Summer Camp at the Barn: A Week of Creative Mentorship 2019

About This Event


Keynotes, workshops and a creative mentor to provide one-on-one support.

We envision summer camp a bit differently than just s’mores by the campfire and hiking in the woods (although those adventures are always on our schedule, too). To us, summer camp is a time to find the kind of encouragement for your writing that only a generous mentor can provide. Our camp offers someone to guide you through the long process of publication and a place to work one-to-one with a published author on fine-tuning your words and mastering your pitches in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.

What You’ll Learn

Camp begins each morning with an inspiring keynote, followed by one-to-one mentorship. Your writing mentor for the week will offer broad critiques of your writing as well as immediate feedback on work produced at camp. Your mentor will support your goals for the week, whether you want to flush out one piece for submission or identify the strongest concept for your work-in-progress. Our goal is to meet your needs by providing one-to-one support each day of camp.

Conferees will also find time to meet with other members of our faculty for guidance in the submission process, including query-writing basics and overviews of the current children’s book market. We know, however, that the most important piece of the publication puzzle is developing your writing muscle. That’s why we’ve dedicated plenty of time for you to work on your craft in the comfort of your private accommodations.

There will be 10 breakout sessions throughout the week led by an editor, agent, author, or illustrator. Each breakout session is designed to help you grow as a writer through hands-on exercises. You pick the sessions that most appeal to you. Our faculty will cover topics such as:

Creating rich characters

Developing voice

Constructing believable settings

Word choice

Transforming stories from didactic to child-friendly

Structuring plot



And much more!

Who Should Attend

Anyone who is interested in writing or illustrating children’s books.

Any writer or illustrator who is looking to experience the generosity of creative mentorship that only the Highlights Foundation can give.


Waking the Inner Voice: It’s Time

Dream, Dare, Do—Writing Takes Vision, Courage, and Energy, Each to the Fullest

Creating Character

Picture Book as an Act of Mischief: Bringing the Right Voice & the Right Play to a Picture Book

Propulsive Language: Making Stories MOVE

Creating a Sense of Place

Picture Books

Minor Characters and Transitional Scenes

Writing is Re-writing: Maximizing Revision

Beginnings & Endings: Pathways to the Reader’s Mind & Heart, & Gaining Welcome Entrance

Writing from the Sense (with a sense walk)

Radial Plotting: Brawl with your plot from the inside out

Dialogue Busters: Crafting Conversation in Fiction

Literature, Lessons, and Life: How the Desire to Write One Good Sentence Pursued Me

JUST FICTION:Writing Race, Culture, and Power in Children’s Books

Have You Scene This: Scene Writing Exercises

The Power That Comes with Information, the More and the Richer

What Does Your Character Desire?

Submission Basics: How to Start and End Your Query Letter

The Importance of the Page Turn

What I Really Want to Write About: Finding Stories That Matter


Summer Camp Reflections

Carnival, Summer Camp, and Carolyn Yoder: Or why you need to find a creative mentor

Summer Camp Scenes

A Happy Camper


“I’ve never found a more supportive or knowledgeable faculty at any other workshop or conference.”

“The mentoring staff members were amazing. All were open, honest, and encouraging. They didn’t just tell us what we wanted to hear – they told us things to make our writing sizzle.”

“They were wonderful: available, friendly, encouraging, and FUN!”

“Just about every faculty member made sure to sit with us at each meal and get to know us. Anyone I asked to read made time for me. Everybody seemed knowledgeable and like they truly wanted me to succeed. Definitely feel that most of them went above and beyond.”

Cancellation Policy

100% deposit refund for cancellation 30+ days before event.
50% deposit refund for cancellation 15-29 days before event.
0% deposit refund for cancellation 0-14 days before event.
The remaining balance (total price minus deposit) is due upon arrival.
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