Creative Writing Camp: the Prequel to My Teaching

My career as a teacher didn’t start in a classroom. It started in the woods.

I didn’t really plan to be a teacher. I did like to write though, and I liked being a summer camp counselor, which was my summer job throughout college when I worked at Skye Farm Camps in Warrensburg, New York. During one week of the year for a few summers, I was the counselor for a Creative Writing Camp directed by Steve Burt. Steve is now best known as a horror and YA writer – his latest book is The Bookseller’s Daughter. I cannot overstate the influence that working with Steve at this camp had on me. It made me want to teach. And when I became a teacher , every time I taught writing I was trying to recreate that same spirit of fun and meaning and sharing our writing – creating a community of writers who wrote for fun, wrote to express themselves, and wrote for each other. Twenty-seven years in, that’s what I still do, despite the way the system seems to want to undermine and sabotage the joy of teaching and learning at every turn.

I drew this series in 2013 after getting back in touch with Steve after being out of touch for a long time. It is my Valentine to creative writing camp, and a reflection on what made me want to be a teacher. It also has some of my favorite drawings I’ve ever created for the strip.

Enjoy. And if you are a teacher, think back to what made you want to teach. Find your inner young teacher again. Take that teacher with you into the new school year.