Writing For Kids: Camp NaNoWriMo YWP Offers A Summer Boot Camp For Budding Authors

Skinner Bachs - Author

Jun. 16 2016, Updated 5:33 a.m. ET

Writing for kids in the summer months used to mean one of two things: letters home from camp or homework assignments for summer school. Thanks to the people who brought you NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, their Young Writers Program includes the juvenile authors in the Summer program.

Do you have an aspiring novelist itching for something fun to do this summer? Read on.

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What Is This NaNoWriMo Thing?

NaNoWriMo started out as a participatory celebration of National Novel Writing Month, which is in November. Running from the first of the month through the thirtieth, the challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel. Those who reach that mark are identified as winners and can display a graphic declaring their status on the site and on social media.

This might seem like the work of hobbyists, and it is true that the majority of the novels produced are first drafts that never get much further. NaNoWriMo is not without its successes. Among the novels to see mainstream publication in the 16-year history of NaNoWriMo are Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants, Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough.

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The Kids Are All Write

In 2011, the organizers of NaNoWriMo launched a pilot program with the help of authors and educators. The Young Writers Project, or YWP, is a safe place for writers 17n years of age and under to create an account to share their writing and interact with other young people who are interested in writing for and by kids.

The way NaNo-YWP operates is similar to how the parent website works. There are writing prompts and pep talks geared toward writing for kids. There is a forum area, and each registered participant is given a home page dedicated to sharing information about themselves and the project they are working on. Like grown-up NaNoWriMo, YWP runs throughout the month of November.

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Dust Off Your Sleeping Bags! Camp NaNoWriMo Opens In April And July

Fans of the program couldn’t get enough of the community feel and the deadline rush of NaNoWrimo. 2013 saw the launch of Camp NaNoWriMo. Camp NaNo is like NaNoWriMo lite. Instead of a 50,000-word goal, participants are given the chance to set their own goals. The recommended goal for adult campers is 10,000 words, but any word count is acceptable. It is also okay to work on older projects, short pieces, or drafts in progress at camp.

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Another big difference between the camps in April and July and November’s NaNo event is the way communities are formed. During regular NaNo, members are encouraged to attend local write-ins held at coffee shops, restaurants, and libraries and register with other writers in their area. In the warmer months, campers have a choice between creating a their own online “cabin” with 12 people of their choice or being placed in a “cabin” with 11 other randomly selected writers. For adventurous campers, this is a good way to meet new writers from all over.

All The Fun Of Camp Without The Bug Bites Or Bad Food

Writing camp for kids without the long-distance travel, the homesickness, and the expense? This is one of the best deals going for little literary types. Registration is open to two areas available to participants in the YWP based on age. Kids under 13 years of age who wish to write as a part of NaNoWriMo YWP are welcome to participate in a dedicated forum area. Kids who are 13 to 17 can participate in a section similar to the main Camp NaNoWriMo, complete with cabins inhabited by friends of their choice or random placements, all within the same age group.


Think this might be fun for the young writer in your life? The next Camp NaNoWriMo is less than a month away. As of this writing, the countdown on the Camp NanoWrimo page indicates cabin assignments start in eight days and writing starts in 19 days. The time to pitch this site is now. Who knows? The start of a brilliant career (yours or your child’s) might start this summer. Writing for kids? It might feel like work to them now, but after some time at camp, it might be the thing they do for fun.

[Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images]


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