Highlights Foundation Summer Camp

I really don’t know where to begin with this, so I’ll start with this sentence telling you I don’t know where to start.

Summer Camp at the Highlights Foundation is a week long mentorship at, well, Highlights Foundation in the Poconos, PA.  You get matched up with a mentor, to whom you mail your chosen manuscript to work on, and, during your time there, they rip it apart and and make you do it over, again, and again.  By the end, you love them, like some evil older brother or sister.  By the end, you see progress, maybe even a finished manuscript, a gem pulled from the rock pile you sent in. You do get to meet with your mentor one on one four times, for about a half hour each time.

There’s also a speaker or two each day for the whole group, and a couple breakout sessions a day, for each of the days there, every single one of which was FABULOUS!

Then, there’s the people.

Other authors, and future authors, like you, who have a piece they love, love so much they want it ripped apart, and gently molded back together. I think I ended up with 574 different versions of the same story.

They’re your people.

The relationships made will hopefully last a long time.  Maybe we’ll even catch up at another Highlights event.

For me, it was about a three hour drive, so getting there wasn’t that bad at all.  Others came from all over the country, as well as New Zealand and Australia.  So, that three hour drive really was a luxury. It sounded like some airport waits were that long...

I’d been to Highlights before.  Three times for the EPA SCBWI yearly gathering, and once for an Unworkshop.

As with those events, there’s food, food, and more food.  Everything is fresh made, sourced locally.  Three meals a day, and unlimited snacks and drinks.  Those snacks and drinks are out 24/7, too.  You got a cabin, or room all to yourself.  This way you can cry over your manuscript, and contemplate never writing again (But most of us still do).

But the people are the best part of it.  From George, the executive director, to Amanda, who, along with her amazing staff, cooked meals for us. Alison, who kept us all in line and going to do the things at the right times, and checked up on us to see how we were doing, to Shadra Strickland, my amazing mentor, and all the authors who mentored and presented (Shadra, Linda Sue Park, Mitali Perkins, Lamar Giles, Peter Jacoby, Anna-Marie McLemore, Jillian Sullivan, Lyndsay Barrett George- I hope I named them all!!).

Then there’s the other Mentees.  They were an incredible, dedicated, fun loving bunch!  There were definitely tears shed together, gallons of wine and been downed, tons of food and coffee eaten and drank together.  We edited together, commiserated together, and even read a story in front of everyone ‘together’.  I hope they had as much as a fabulous time as I did.

The Summer Camp was such an amazing experience,and I came away with so much, including finding my voice, that I will be going back next summer.

Here’s the amazing Summer Camp crew!

Here’s the amazing Summer Camp crew!