Susie Moloney's account of this year's camp:
Peak Experience and River Valley Experience, 2014
By Susie Moloney
For those of us over the age of 25 (however barely), the very word ‘camp’ invokes an instant nostalgia: Summer nights and campfires; hot and still afternoons; dewy mornings and the birds. Perhaps most of all, that evocation is of the people who spent those days at camp with us, lifelong friends however short or long the experience, camp friends are always remembered fondly. It’s the community of shared experience, and it means that everyone of us who have ever been to camp immediately gets the joke, this one time, at band camp … once you’ve been, you always get it.
For the kids of Peak Experience and River Valley Experience,
it will always be this one time, at YouthWrite that evokes the memories of summer and friends, and this one
time at YouthWrite when their work and occupation was taken seriously, read
with interest, and remarked upon by their more experienced counterparts.
As a first-time instructor I was most struck by the level of
talent and dedication the YouthWriters have. They’re so keen and excited to
share their work, to talk about ideas, to read what they’ve written to their
new and old friends, under almost any circumstances: around the fire as they
did at Inklings, in classes such as Thomas Trofimuk’s Happily NEVER After,
Timothy Anderson’s The Wild Side of Fiction, and Mary Pinkoski’s Writing
Yourself Out of the Box, or in Write to Sing where with Bob Jahrig, the
students wrote a most touching and lovely song, and not to mention in my own
class, To Zombie or Not to Zombie, where the incredible students shared some of
the most imaginative pieces I’ve heard in a long time.
It’s a varied experience, YouthWrite. For the two camps,
there are 26 classes, writing of all sorts, award-winning instructors from
every genre and media, music, improv, theatre, dance, fine arts, tech, and
yoga! The kids wrote video games, songs, poetry, spoken word, social media,
plays, comedy, sound stories, character studies, and even letters to their MPs.
During “sacred writing time,” they produced their own work, which I often had
the privilege of reading during Blue Pencil Café, a 15-minute dedicated
discussion of their personal work.
It wasn’t all class time! The folks who bring you YouthWrite, the near-heroic crew of “Gail and The Supers,” made sure that everyone
was entertained. There was the nightly BEEG Show, when the Supers and Gail
Sidonie Sobat put on a hilarious, silly, show based on themes such as Noir,
Clue, Things That Go Bump in the Night, and the hilarious Dead Beat Poets.
Every night there’s a bedtime story, read or told by one of the brave
Instructors, and most nights there’s a special guest from somewhere in the
There’s an incredible camaraderie that builds between the YouthWriters. The nervous, shy, kids who show up on Day 1 are quickly invited
into the fold by veteran two-and-three timers; by Day 2, everyone has
discovered the safety and warmth of YouthWrite. There are no outsiders at YouthWrite, only friends yet to be made.
All of this happens--shockingly, to this mother of a teenager—without
the benefit of video games, the Internet, or texting. In fact, to badly
paraphrase a writer of some note, it was just like this:
And the Instructor, with her Grinch feet so hot in the grass
Stood puzzling and
puzzling, “What the heck’s come to pass?”
It came without buttons! It came without screens!
It came without
controllers, computers or machines!
She puzzled and puzzled ‘til her puzzler was sore.
Then the Instructor
thought of something she hadn’t thought of before.
Maybe good camp doesn’t come from the game store.
Maybe good camp means
a little bit more.
Send your kids to YouthWrite as soon as you can. It’s an experience that will give them everything to build on, there will be lifelong friends at the end of it, and maybe most importantly, they’ll find their voice and make it heard.
Thanks for a fun-filled week! Read about our amazing instructors and their courses. Information for parents!
Our Fantastic Peak Instructors…
Timothy J. Anderson Timothy Anderson's work spans opera to science fiction to comedy to health care. With a fistful of university degrees and certificates (ask him!), Timothy sees story potential everywhere. In addition to a long list of publications, productions and prizes, he was writer-in-residence with the Canadian Opera Company, won the BookTelevision 3-Day Novel Contest, edited for The Books Collective, and had a stage/concert career. He teaches at Youthwrite! Grant MacEwan University and the University of Alberta.
The Wild Side of Fiction
Truth-telling means risk. But what is art, what is writing, without creative risk-taking? Join Timothy and plot your narratives, whether of revenge, fantasy, adventure or realism. Learn how to stretch your style without losing the ring of truth. Raise the stakes and raise the state of your prose. Perhaps try a Twitter story! Let your fictional hair down and take a walk on the wild side!
Jacob Banigan is a world-class improviser from Edmonton, currently living in Austria. He worked as Artistic Director of Edmonton’s Rapid Fire Theatre for ten years, curating Theatresports, The Nose Bowl, Improvaganza and Chimprov. He is also a lifelong member of Fringe Festival favourite Gordon’s Big Bald Head, occasional member of Die-Nasty, and sometime writer for CBC’s The Irrelevant Show. Jacob tours Europe and North America teaching and performing award-winning improvised theatre with Theater Im Bahnhof, English Lovers and Rocket Sugar Factory. Jacob is excited to be a part of YouthWrite again!
Spontaneous Combustion - Improv is the art of instant story creation. It is a direct path from inspiration to appreciation. Use time-honoured techniques and new experiments to unlock your natural storytelling skills. Improv deals with setting, epoch, characters, forward momentum, scene building, story structure and a thousand other elements ... so that a great journey may be begun with a single step. Come and test your spontaneity combustibility!
Laura (Sunshine) Burki began her yoga practice in 2000 after a knee injury put an end to a strong and dedicated path in sports. After many years of practice, Laura found inspiration to create passionate, creative and unique yoga classes of her own. Because of her extensive background working with youth, her classes are regenerating, creative and a pure celebration of the practice. Drawing from her diverse background and personal journey, Laura delivers a fun and unique experience for everyone involved.
Yoga & Creative Writing - Through playful, breath-centered yoga practice and deep mediations, weave stories in your bones and begin to translate some of your own body language. Learn a variety of techniques to engage and deepen awareness of the most subtle sensations and movements of the mind & body. First in stillness, then through movement, finally in visualization: concentration becomes your gateway to creative transformation! 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!
Pam Rocker is an award-winning playwright, activist, and designer, who has worked in media and communications for over 8 years. From creating logos and websites to writing comedy sketches, she seeks authentic engagement inside of our ever-changing digital culture. She has always sought to communicate and entertain with a purpose, and is passionate about challenging prejudice in non-prescriptive ways. Pam has trained in writing in Canada and Los Angeles, is proudly American and Canadian, and most importantly, loves cheese popcorn and binge watching Netflix.
Get Social! Writing and Storytelling Online! - The Internet is full of infinite possibilities - no editors or publishers required! We can be our own bosses, write our own rules, and find our own voices. But what do you want to say - really? What stories - whether 140 characters or 140 pages, do you want to tell? Learn about crafting your own blog, being social media savvy, what makes a great website, and how to share your passion and voice with the world!
Jacqueline Guest is an international award-winning author of eighteen novels. She has stood on an iceberg, flown a kite in a hurricane and worn bedroom slippers in Parliament while on the job as a writer. Topics for her fast-paced books range from deadly video games to comic book superheroes and mysterious meteorites! She has toured across North America speaking on the importance of reading. In 2014, Jacqueline took this message all the way to Tanzania!
Past, Present and Future Writing - Ever wonder if time travel is really possible? Can you alter the past? Is the future a page waiting to be written? Make your stories warp to a higher dimension where being published is possible! All this, plus comic book superheroes and falling meteorites in a week-long workshop 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.
Francis Mayrand started his dance career at the age of fourteen in Montreal area where he was born and raised. He has been part of many groups, Les Pieds Légers de Laval, Reel et Macadam and Zéphyr . After many festivals and tours in Québec and Europe, he decided to pursue a full-time dance artist career. His love for traditional music, dance and choreography continue in Alberta, where he offers a residency artist program for schools, founded and directed the group Éfèmer. Francis is also currently dancing with the company Vinok Worlddance.
Body Beats - Throughout this workshop, explore different kinds of rythyms influenced by many cultures such as French Canadian, Hungarian, Romanian, Irish and South African (Gumboot). The goal is to provide an a cappella beat that will properly showcase the emotions derived from your writing. This course is back by popular demand!! Don't forget your rubber boots for gumboot fun!
Susie Moloney is an award winning writer of humour, horror fiction, a screenwriter, and columnist for Vitamin W. The author of four novels and a new collection of short fiction, Moloney has been compared to such writers as Jane Smiley, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King and Dave Barry. Her novels have been published all over the world, translated into multiple languages and optioned for film and television. She divides her time between Canada and New York City.
To Zombie, or not to Zombie-Your Version of the Apocalypse - Explore the various ways and means to tell your story of the end of the world. Zombies, killer viruses, military action, destruction of the rain forests—how are you going to end it all and find hope at the end? In this course, you will devise and outline an end of the world scenario. Thriller and horror writers welcome!!
Trevor Nugent-Smith has been playing hand percussion for over 14 years with 10 of those years working at One World Drum Co in Calgary, AB as manager, instructor, performer and artist in residence in schools. Engaging, fun and flexible to meet the needs of each diverse group, and with a specialty in improvised performance, Trevor can be found alongside DJs and musicians as well as playing for yoga and dance classes. Currently, Trevor and his fiancé Laura run their company Sacred Fusion, offering unique classes incorporating yoga, movement, music and rhythm.
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!
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 U of A's Augustana Faculty.
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!
Mary Pinkoski is an award-winning spoken word poet from Edmonton. She is currently Edmonton's Poet Laureate. In 2013 she placed third at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Championship. In 2011, she won the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word national slam championship as captain of the Edmonton slam team. She was also voted Most Valuable Poet of that festival. In 2008 Mary was the winner of the national CBC Poetry Face-off. When not performing across North America, Mary leads workshops for youth and adults. She is currently creating a full-length spoken word show called Land in the Veins.
Writing Yourself Out of the Box: A Workshop in Spoken Word Poetry; An Experiment in Creativity - You are in a box. Not a real box. But a box, nonetheless. The good news: you have the tools to write yourself out of that box into a new, unexplored borderland. No rules! Experiment and play with words. Take leaps in creativity and have fun writing outside the box, and then seeing what happens when you have broken free. Write each day and read some of that writing out loud. Interrogate your writing and unleash your creativity.
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 sixlanguages, 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 in 2014!
Daily Drama - Everyday, something extraordinary happens in your life. Everyday you read or see something that is unbelievable, exciting, terrifying or death-defying. Everyday you experience emotions: anger, jealousy, happiness, rage, love. Whether you're using your own personal stories, or ones you've seen on TV or read about online, Vern will help you adapt life's Daily Drama.
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.
Happily NEVER After - Do you have a favourite fairytale? Cinderella? Rumpelstiltskin? Sleeping Beauty? This small course will look at a few classic fairytales and it will encourage you to pick one and turn it “happily NEVER after.” We will mock the phrase “happily ever after” with a ruthless abandon (and why not?). We will dissect, mutilate and modernize your story. We will make bad things happen to decent people. Small rodents may die (in your stories). We will workshop your new fairytale over the course of the week.
Sheri-D Wilson is the Mama of Dada. She has 9 collections of poetry of which Re:Zoom won the 2006 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry and was shortlisted for the CanLit Award. Sheri-D has two CDs (arranged by Russell Broom) and four award-winning Video-Poems. CBC called her One of the Top 10 Poets in Canada and in *2006 she was the National Slam Poet of Honour. Sheri-D is the founder and artistic director of the Calgary Spoken Word Festival.
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 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 MacEwan University's Continuing Education program. Spyder illustrated the picture book, In the Graveyard and the graphic novel, Jamie's Got a Gun, and has been teaching at YouthWrite for seventeen years. In addition to all of this, Spyder works as a preparator, installing shows at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
A Mad Hatter's Inventions and Playful Little Abominations - Draw, paint, glue and build a whimsical little invention from found objects and parts. Bits and pieces o' this and that - put it all together, and you'll have the stuff of fantastical or steampunk worlds. Construct a steam-powered heart or three-dimensional ectoplasmic terminator worthy of any SF story. Create visual and literary delights that would dazzle any mad hatter or scientist!
With Our Very Special Evening Guest:
Sigmund Brouwer -
With four million books in print in seven languages, Sigmund Brouwer has written 27 novels and numerous series of children’s books, including 25 titles with Orca Book Publishers. Sigmund's complete list of books consists of more than 100 titles for children and adults.
And this summer's Super Supers:
Rebecca Collins joins YouthWrite in her inaugural year as super. She is overjoyed to be welcomed into such an amazing program! Rebecca recently graduated from the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Alberta with a Major in Drama and Minor in Social Studies. Last summer she worked with youth from across the globe during an International Congress held in Northern Ireland where the group focused on social justice through the performing arts. Rebecca loves to write, sing, act, watch Downton Abbey, and work with youth. Her interests include: historical media, performing, photography, nature and travelling. She is thrilled to join Gail and the YouthWrite team this summer and can’t wait for the shenanigans to begin.
Charlotte Cranston, a long-time Youthwriter-turned-super, is delighted to be returning to camp for her second summer as a super. By day she works as a lifeguard, first aid instructor, and library volunteer; by slightly later in the day she is a poet, an improvisor,and a swimmer. She is a member of the Spoken Word Youth Choir, a professional spoken word troupe founded at Youthwrite. Her studies at the University of Alberta have taken her as far as Italy, where she developed her love of lattes, museums, and travel writing, though her heart will always be with poetry. She is currently pursuing a degree in sociology and dreams of changing the world through writing, sweetness, and mental health advocacy. She loves cats, bunny rabbits, Earl Grey tea, princesses, Gail and YouthWrite.
Olivia Latta began writing in junior high, but found herself taking a break while she attended Victoria School of the Arts. After directing her first play in the school's PlayWorks festival, she volunteered for the CommonGround Arts Society and co-founded her first production company, Mischief Managed. Along with fellow co-founders, the company produced two five-star shows--Polite Boys, Feast--for the Edmonton Fringe Festival. She then became a technician at Rapid Fire Theatre and a resident hand at Avenue Theatre. But after returning from Montreal where she studied creative writing at Concordia University, Olivia wanted to involve herself in the writing scene. Intro: YouthWrite! She is beyond excited with how quickly she's been welcomed into the family and for the opportunity to be involved in this year's camps and to bask in the sunlight that is Gail.
Morgan Moffatt is extremely excited to be joining YouthWrite and is very grateful to Gail who invited her to be a part of such a fantastic camp. Having discovered the joy of fine arts as she attended Ross Sheppard High School, Morgan pursued a Bachelor of Elementary Education (minoring in Fine Arts) at the U of A. Being a recent graduate, Morgan was fortunate to work part time at the same elementary school as Gail! When she isn't working her butt off tutoring (and working multiple jobs) Morgan likes to spend her time hiking and being outdoors as much as possible, spending time with Gail.
Caleb Nelson was born in small-town Wetaskiwin and grew up on his parents' farm. Singing is a natural expression
for Caleb, as his family atmosphere has been described as a re-incarnation of the VonTrapps on more than one occasion. While attending the University of Alberta, Caleb joined the Madrigal Singers as a classical tenor while also playing trumpet in the U of A and MacEwan collaborative jazz bands. With his passion for voice and other instrumentation, Caleb co-founded the a cappella men's group, 6 Minute Warning. In addition to pop-vocals, he continues his classical career, singing in Pro Coro Canada. In 2010, Caleb began working as a recording engineer for Edmonton’s Wolf Willow Sound editing dialogue for TV shows and video games. He's established a home studio to perform on more instruments, write and record original songs, as well as encourage other artists. Caleb’s skill set extends from voice and trumpet to piano, guitar, bass, and will continue to grow as he dedicates more time to his craft. He is so excited to be returning once again to YouthWrite, and is looking forward to working with Gail, whom he loves!
Noel Taylor is a teacher, writer, performer and has been involved with YouthWrite for 7 years now! He counts down the days to YouthWrite every year using an array of horsehair-strung beads. Noel has the fabulous job of running the Theatre Department at W.P. Wagner High School in Edmonton! He performs with Hey Ladies at the Roxy Theatre Network every theatre season. As well as performing music in local rock and roll bands, he performs spoken word poetry with his best friend Nicholas! While doing all of these lovely things, Noel still finds the time to love Gail the most out of any other supervisor.
Lester Thomas is an aspiring dancer, actor, YouTuber & guitarist. His affection for the arts started in high school, where he discovered one of his deepest passions, dancing, and he was ironically taught by one of Gail's most respected past university students. He has performed in numerous dance showcases & In 2011, Lester performed at Gail's book launch for her book, Chance to Dance for You, which told the story of her book, through dance. He has also recently started working with Chan International, an acting & modelling agency. Lester enjoys working out, reading, playing guitar, hiking & making Instagram/ YouTube videos. Lester is very excited to be a part of the YouthWrite team & looks forward to building new relationships & creating memories with everyone, especially Gail whom he adores.
Joe Vanderhelm is a teacher of math, science and drama after having earned his BEd from the U of A, where he had Gailas a professor. Joe Vanderhelm is the associate artistic director of Rapid Fire Theatre. Joe Vanderhelm has improvised around the world including: Frankfurt, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Atlanta and Edmonton. Joe Vanderhelm is a lover of games both board and video. Joe Vanderhelm is proud to return in a supervisory role for his 9th summer of YouthWrite. But most importantly, Joe Vanderhelm loves and worships Gail Sidonie Sobat, probably the most.
Gail Sidonie Sobat is a multi-award-winning author for children, teens and young adults. She is the creator and coordinator of YouthWrite and the director of SWYC (Spoken Word Youth Choir), in addition to being an instructor of creative writing and communications at MacEwan University, a teacher and a singer. Jamie's Got a Gun (illustrated by Spyder Yardley-Jones) is her most recent YA graphic novel and her eleventh book. Gail adores the supers even more than they adore her. YouthWrite is one of her deepest passions.