I love writing — it’s my greatest passion and so much more. It’s my language, my communication, my therapy.
All my life, I haven’t been the best at conversations, stumbling over prepositional phrases every time I wanted to express myself. However, writing let me convey every single word floating in my head easily.
What I can’t manage to say in person is expressed perfectly in a poem.
As my life grew more emotionally exhausting, with the pressures of college and the end of a long-term relationship, writing became a source of comfort — an encyclopedia of all the emotions I felt but couldn’t convey in conversation.
I decided to major in education and English because of my love of writing, and when it came time to look for my first internship, no organization was better than a creative writing summer camp.
Spells Writing Lab is just that: a non-profit day camp for kids ages 7-12, with the fifth week being exclusively for ages 12-17. At camp, we taught the kids about writing, reading and editing their writing through a number of engaging activities based on five different themed weeks: pirates, food, supervillains, outer space and graphic novel memoirs.
One day we taught the plot pyramid by analyzing the movie “Avengers: Infinity War.” Another day we wrote debate speeches that defended waffles or pancakes in order to practice persuasive writing techniques.
Every day was fun, and every day I learned how to create unique lesson plans that would pique my students’ interests, keep them engaged and provide valuable information about writing effectively. Oddly enough, these skills weren’t what stuck with me after this experience.
The most impactful thing was seeing how it reinforces and strengthens their own love of writing.
That’s something I found nearly each day when coming across campers that were so proud of the story they’d written that they ran to me frantically from across the room, filled with glee and demanding I read it right away.
Campers brought in their writing from home, sprinting to show me pages upon pages of exciting ideas and creative stories.
After seeing such phenomenal writing from people half my age, I was inspired to write in the first free moments I could, often haphazardly typing poems in my cluttered phone notes as I walked to the train station.
I wouldn’t even go home after camp most days — I just couldn’t. At least twice a week, I took the train from Fishtown to Center City and wrote poetry wherever I could: inside of coffee shops, on park benches and once on the stairs of the Comcast Technology Center.
These kids pushed me to become a more productive writer because of their own ambition and dedication. There’s something amazing about seeing a love for writing in one of your students.
I not only learned how to be a better teacher, but also a more passionate writer.
All of those hours of lesson planning were worth it to see their exuberant joy the moment they knew how much they loved writing.
I look back at the scribbled poems I penned on rickety train rides home and think about how magical those five weeks of camp were, how they revived a love of writing in me and reminded me of the joy that writing first brought me. I signed up for this internship to teach these kids but it turned out they were the ones teaching me the whole time.
I was sad to leave Spells and to say goodbye to these kids, but I am grateful for all the writing I produced during that time and the inspiration they gave me.
And on the last day, as the campers prepared to leave for the last time, I told them something I’ll always live by: “don’t stop writing, never stop writing.”