in the program. This was the seventh year the writing camp was held in Washington County.
Robyn Bindrich, who works as a literacy coach for the Kewaskum School District, and Paul Walter, a teacher at Slinger Middle School, started the camp as part of the Fox Valley Writing Project out of UWOshkosh.
Walter had attended a similar camp for adults in 2010 as part of the National Writing Project, and Bindrich went to the camp the following year. The camp served as a writing institute about teachers teaching teachers.
After they had both gone through the summer institute, Bindrich and Walter came to a consensus. “We have to do this with kids,” they agreed. And that was the beginning of the kids’ camp. Once again this year, Bindrich and Walter led the camp for students in grades seven through 12.
This summer, the camp was expanded to include younger students as well. Kelly DeLaura, a fifthgrade teacher at Addison Elementary, led the “Young Writers Camp” for the students in grades three through six. Nate Grimm, a teacher at Slinger High School, helped with the writing marathon held at the fair.
During the camp, students were exposed to different writing genres. Their work included memoir writing, fantasy writing, writing from an object, flash fiction, poetry and humor. The young writers were given different prompts, and then they went on to complete a written piece.
However, students were not forced to complete any assignments. “We always say this is your time to write what you love to write about, this isn’t school,” Bindrich said. Some students wrote stories based on the prompts offered at the camp.
Others worked on pieces they had started before coming to camp. “Some were really excited to try everything,” Bindrich said. “I was really impressed with how many were willing to try the different kinds of writing.” Not all of the young writers completed all of their stories. “That’s OK,” Bindrich said. “That’s what writers do.
They take different things, and they experiment and see what works for them.” During their wiring marathon at the fair last week, the students worked off of different prompts. When they were near the animal barns, the students wrote fantasy stories based on “Charlotte’s Web.” When they were near the carnival rides, the students sat on the ground and penned scary stories in their notebooks about the rides.
And before they left, the students sampled some of the food. They took pictures of the fair treats and then wrote reviews about the tasty treats. When they finished with the writing marathon, the group took a short break in a tent before leaving the fairgrounds.
“We all sat down, and then without us even asking them to, the kids took out their notebooks and started writing, which was clearly just incredible. This group of kids we had, they were just so willing to write, and they wanted to write and produce original pieces of work,” Bindrich said. The following are stories written by students during the Writing Marathon held at the Washington County Fair last week.