Monday, July 23, 2012

My Bahamian Book Camp: Part One

The idea was sparked years ago, when I read a quote by SARK (or was it Sandra Dodd?) that expressed a wish for a summer camp that honored kids who love reading. That's exactly the kind of camp I would have loved to attend as a child. The idea was rekindled when I found information on the amazing Thalia's Kids' Book Club Camp in New York, where young readers read tons of new books, meet authors, and take book-related field trips throughout the city. I sent the link to my awesome former principal at the school where I taught for four years in The Bahamas, and she wrote back, "Why not do it this year?" 

Tom Angleberger speaks to our Origami Yoda fans.
(Yes, he's projected onto a towel on the wall! Island living...)
Through lots of work, on- and off-island, we created the Book Camp. Fourteen students (a full class at our small school) completed applications and received a copy of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, the first of three books they would receive during the week-long camp. This book was to be read before camp began, so that we could prepare questions to ask author Tom Angleberger, who kindly agreed to speak with us over Skype. During the week we read Wonder by R.J. Palacio, who also agreed to an interview, but was on vacation, so we emailed her our questions. Our third interview was with Kate Heald, Publisher from Macmillan's Caribbean division, who gave us insight into the industry. 

Chalk haikus on the old airport walls
Four hours of original content each day is a lot of planning, and it never went as expected, but this camp was so much fun. We did a lot of activities that don't fit into my regular English classes, as well as some classics that I know everybody loves. This included: writing six-word memoirs as introductions, a book cover scavenger hunt, word games, book title poetry, writing stories based on The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, writing book reviews, chalking our haikus on the walls of an abandoned airport, and even creating an original silent film. 
Students complete a book cover scavenger hunt.
One of my favorite moments of the week happened during our conversation with Tom Angleberger. I've always wanted to do an Oprah-style giveaway, so while we were speaking with Mr. Angleberger, we told the campers that we had a surprise, then brought out the second book in the series, The Revenge of Darth Paper. It had to be a great feeling for an author to hear cries of "Yes!" and see kids dive into the novel before the conversation even ended. Some of the sweet comments that students made: "I'm going to love this book forever, even when I'm twenty-one" and "I'll dust this book every day!" 

Another great moment was during the last day, when I made the campers cookies and gave them the surprise gifts of several recent releases, which I reviewed for Young Adult Books Central. They were so excited and ready to dive into a summer of reading. 

One of my favorite examples of Book Title Poetry.
In Part Two, I'll share the resources that were useful to me while I prepared for camp.


  1. I would have loved to go to a camp like this as a kid =) Sounds like you and the campers had an amazing time! I especially like the book title poem at the end =)

  2. Thanks! It was really fun and unique...I hope to do it again next year!


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