Time to Write

Where do stories come from?

What shape can a story take?

Does your little one love to create? Summer camp is coming soon, so with the help of Word Wrestlers, a creative writing camp at UBC, kids explore the questions above through excursions and experiments. Writing with play in mind – using rhyme, repetition, metaphor, story-telling and the expression of sensory experiences – actively connects kids with language in fresh and unexpected ways.

Five writing experiments to get your brain moving:

  1. Anagram: An anagram is a word or phrase that uses all the letters of another word or phrase in a different order. is an anagram of Word Wrestlers. Use your full name as a way to generate phrases or words. Use these words, and only these words, to make a poem. Add a drawing, if you like, to make it a poem comic!
  1. On Complaining: Set a timer for 2 minutes. Start the timer, and make a list of things you love to complain about. Try for at least 20 things. Green beans. Socks. Bullies. Bed time. Then, re-set your timer for 5 minutes. Choose one subject and write a list of everything you know about that subject. Congratulations! You have made a list poem. (Remember: complaints are even better shared.)
  1. Object. Find a funny or strange object, small enough to fit in a pocket: a felted bunny, a star stamp, a roll of washi tape. Imagine the person who would carry this object around, and write about this character in a notebook: What do they look like? Where do they live? What do they wear, eat, dream? Why do they carry this object with them? Once your character has taken shape, write a 500-word story from their point of view.
  1. Time Machine: Choose a day in the future (20 years, or 40 or maybe only 13). Make a list of 20 detailed events that occur on this very special day. Let your imagination run wild.
  1. Neighborhood Poem: Walk your neighborhood with a notebook in hand. For every block, write a sentence. Each sentence must contain something you’ve noticed that maybe no-one else has, e.g. a neon green pylon, ruby-throated hummingbird, rain gutter full of soft pink petals, deer-hoof imprints in the sidewalk, soap suds from the daily fire-truck hose down. By the time you arrive home, you have made a bonafide poem!

Word Wrestlers is a creative writing summer camp for kids 8 – 12.


Share Your S’more Recipe to Win!

The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) is encouraging Canadians to commit to camp this summer with s’more great ideas for connecting to nature through the Great Canadian Campout initiative. CWF’s goal is to encourage Canadians across the country to appreciate nature first-hand by enjoying an “in tents” camping experience.”Whether you pitch a tent in your own backyard or spend a few days in a provincial or national park, don’t miss out on this opportunity to join the Great Canadian Campout. Sleeping under the stars is one of the ultimate Canadian experiences,” said Rick Bates, CEO of the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

As part of the Great Canadian Campout, CWF is challenging campers to share their “ultimate s’mores recipe” through the hashtag #GreatCanadianCampout. Whether you choose sweet or savory, healthy or decadent, s’mores can be prepared on campfires or cook stoves. Most amazing of all, CWF will publish the winning recipe in Canadian Wildlife magazine.

Visit GreatCanadianCampout.ca for more information on how you can register your commitment to camp and enter the s’mores contest as well as the ultimate Canadian camper contest. You can also receive a guide to Canada’s greatest hikes from Canadian Wildlife magazine, review environmental tips and download a multilingual learn to camp guide.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, carrying out research, developing and delivering education programs, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending changes to policy and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature.

Inspiring Writing Through Play

We turn to stories and poems to be delighted, challenged, understood, transformed. Writing is a place for silliness and sadness, dread and hope, invention and exploration.

“Experience-based learning,” one of today’s education catch-phrases, aims to foster intellectual development by encouraging kids to express themselves through all their natural “languages,” including words, drawing, collage, dramatic play, music and movement. Writing with play in mind by using rhyme, rhythm, repetition, metaphor, story-telling and the expression of sensory experience actively connects kids with language in a fresh and exciting ways.

Time to write! Here’s five fun Word Wrestler drills to get your imagination moving:

  1. Pick a number between one and ten, or roll two dice. Everyone goes away and writes as many words as they can imagine which have that number of letters. E.g. Roll a four: deer, dear, feet, fart, love, … Kids can create a poem or story from these words, or use as a dictionary.
  2. Write a list poem of weird facts. Like, did you know a group of jellyfish is called a bloom? Or if Jupiter was hollowed out, Earth could fit inside it 1321 times?
  3. Take three sentences from a book you love, and use the words in those sentences (and only those words) to make your own ten sentences, repeating the words as often as you like and of course jumbling the order. Nonsense lines are okay!
  4. Write a sentence that includes a fact, and then follow this sentence with a personal statement. Alternate between fact and feeling, trying to build connections between the two, until you have a poem. Give it a title, read it to your friends! e.g. The world’s deepest postbox is 10 meters underwater. I am afraid of the ocean.
  5. Choose a colour. Make ten metaphors that blend the senses: Orange is the sound of my cat mewing in the morning. Orange is a burnt toast smell. Orange is how I feel when I get to stay up late and watch a movie. Draw on all your senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) to bring your colour to life.

Word Wrestlers is UBC Creative Writing’s new summer camp for kids ages 8-12. The camp will take place on UBC Vancouver’s stunning campus from July 25th-29th and August 8th-12th. Learn more at www.wordwrestlers.com or send an email at wordwrestlers@gmail.com.

Choosing Summer Camp!

Sending your kids to camp, whether it’s the first time or the fourth time, is a big deal. Camp offers kids the chance to learn and grow, as they experience new challenges and meet new friends in a safe and controlled environment, but how do you find the right camp for your family amidst all the options out there?

Adim Hébert, Supervisor of Outdoor Education & Summer Programs at YMCA Camp Elphinstone, an overnight camp on the Sunshine Coast, notes that the most important thing families can do is ask questions. Hébert suggests gathering a fair bit of information and breaks it down into three simple steps:

Do your homework.
Check if the camps are accredited with the Canadian Camping Association and/or the BC Camping Association, which ensure that camps comply with standards related to health, food, safety and much more. Ask about the camp’s history and how long it’s been around. Learn about what measures are in place to ensure children are well supervised, safe and what their emergency procedures are. Research counsellor to child ratios and the kind of training and qualifications camp staff have. “Don’t forget to source out parent or camper reviews too,” adds Hébert.

Determine what matters most.
Figuring out ahead of time what really matters to your child will help set you up for a positive experience. Learn about the specific types of activities your child will experience at a given camp, both land and water based. If you are looking for specialized programming, such as sailing or climbing, be sure to ask for these things specifically.

Manage your expectations.
You might think that intensive academic camp sounds brilliant for your budding scholar, but what if your child’s heart is set on that mountain bike camp that promises to teach some totally rad bunny hops? Reflecting on what you really want your child to get out of a camp experience is a great way to start the search process.

YMCA Camp Elphinstone is accredited with the Canadian and BC Camping Associations, and has been delivering quality camp experiences to kids for more than 100 years. For more information about YMCA Camp Elphinstone or day camps throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, visit gv.ymca.ca/camps or contact 604-939-9622.

Summer Camp for Children with Disabilities

Nirm Blatchford
Director of Development
BC Easter Seals

Camp Winfield

Camp Winfield

Each summer parents sit down with their children and look at all their options for summer camp – should they go to a sports camp, an arts camp, a science camp? – there are so many options.  But if you have a child with a physical or mental disability,  you quickly realize that your child won’t be able to attend these camps.  The camps aren’t accessible, they don’t have specialized medical care and the staff aren’t qualified to care for a child with special needs. That’s why so many families are grateful to hear about BC Easter Seals Camps, three camps in BC which are fully-accessible, have 24-hour medical care and each and every counsellor is trained to support children with special needs. Easter Seals Camps are located in Squamish, Shawnigan and Winfield and each year over 900 children attend one of these camps.

Easter Seals Camps are a place where kids with disabilities get the same opportunities that their able-bodied friends get. They learn to swim, play wheelchair sports, arts and crafts, have camp fires and sing and dance. The camps have specialized equipment and facilities such as climbing walls. They also take a child out of their wheelchair, hoist them up the wall with specialized harnesses, enabling them to “climb” the wall.  An amazing feat when you think that for the first time, a child who’s used to looking up at the world is able to look down at his or her friends.  Campers tell us that this is the one week a year where they feel they can be themselves because nobody is staring at them for being different. Last summer, the first thing one of our campers did upon her arrival was to remove all four of her artificial limbs as the artificial limbs aren’t comfortable. At Easter Seals Camps, she is comfortable being herself. Nobody looked twice at her for not having arms or legs; it just isn’t a THING at camp. Our camps empower the kids because we focus on their abilities, not their disabilities.

But the most important part of camp is the friendships. For kids who come from small communities, there aren’t a lot of kids back home who also have a disability so camp is a great way to create a network of peers who you can talk to all year long.  Someone whom when you’ve had a bad day, or are facing a medical challenge, you can reach out to and they know what you’re going through and provide you the support you’re looking for.  Camp becomes such a huge part of the children’s lives.

Easter Seals is a non-profit organization that relies on the generosity of donors to be able to provide these services to over 900 campers each summer.  Please support a child from your town by making a donation today at http://www.eastersealscamps.ca



Timberline Ranch Family Day

On Saturday, April 26th, Timberline Ranch in Maple Ridge will be hosting their second annual Family Festival! There’s lots to do, eat, and listen to at this awesome annual event.

The Timberline Family Festival will feature loads of events such as hourly western shows, pony rides, hay rides, a petting zoo full of snuggly animals, and a western photo booth where the whole family can dress up. You can also try your hand at archery, make your way up the climbing wall, have your face painted, and roast marshmallows!

There’s also door prizes, and a whole array of other exciting activities that are fun for families of all ages! And don’t forget to bring cash for souvenir purchases at the General store and to buy some tasty BBQ.

If you pay in advance online, it’s just $4 entry (and $5 at the door), with a $15 family maximum.

The first 200 people who visit will also get entered for the Early Bird draw.

For more information, check out the Timerberline Family Day website.