YouthWrite Peak II Experience 2019

 Ages 15-19: July 7-12, 2019 at Kamp Kiwanis, Bragg Creek, AB


Course selection will open in June and will be based on order of PAID and COMPLETE registrations. If you want your favourite courses, please complete your registration ASAP!


Prepare your application documents - Info Sheet



For ages 8-11, please see our River Valley Daycamp Experience 2019


For ages 12-14, please see our Peak I Experience 2019

 Never been to Kamp Kiwanis? Visit this page for the address and a link to Google Maps.


Cost: $650 


(Price includes: tuition, supplies, meals, snacks, accommodation and entertainment.)

PLEASE NOTE:  We strive to make YouthWrite affordable to every applicant. YouthWrite Society Canada, our granting agencies, donors and sponsors subsidize 50% of the FULL costs to attend camp for ALL YouthWriters.

YouthWrite fees include 12 hours of daily instruction/activity led by highly qualified instructional and supervisory staff, round-the-clock supervision, three meals a day + snacks, all supplies and accommodation. Each participant receives a complimentary copy of YouthWrite: the Magazine.


Our Fabulous Instructors

Ghada Alatrash is a Syrian-Canadian.  She holds her PhD in Educational Research from the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.  She is currently teaching at Mount Royal University.  Her research speaks to the lived experience of the Syrian Diaspora in Canada. She is the author of Stripped to the Bone: Portraits of Syrian Women and she has been invited to speak on her book as a TEDx speaker.  She is also a Globe and Mail opinion columnist. Ghada has an MA in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma. She has also been profiled in several media including CBC, PBS, BBC, Aljazeera,and Gulf News, among others. 

 On Identity - During our week together, explore and write about the topic of "identity."  We will consider identity through different lenses, and critically think, altogether, about how our identities have come to define us as human beings in this world.  We will hear human stories and voices that teach us about other ways of knowing the world, and consider the forces that have come to shape our own ways of knowing and our identities.  We will write it all in poetry and/or short stories.


Timothy Anderson is a novelist, poet, librettist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer, editor, actor, classical singer, composer, researcher, university instructor, painter - against all the odds. He has performed in everything from children's theatre to Phantom of the Opera, been writer in residence with the Canadian Opera Company, publisher with The Books Collective, slagged in the House of Commons and applauded at Carnegie Hall. Dance while you can, write like your life depends on it.
The Wild Side (for ages 17-19) - An uncensored class giving form to rebellion, whether changing the world or imagining revenge. Flirt with forms to blur fact and fiction, to hide in plain sight. Turn your life into fable, manifesto, prophecy, and relish letting your words loose where their power can touch the lives of others.




Kimmy Beach is a writer, editor and mentor who has facilitated workshops across Western Canada, including Sage Hill Writing Experience, and a luxury gig (complete with hot tub) as Writer in Residence at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is the author of six books, the latest of which (Nuala: A Fable, UAP, 2017) she managed to hoodwink some jury into thinking was worthy of a shortlist nod for the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction. Though she occasionally wears matching Converse All-Stars, most of the time her shoes are different colours.

Get the Heck out of Your Own Head!: Writing the Poetry You Weren’t Planning to Write - Coming in with an idea of the poetry you might write while you’re here? Trash that! Our work together will involve lots of media (paintings, music, videos) that will get you out of your own bean and into writing what you didn’t think you were going to. This class is dynamic, fun, and above all, productive. Unless there is medical necessity, be prepared to write on paper with quaint, old-timey writing implements like pens and pencils.

Aaron Coates is a director, writer, actor, and the Associate Artistic Director of Cowtown Opera.  He studied acting at Mount Royal University and at École Philippe Gaulier in Paris. His writing credits include: Pratfall,The Pants, On a Twitch, The End of the Rope (shortlisted for the Writers Guild of Alberta Award for Drama), and the libretto for the opera Annie Davidson. Aaron spent nine years with Dirty Laundry, Calgary’s improvised soap opera, where he directed over 150 episodes.

Eye Say - Discover characters by taking a walk in their shoes! We’ll improvise to find out what makes someone tick and then write from that experience. Where’s the story going to go? You’ll be in charge of it. Through the creation of an improvised soap opera, we’ll dream up a vibrant group of characters and take them on a rollicking adventure.

The Unter Dynasty! - In the Okanagan Valley, boat-sharing service UNTER has been a major success. The Enderby family has become rich and are now living the life of their dreams. But when you’re at the top, someone always wants in—or wants to take you down! The children are vying for control of the company, the CEO is fighting a new competitor, and family friends are not what they seem. Will the Enderbys stay afloat or sink into the murky darkness?


Laurel Deedrick-Mayne is an Edmonton writer whose debut novel, A Wake For The Dreamland won the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award (ARCA) in 2016, the Whistler Independent Book Award (WIBA) in 2018 and has been on Edmonton’s Best Seller List for 80 weeks. A late bloomer to publishing but a life-long third generation letter and story writer, Laurel celebrates the ‘love that dared not speak it’s name’ while paying tribute to the generation who took the time to hang on to family letters, clippings, stories and poetry — all those ‘treasures’ that inspired A Wake For The Dreamland.  Laurel is also a supporter of YouthWrite through her workshop, “Writers of the Lost Art”, offering young people hands-on experience in letter writing and mailing using multiple mediums from quill and ink to typewriters.

Writers of the Lost Art -  Forget texting, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook messaging. Explore the old-timey lost art of handwriting letters to loved-ones, strangers, the famous or infamous. There’s nothing like sending and receiving something in the mail or discovering long-lost letters in an old attic trunk, in a bottle or behind the walls of an ancient house.  Bring your favourite pen and at least four (4) postal (mailing) addresses. We’ll use old typewriters, quill and ink, a variety of paper (maybe we’ll even make our own) wax seals, postcards and postage stamps. Oh yes, and we’ll also look at how integrating letters in your fiction can be a wonderful way to shape character, develop plot and add tension or mystery to your work.


Kris Demeanor is a songwriter, poet, theatre and film artist who has released seven recordings of original songs, most recently Entirely New Beasts. Kris was the inaugural Poet Laureate of Calgary (2012-14) and co-edited with Dymphny Dronyk The Calgary Project, a compilation of poetry by Calgary writers.  HIs most recent publication is the instructional manual How to be an Asshole of Calgary. In 2015 Kris was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award as best supporting actor for his role in the film The Valley Below. Recent work includes Making Treaty 7, a multi-disciplinary show featuring First Nations and non-aboriginal artists illuminating Alberta's history, writing songs for CBC’s The Irrelevant Show, collaborating with Ian Tyson on two songs for his latest record; and Shelter From the Storm, a songwriting project with clients of Calgary's Drop-in Centre. This past October, Kris debuted his one-man show of music and monologue, Russell: Straight Up, a comedic take on the enabled white male.

Lyrical Miracles - If you write poetry, stories, or spoken word, you’re already a songwriter! A beat and a melody can be the perfect delivery system for creative language, and you don’t have to know how to play a note on an instrument to write an amazing song lyric. Feel a level of comfort and confidence in the world of marrying lyric with sound, and celebrate your individual voices as well as experience the singular joy of musical collaboration with others. (If you've got an instrument, bring it along!)


Wally Diefenthaler loves his ‘76 VW Westphalia almost as much as he loves teaching. More importantly he loves learning, teaching, thinking, and living the dream. A long time social studies teacher, Wally has been around long enough to remember the ‘60s, revile the ‘90s and embrace the present. Along the way he's had time to think, talk and write about how he arrived at this moment. How do we know who we are and what we could become? We stop, look and listen to our world to find our place in it. It’s the journey not the destination.

I see my light come shining                                             

From the west unto the east

Any day now, any day now

I shall be released. - Bob Dylan 1967

Thinking Critically! Acting Thoughtfully!-  How do we address issues of injustice and privilege? What can we do to increase awareness about environmental concerns both locally and globally?  Let's begin by thinking and talking about questions and issues that we face in our personal and public lives. How do we foster hope and courage to meet the challenges that seem overwhelming to us? How do we act thoughtfully to make meaningful change? Let’s take the week ahead of us to reaffirm who we are and think about where we are going and what we want in this beautiful world. Let’s look, listen and write! Let’s dance!  Let’s create beautiful words! Let’s have fun! 


Jacqueline Guest, international award winning author of nineteen novels,has stood on an iceberg, flown a kite in a hurricane, ridden an elephant and dodged hungry lions all while on the job as a writer!  Her fast-paced novels have topics that range from deadly video games to comic book superheroes and mysterious meteorites!  She has over twenty years of experience working with students of all ages and has taught reading and writing workshops across Canada, the US and as far off as Africa. In 2017, Jacqueline was awarded the Order of Canada.

Building Your Story from the Bones Out

When it comes to great stories, there is a system that ensures success with teachers, editors and publishers.  Join Jacqueline to discover how this mysterious system works.  This is the juice – it’s the same system Jacqueline uses to create her novels.  Every writer needs to keep their early works for posterity, which means, yes! We will be building TIME CAPSULES and stuffing them full of your excellent essays, perfect poems and adorable doodads!


Darrin Hagen is an award-winning playwright, writer, composer, performer, director and Drag Artiste. He is artistic director of Guys In Disguise and has spent decades researching the LGBTQ history of Edmonton and transforming it into theatrical productions, bus tours, and photo exhibits. Darrin is the author of The Edmonton Queen: The Final Voyage, and Tornado Magnet: A Salute to Trailer Court Women, as well as the editor of Queering the Way: The Loud & Queer Anthology, all published by Brindle & Glass Publishing. As playwright, Darrin has received seven Sterling Awards for his work in Edmonton Theatre. The Alberta Foundation for the Arts named him one of the 25 most influential artists in Alberta in the last 25 years, and he was inducted into the Q Hall of Fame Canada for his contribution to Queer culture. In 2005, Darrin was named as one of 100 Edmontonians of the Century to mark the city's centennial, and he was last year's Writer in Residence at the Edmonton Public Library.

Play for Life - “Every life is a work of art. Every piece of art changes the world." Explore the process of creating memorable characters and dialogue that jump off the page, by reaching into your own life experiences for inspiration.  The things you experience now are the raw materials for the stories you will someday imagine. Learn to see your life through an artist’s eyes, and turn everything in your life into Art.


Rachel Ann is a fun-loving, full-time yoga teacher in Calgary. She is recognized with Yoga Alliance as an ERYT-500 and has traveled far and wide to deepen her understanding of yoga. She has done over 800 hours of training and continues to explore the bio-mechanics of yoga and functional movement. Rachel loves to laugh until it hurts and lets loose on the dance floor. She dances like no one is watching and some of the best advice she ever got was to just 'be herself.' She's silly, outgoing and free in all aspects of her life.
Yog-A-Venture Within - Come fly high on your mat and explore your inner world as we embark on a journey. A journey to the most amazing place you will ever visit. A journey to your inner most being! Move, dance, yell, laugh, write, meditate and travel into the unknown to unveil the majestic and unlimited YOU!! Feel inspired to bring a blanket, pillow, eye mask if you have one and of course your willingness to dive in head first.


 Pam Rocker is an atypical activist, award-winning writer, musician and speaker. She has worked with many organizations to create websites, social media strategies, and communications plans. Pam co-founded a queer feminist ukulele comedy band that performed for many years, including opening for Margaret Cho, and now writes and performs solo, broaching important topics such as lesbian stereotypes, menstruation, and queer anthems. Her play, heterophobia, was recently made into a music video to the song “Don’t Ever Look Back” by Canadian band Shred Kelly. Pam is one of the Top 40 Under 40 in Avenue Magazine, a committee member of PechaKucha Calgary, and Chair of Broadview Magazine. She is currently the Director of Affirming Connections, an organization that fosters values of advocacy, affirmation and activism within faith communities in Calgary and beyond. She also loves nachos, watching Nailed It on Netflix, and smashing the patriarchy. 

What Do You Meme?! – Finding and Using Your Voice in Social Media - Social media has evolved and devolved, bloomed and combusted, birthed memes, dreams, and is ready for your schemes! So, what do you want to do and say online – really? How can we confidently navigate the social media landscape while being constantly bombarded by the ways we can act, interact, and react? We have immense freedom, can write our own rules, and find our own voice. But! Knowing how and when to respond, how to promote our work, advocate, take a break, and when to get our gifs on, is not for the faint of heart. In this fun and highly interactive class, learn about crafting your work for an online audience, social media theory, and how apps can be our pals and frenemies.


Carmen Rodríguez is an award-winning, bilingual writer, educator, journalist and activist who was born in Chile and came to Canada as a political exile following the military coup of 1973 in her native country. She has taught in First Nations’ communities, colleges, union halls, shanty towns, schools and universities and has served as correspondent for Radio Canada International. Carmen was a founding member and member of the editorial board of Aquelarre, a Latin American women’s bilingual magazine. Her books include Guerra Prolongada/Protracted War, and a body to remember with/De cuerpo entero, and Retribution/El desquite/Chiles Døtre. Currently, Carmen serves on the National Council of The Writers’ Union of Canada, and is a member of the Programming Committee and Advisory Board of the Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre, and the Advisory Board of Historic Joy Kogawa House, where she was Writer in Residence in 2017. Her second novel, Atacama, is forthcoming.

To Write is to Resist.To Write is to (Re)Create - Whose stories did you grow up listening to? Reading? Were you exposed to poetry, political commentary, theatrical dialogue? Did these pieces represent who you are and the world you live in? Did they make you feel as you “belong” or as an “outsider”? Words can give us power or make us disappear. They can be oppressive or liberating.  Through a series of hands-on, dynamic activities, explore the power of words and delve deep into ourselves, our histories and the world we live in. We will write stories and poems, personal vignettes and political statements. We will resist and trespass the status quo and (re)create our own take on the world and share our vision(s) for the future. We will have fun. And we will write, write, write. 


Loren Spector is a Calgary visual artist and printmaker, whose work has been exhibited both locally and internationally.   She is an art teacher, a reckless skier and freestyle golfer, and mom to two energetic children who keep her on her toes.  She looks forward to her time at YouthWrite as a highlight of the summer, because of the creative young people she gets to work with there.

Identity Express - Bring your favorite words, sayings, slogans and lyrics to this session, and we will bring them to life in a visual art context. In this studio class, participants will examine their own self-identity while creating small and beautiful paintings that illustrate and are illustrated by text. This is where visual art meets writing, as your words inspire mixed-media images. Bring painting clothes, a head full of ideas, and a photo or two of yourself. Oh ya, and bring that fearless imagination, too!



Thomas Trofimuk is an Edmonton writer who does not come lightly to the blank page. He has four novels out in the world (The 52nd Poem, Doubting Yourself to the Bone, Waiting for Columbus, and This is All a Lie) and has just completed a fifth. He’s a long-time teacher atYouthWrite who is obsessed with fonts, who knows exactly what he’s feeling at all times and wants you know it, and is a world-famous-spasmodic-dancer who without a doubt trained with the Bolshoi Ballet Company.

Imagine this… or What to do if you wake up at 3 a.m. and there’s a five-ton elephant standing in your bedroom.  Take a guided exploration of the exotic world of “Anything Can Happen,” where a fool is King, his advisors are all chimpanzees that read only Dostoevsky, the sky is green every second Wednesday, and everything is a lie. Produce a small collection of imagined stories by week’s end. 



Joshua Whitehead is a Two-Spirit, Ojibwe-Cree member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is the author of full-metal indigiqueer and Jonny Appleseed which was nominated for the 2018 Giller Award. Currently, he studies Indigenous Literatures and Cultures and creative writing at the University of Calgary (Treaty 7).

Writing with the Body - Survey your body in hopes of finding stories that may be written on the skin or in the blood. The best stories are written sensually with all of our senses intact. Think about the ways our bodies have been disowned, disempowered, or dislocated in all of the ways the world asks us to disregard our bodies (i.e. through race, queerness, disability, trauma, gender, sex, sexuality, age, etc.). Instead, you'll celebrate the body as kin, perhaps a writing partner, in thinking about the kinds of narratives singing from within the folds, scars, bends, sagging of our bodies. Take your scenes and expand them in ways that are more language based through a game I like to call "language diving."


Spyder Yardley-Jones is a quiet guy who keeps to himself.  He's a visual artist who paints, cartoons, sculpts and does all kinds of art stuff.  He's been teaching at YouthWrite forever, and get this: the big lug works at the Art Gallery of Alberta as an art handler.  Spyder illustrated an award-winning graphic novel and causes trouble with his art shows. He's ok in my books, that bald, bearded, tattooed so 'n so.
Legends of the Mask - Mask making is back! Create and write your own legend. Then using supplied recycled materials, make a wearable or wall-mount mask of your legend. Feel free to bring specific material you feel will enhance your mask.


Our Special Guest...


Brandon Wong is a Wattpad Star writer who resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His works, which include several teen fiction novels, have been read over nine million times in over one hundred countries around the world. Brandon's debut novel, Playing By The Rules, took home an award in 2016 for being one of the most added stories on the online platform. In addition to his own works, Brandon has also written for leading brands such as Warner Brothers Studios, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and National Geographic.


Publishing in the 21st Century - With the increasing use of technology, stories no longer have to follow the linear path of traditional publishing. Using examples from leading story sharing platform Wattpad, Brandon will share the different avenues that their work can take to become books, video games, and even movies!


And of course...

The Amazing Peak II Supers:


Elena Belyea is thrilled to be returning for her sixth summer at YouthWrite! Elena is a queer playwright, performer, producer, arts educator and Artistic Director of Tiny Bear Jaws, a little theatre company with teeth. Her plays have been produced across Canada and received numerous awards, including first place in the 2015 Wildside National Playwriting Competition with Cleave (also included as part of the Playwrights Guild of Canada's Surefire List). Elena was also the recipient of the Tarragon Theatre's 2018-2019 Emerging Playwright AWard and is a graduate of the University of Alberta as well as the National Theatre School of Canada. She's gaga for Gail!


Headshot credit: Laurence Philomene






Nick Carter (Lead Super) is a filmmaker and writer based in Toronto and Edmonton who’s returning to YouthWrite for a sixth glorious summer. Most recently, Nick has finished production on a bird-calling and slug wriggling short film entitled A Present For Your Presence and is currently developing a number of original shorts and features. Gail is someone he likes and admires very much. 


Anna Cooley (Lead Super) first came to YouthWrite as a camper in 2000, started as a Super in 2009 and is thrilled Gail has invited her back once again! Anna is a filmmaker who writes, directs, designs and shoots. Her love of collaboration has taken her around the world this year, shooting documentaries about Whisky in Scotland, Dogs in Morocco and Goats in Italy. Anna co-founded Erratic Pictures, a production company that makes films and explores the potential for storytelling using virtual reality. She is on the board of the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers where she also runs the Summer Media Arts Camp. She has a dog named Lola who is the best.







Jenny Hill just graduated from U of A with an elementary education degree. In addition to her time at YouthWrite last summer, she worked as a travel guide leading trips throughout the Canadian Rockies. Her Education practicum took her to Jasper, Alberta and she absolutely loved being in the mountains. Jenny also worked in a French immersion school as an EA and took a reading assessment and diagnosis class at university and spent 6 weeks in a grade one class helping students who struggle with reading. It was so rewarding and beautiful to see students starting to read and write their own wonderful stories. She just spent a blissful time in Honduras but is excited to rejoin the YouthWrite team where she hopes to be Gail's favourite.
Joey Lucius is a writer and performer from Edmonton. He is a Canadian Comedy Award Winner and Canadian Screen Award nominee for his work on YTV’s That’s So Weird. Joey also performed 11 seasons with the award-winning Rapid Fire Theatre. Currently, Joey is wrapping up a Bachelor of Education at the University of Alberta. He is so excited to be spending his summer with some amazing YouthWriters! Yeet! ...Did I use that right? Oh, yes, and Gail - did I mention how delighted I am to be working with Gail?


Miranda Martini is a musician and writer based in Calgary. She performed in and co-wrote music for the play John Ware Reimagined, which had its second run at Edmonton's Workshop West Theatre in 2017. When she's not busy working as part of the communications team for the Students' Association of Mount Royal University, she acts as Music Lead for Calgary Queer Church and sings in and sits on the board for Blend Vocal, a women's singing ensemble. As always, she’s excited to be back at YouthWrite which she attended as a camper from 2001 to 2005, so she loves Gail the most!






Morgan Moffatt is over the moon about returning for her sixth year at YouthWrite!  Having discovered the joy of the fine arts while attending high school, Morgan pursued a Bachelor of Education degree, minoring in fine arts, from the University of Alberta. After graduation, Morgan began her teaching career at the same school where Gail worked! She therefore loves Gail the most out of any other super. With 6 years of teaching under her belt, Morgan is enjoying life as a grade1 and 2 teacher in Vancouver. When she isn’t molding the minds of tomorrow, she enjoys reading, bird watching and long walks on the beach.







Keltie Squires is so excited to be making her Super debut this year at YouthWrite. She is thrilled that Gail, whom she adores, has pulled her out of the YouthWrite office and into the fun. She is a recent graduate of MacEwan’s Bachelor of Communications program and works in Edmonton as a communicator, writer, and social media manager. She loves reading, photography, travelling, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. If need be, she can be bribed with good food.










YouthWrite Coordinator:

Gail Sidonie Sobat  is a multi-award-winning teacher and author, with eleven books for children, teens and adults, and a number of educational and academic articles. She is the YouthWrite creator/ coordinator, an international presenter, an instructor in the professional writing program at MacEwan University and in the Faculty of Education at U of A, is The Writers' Union of Canada Regional Representative for Alberta, NWT and Nunavut, and was writer in residence with the Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries (2015). Gail is a 2016-2017 Global News Woman of Vision and a 2017 Arts and Culture Citation Award recipient. She has moved thirty-two times in her life from Badlands to Siksika Nation Reserve to hideous suburbs to Istanbul to the Sunshine Coast to her writer’s garret in a century-old temperamental house. She adores all of her Supers equally, and loves YouthWrite madly!