Here is instructor Jeff Page's account of our first week:

In a woodland locale perfectly suited to creativity and mosquitoes, participants in theYouthWrite 2013 Peak Experience buzzed and hummed through the rainy hills of Southern Alberta. On Sunday June 30, YouthWrite’s team of supervisors and instructors welcomed over forty young artists to YMCA’s Camp Hector for six days of laughing, writing, performing, writing, laughing, writing, socializing, laughing, writing, laughing and writing about laughing. By the time their parents picked them up on Friday afternoon, July 5, most YouthWriters suffered from cramps to their hands and faces alike.


Daily workshops were led by a team of award-winning, professional artists from a variety of disciplines. Discovering that writing is a creative process that springs from myriad influences, the YouthWrite campers were able to choose from this astonishing array of classes:


  • Laura Sunshine Burki – Letting it Flow – Yoga for Creative Writing (Yoga and Writing)
  • Cathleen Rootsaert – Who’s Game?  (Writing for Video Games)
  • Stephanie Chan – Write On, Online! (Blogging)
  • Cathy Ostlere – Call to Adventure  (Creating Heroes in Fiction)
  • Spyder Yardley-Jones – Col. Featherstone’s Expedition to the Centre of the Earth (SteamPunk Graphic Diary)
  • Trevor Nugent-Smith – Say What You Play  (Drumming and Words)
  • Vern Thiessen – Put It Up!  (Playwriting)
  • Jacqueline Guest – Past, Present and Future Writing (Fiction)
  • Thomas Trofimuk – Dancing With the Muse (Fiction)
  • Bob Jahrig- Write to Sing  (Songwriting) 
  • Don Aker – The Big Three (Fiction)
  • Jeff Page – Eye Say (Improvisational Role Play and Writing)


Renowned Canadian theatre director, dramaturge and teacher Stephen Heatley returned to YouthWrite for three days to lead Character Hot Seats. Stephen guided interviews with campers portraying original characters. From these interviews, writers were inspired to create a distinct fictional voice.


Nova Scotia author Don Aker mentored a group of disciplined writers on works-in-progress in YouthWrite’s annual Blue Pencil Café


Throughout the day, YouthWriters entertained each other with Inklings.  A series of short performances, Inklings brought campers together to support each other’s creative impulses. Some Inklings were songs, some poems. Pieces of larger works were highlighted. Writers who had never spoken their work aloud were humbled by standing ovations. 


In the evening, campers were treated to the comic BEEG SHOW. Performed in outrageous costumes by the camp’s supervisors, and featuring dynamic character turns by Gail Sidonie Sobat herself, each BEEG SHOW was hilarious.  The YouthWriters, many of them costumed themselves, howled as their supervisors offered witty little plays in the genres of Mystery/Suspense, Beat Poetry, SteamPunk, and the board game Clue.  Following each performance, the campers’ costumes were celebrated in a faux award ceremony.


The camp officially concluded with a brief but dynamic performance of selected works on Friday afternoon.  Unofficially, of course, YouthWrite 2013 Peak Experience continues to live in the work and imaginations of our gifted writers. 

Take a look at only a few of the exciting instructors who will be part of our YouthWrite Peak Experience this year! 
Our Very Special Guest:
Don Aker is a former teacher who is quick to point out that his work with teenagers shapes his young adult fiction. He’s the author of nineteen books, among them several bestselling novels that have earned numerous awards, among them the Canadian Library Association's Honour Book Award for The Space Between and the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award for The First Stone. Don lives and writes on Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy shoreline where, twice each day, he watches the world’s highest tides carve the landscape beyond his window. Those tides play a major role in the novel he is currently writing, a thriller that HarperCollins will publish
later this year.
The Big Three
Before you write any story, whether a novel or short fiction, you should first consider THREE BIG QUESTIONS. Curious??? Well, you won’t find out here, but you will in Don’s course! Discover what the BIG THREE are and how to use those three questions to guide your writing and create stories that are sure to resonate with readers.
Blue Pencil Café - Hone your words!  Polish your prose!  Dazzle your readers!  Get sound advice from our resident expert!  Meet one-on-one and tete-a-tete with Don.  Daily sign-ups on site at camp.
This Year's Fabulous Instructors:
Laura (Sunshine) Burki began her yoga practice in 2000 after a knee injury put an end to a strong and dedicated path in sports.  Her first yoga unlocked a new pathway and a new life journey:  Laura found inspiration to create passionate, creative and unique yoga and dance classes of her own.  She knew her calling was upon her and embraced the path.  Her classes are regenerating, creative and a pure celebration of the practice.  Laura believes yoga can be for everyone celebrates yoga, expression, dance, music and rhythm through Sacred Fusion, a series of unique classes co-created with her partner Trevor Nugent-Smith.  
Letting it Flow: Yoga for Creative Writing
Start the day off right and get those creative juices flowing through your mind and body.  Whether you know it or not, immense creativity is inside of you alive, kicking and just waiting to burst forth!  All that is required is that you step aside and let your dormant energies flow.  This daily morning yoga class will give you the time and space to absorb all your creative inspiration throughout the week, and gain insight and visualization from a calm, centered mind.  No matter what you write, or if you simply want to get your creative juices flowing, this workshop is for you, independent of yoga or writing experience and ability.  Bring a pen, a notebook, a spirit of adventure - and let yourself soar!
When Stephanie Chan first discovered her passion for computers they were bulky and used large 8-inch floppy discs that you would need 50 of just to store one mp3. But when not adventuring in the ever growing digital world, Stephanie found herself tearing through her sister's comic book collection. These two seemingly separate interests would eventually become the driving forces behind her diverse career. From web design to social media, from blogging to podcasting and from photography to comic book creation, Stephanie has strived to combine her love and technology and art. She has helped develop two major comic book news websites and worked on some of the biggest superheroes in the world. And when she's not working, she keeps up with the latest technologies and ideas, staying connected so her creative endeavors can stay current.
Write on, Online!
The Internet is for more than just sharing funny photos of grumpy cats and One Direction! Thanks to the World Wide Web, we are able to create our own stories and distribute them around the world without editors or publishers. Be your own boss and take full control of your content by blogging! Good blogging isn't just a matter of slick html and web scripts. It's about sharing your voice with the world. It's easy -- regardless of your technical skills! With an understanding of Internet culture and through the use of online tools, social media and emerging technologies, you can share your own stories and creativity with the entire world!
Jacqueline Guest began writing professionally in Grade 5 when she was paid twenty-five cents by her brother to write his Language Arts essay. She now has seventeen novels with topics ranging from ghostly encounters to violent video games. As a traveling author, she has two words to describe her adventures: buckle up! She has stood on an iceberg, flown a kite in a hurricane and worn bedroom slippers in Parliament. Jacqueline knows that READING ROCKS!
Past, Present and Future Writing
Ever wonder if time travel is really possible? Make your stories warp to a higher dimension as we learn the secrets to Past, Present and Future Writing! Can you alter the past?  Is the future a page waiting to be written?  All these questions and more will be answered in this progressive course that will test your Past, Present and Future Writing. WARNING: You will construct an Actual Time Capsule…
Bob Jahrig is an Edmonton singer-songwriter.  His songwriting reveals a love of language, melody and a search for beauty in the human spirit and the natural world.  Bob released a debut CD, Tree Tops in 2002, and a second, Colour of the Moon, in the fall of 2008.  In addition to performing at folk venues across Alberta, Bob has taught songwriting to youths for over ten years and as an artist in residence at public schools.
Write To Sing  
Discover the meaning and magic that happens when words on a page take flight on a melody.  In a supportive and nurturing environment, work in small groups to explore the process of crafting your words into meaningful songs.  While knowledge of music and ability to play an instrument are always helpful, the primary focus is on the writing process and how words can be wrapped around a melody.  
Trevor Nugent-Smith has made drumming an integral part of his life for over 12 years. As a teacher, Trevor has been widely well-received with his fun and playful style that engages all ages. He currently performs for yoga and dance classes with his company Sacred Fusion and has been involved in many community events, bringing his passion for the drum and its power to transform and uplift through performances and workshops for everyone to enjoy.
Say What You Play
Engage your musical and creative side as we construct rhythms and beats on West African hand drums and weave them into stories and poems. Before we can create, we’ll first learn the language of the drum. Once familiar with the drum techniques, we’ll activate our creativity and start to translate rhythms into our own stories as a group as well as translate individual poems and phrases into rhythms. We’ll also get a chance to play around with some other games and activities that explore creativity and expression through the drum and voice. Words and drumming fit so well together - come and play what you say and say what you play!
Cathy Ostlere’s first book, Lost: A Memoir, was adapted into a play that earned a nomination for a 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award. Her YA novel-in-verse, Karma, has garnered many awards and nominations throughout the U.S. and Canada including the Alberta Literary Award, a finalist for the W.O. Mitchell Award, and a commendation from the South Asia Book Award. She is a screenwriter as well as a poet, playwright and novelist. Cathy lives in Calgary.
The Call to Adventure
Good stories have heroes. Great stories have reluctant heroes – shy, sensitive, quiet thinkers who are forced to leave their known worlds and complete complicated tasks. Think Harry Potter, Bilbo Baggins, Peter Parker and Katniss Everdeen. In Call to Adventure we will explore Joseph Campbell’s three elements of the hero’s journey: the Departure, the Initiation, and the Return. Bring ideas for your reluctant hero and we will map a journey that will keep your stories full of exciting twists, turns and revelations.

Jeff Page is a professional actor, director, writer and teacher who writes for stage, radio and film. His 
stage plays include Love Letters from the Unabomber and The Granite Man and the Butterfly. He also co-wrote The Specialists, a CBC radio serial, and the screenplay for When the Pig Looks at the Matchbox, an acclaimed short film. In 2009, Jeff received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Alberta. He currently teaches drama at Red Deer College.

Eye Say
YouthWrite's VERY popular class is back! Create a unique world of vibrant characters and dramatic, suspense-filled situations through guided improvisation.  Activate your imagination in collaboration with others. Embark on a written exploration of this extraordinary world and the characters you invent.  Writing and drama in wordplayful combination!

Cathleen Rootsaert is an award-winning playwright and improviser who moved into the world of game writing. She has worked with EA/BioWare in Edmonton since 2008 where she wrote for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.  Aside from producing her own work, she has written for many of Edmonton’s theatres, CBC-Radio and CBC-TV. 
Who’s Game?
“I’d like to get into game writing, how do I do that?” The tools for creating and publishing your own game have never been more accessible. Taught by a writer from the game company BioWare, this class will explore what goes into creating a branching story for a role playing game (RPG). How do you create compelling story and character within the confines of making a game? Then we’ll create a simple RPG that you can actually play.
Vern Thiessen is one of Canada's best known playwrights. He's had plays presented in over a dozen countries, in six languages, including three plays Off-Broadway. In 2003, he won The Governor General's Award for Drama, the highest honour for a playwright in this country. He lives in New York City. Some of his plays include Einstein’s Gift, Lenin’s Embalmers, Shakespeare’s Will, Bird Brain and Vimy. He loves working with teenagers and is thrilled to be returning to YouthWrite after too many years away!
Put It Up!
Think of an idea. Create a character. Put words in their mouth. Repeat. In one short week, you’ll have gone from something that crossed your mind to a short play which we will put up on its feet, and see how it works. Turn your life into a play. Or dream a completely different world. Make drama real. Think, create, write, and with Vern ‘s help, put it up!
Thomas Trofimuk is an Edmonton writer who writes poetry, short-fiction, and novels. He has published three novels The 52nd Poem, Doubting Yourself to the Bone, and Waiting for Columbus. His books have garnered critical praise and he has won some literary awards. If you want to meet him, he’s that funny looking guy over there, at the edge of the party, watching and listening to everything you do and say.
Dancing with the muse…
Where do stories comes from? Are stories really dropped into the brains of sleeping writers by sleep-walking mice? Do the mice whisper novels at 2 a.m.? Is writing a great story really a painful ordeal? What about the muses? Where do they fit in? Do I have to drink a lot of coffee to be a writer? Do I have to know what a preposition is? (Yes, you do. In fact you have to know what a preposition is in order to get into this class!)
Spyder Yardley-Jones is an international artist whose shows have caused controversy with his thought-provoking images.  Spyder has been teaching cartooning and illustration for nearly a decade as Artist in Residence through the Edmonton Welsh Society in Edmonton schools. Formerly an educator at the Art Gallery of Alberta, he now instructs through Grant MacEwan's Continuing Education program.  Spyder illustrated the picture book, In the Graveyard, and has been teaching at YouthWrite for sixteen years. In addition to all of this, Spyder works as a preparator, installing shows at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Col. William Featherstone's Expedition to the Centre of the Earth
Create a steampunk visual diary!  Each day at camp will be a new entry into this adventure. Draw your alter ego!  Learn how to draw costumes, Victorian futurist machines, dramatic imagery and more!  Find that fictional place in time where Victorianism collides with Gothic horror and modern science.