First Few Days

It’s just after 8am and I can hear them in the hallway. I peek around the corner from my office and glimpse light blue socks. A few pairs of red ones. They’re reading poetry to each other from their laptops, nearly an hour before class begins.
By 9am class is rolling and it couldn’t be any better. It’s summer camp, so I don’t give homework and I don’t grade papers. These are the kinds of kids that don’t see a separation between learning and vacation. They are naturally curious. They want to be here. As one 7th grade boy put it yesterday, “I come to Interlochen because at my other school I’m not accepted for wanting to learn these things. I feel accepted here and I am happy.” Or as this eager, 8th grade girl put it: “There’s no such thing as ‘creative writing class’ at my school. But that’s the kind of writing I like the most. I come here so I can write the way I love.” Or my favorite: “I play the violin, too. But in violin you can play the wrong note. You can be out of tune. There’s always something to correct. With writing, there’s no bad way to do it. You can just write.”
This summer, I’ll teach 2 sections of Intermediate Majors. These are rising 7th through 9th graders who choose to focus on writing amidst their additional, more traditional camp activities (canoeing, hiking, socializing). They’re here for 3 weeks, then another batch arrives and we start all over again. Today, I begin with an intro to poetry. By the end of the 3-week session we will have covered fiction and nonfiction, as well as prepared a final portfolio piece and rehearsed for our evening reading. The trademark of those readings? Interlochen’s classic, navy blue, corduroy knickers.

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