11 year old son has a strong interest in writing

For the past several years, my now 11 year old, has really enjoyed all his writing assignments at school and usually goes above and beyond the requirements of the assignemnt.  He sometimes wakes up at 5:30 am to write.  He has recently expressed an interest to be a writer as a profession (what type TBD).  Are there any camps, groups, seminars, or activities in the East Bay to encourage and hone his writing skills?

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That's great! One option is to check in with their English teacher for ideas. Otherwise I'd encourage you to subscribe to Cricket or Muse magazine (same publisher) and/or Week Jr. Both have lots of opportunities for young readers to submit their writing in various formats. Another option to look at for summer is ATDP through Berkeley. We've had mixed experiences with their classes for our now 12 & 14 yos., but no harm in checking out the catalog and seeing if something appeals to your child and if the logistics work for your family. Finally, when my now 14 yo was in 4th grade, he had a pretty good experience with an online Greek Myths class through CTY; it involved a lot of advanced reading and writing, with opportunities to read and comment on other students' work. [Note that CTY had a very bumpy summer in 2022 with their in person courses, but I think online is probably still running very smoothly, and it's easy to fit in during the school year.]

I don’t know of any local creative writing programs, but Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan has a great creative writing program… far afield obviously, and expensive, BUT they have a generous scholarship program, and in addition to the general growth benefits of sleep away camp, there’s not the worry of fires and smoke we now have on the west coast. Interlochen is amazing place, even if it seems a reach, if you have a young writer, it’s definitely worth looking into. 

So exciting!

He could consider writing for The Teen Magazine: https://www.theteenmagazine.com/apply

Also, The Writing Salon used to have a Berkeley location. Now they are just in SF. But they also have online classes. He could check them out.  https://www.writingsalons.com/ - It's mainly for adults, but very welcoming and supportive. 

Albany middle school teacher Abby Skrivan runs amazing afterschool and summer camps -- check them out here: http://www.writeonyouth.com/.

Sometimes ATDP has good summer writing classes. We had good luck with 826 Valencia, in San Francisco. In high school, there is the State Summer School for the Arts, which is at Cal Arts. That was a wonderful program, where the teachers really understood how to create a space for young people to write. They are starting a writing workshop at the San Pablo Branch of the Contra Costa County library. There is also a student writing workshop at the Mill Valley Library. Ideally, you will find workshop/class led by a writer, rather than someone who wants to "teach" and focuses on the kind of goals that are necessary in school, but aren't helpful in creative writing.

Please look into the Bay Area Writing Project Young Writers Camps!  The Young Writers camps are designed and taught by Writing Project Teaching Fellows, all of whom have been selected for their expertise in teaching and motivating young writers.  THese camps are hugely popular and fill up fast; the kids have a great time and their development in a few weeks is nothing short of amazing.  The emphasis is on creating a fun, nurturing environment that young writers can grow in.    There are a number of sites around the Bay Area.   Here's a link: https://bawp.berkeley.edu/youth-programs

Check out the programs at Chapter 510 (https://www.chapter510.org/workshops/). He may also be interested in doing National Novel Writing Month, which just started and has a Youth program (https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/) - it's self-paced/virtual, but they offer some guidance/structure and free writers' workbooks (https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/pages/writer-resources), and sometimes local libraries offer writing workshops in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. If his school has a school paper, encourage him to join - even if he doesn't want to be a journalist, planning, interviewing, meeting deadlines and being meticulous about grammar are valuable experience for any kind of writing. The great thing about writing is that just writing and reading, with or without an instructor, will make you a better writer, so he's on the right track already!

Came here to second ATDP!


My daughter had similar interests and push to writing. When she attended her first after school program with BAWP, it was like she found her people! She has taken summer camps with them too. Highly recommend. 

What a wonderful post to read!

Professional writer here, who started at age 11.

While others will have more current info on camps and classes, I will just note that there are many opportunities now that did not exist when I was that age:  blogging, online publishing, National Novel Writing Month.  The latter is probably an inappropriate amount of work for an eleven-year-old:  those who sign up write 1700 words per day in a thirty-day period, typically in the month of November. This results in a 50,000 word novel.  It's great for high school age and up, and for writers who are more productive when facing deadlines.

One of my first projects, in fifth grade, was to "publish" a weekly comic book for my friend-group.  Perhaps your son could parlay his talent and enthusiasm into writing about a topic that his friends would enjoy.  That takes his writing from the realm of solitary pleasure into a social activity.  If he has buddies who are so inclined, they might turn into a writers' group.

One word of caution:  love for writing may diminish if it ceases to be fun and starts to become work. As a parent, you would be wise to ensure  he can maintain his sense of agency.  He has to feel that his writing is HIS idea, not something that adults are pressuring him to do.

Congratulations on having a kid who loves to write.

Some of my friends' kids have enjoyed the Written Out Loud storytelling program. The program includes weekly small group Zoom brainstorming meetings and individual writing "missions," and the kids end up with a published book! The next cohort starts the week of November 14.

Hooray for young writers! One thing that is happening now, is National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). They have a young writers program. Here is the link. It can connect them with many other writers. https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/ Good luck!

I’m following this! My son is the same. 
I saw last year that Bay Area Writing project had writing camps. One was sci fi which my son was into but they were all virtual. I’m hopeful they will have in person this summer. 

I also agree that the CTY courses can be great. My kids had wonderful experiences at CTY, the Center for Talented Youth sponsored by Johns Hopkins at various sites around the country. Maybe this course in San Mateo would work? https://cty.jhu.edu/programs/summer/courses/being-a-reader--becoming-a-…