2020 News Stories

Tampa Bay Area Writing Project launches ‘Dear Writer’ Summer Program to help students explore creative writing from home

Tampa Bay Area Writing Project logo

TAMPA, Fla. (May 29, 2020) — The Tampa Bay Area Writing Project is launching a new online summer program for students who want to explore their creative writing skills while social distancing at home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Tampa Bay Area Writing Project hosts a series of professional development workshops and summer camps each year to inspire both teachers and students to extend and enrich their writing practices. To follow social distancing guidelines, the project’s 2020 Summer Programs have moved fully online in the form of “Dear Writer,” an 8-week long experience that creative writing enthusiasts can participate in completely from home.

Each week, student participants will receive a kit in the mail that centers around a different theme they will explore during the program. The kit will include materials and exercises that lead the student through various creative writing activities, and that they will share with fellow participants virtually through collaboration boards and online workshops.
“As we began working on a summer experience for young writers that wasn't our traditional camp model, I immediately thought of old-fashioned correspondence courses and the wonder I had as a kid of sending and receiving mail," said Eric Vona, director of Tampa Bay Area Writing Project’s Youth Programs. "Even in these strange times, we want to continue to provide opportunities for young people to express themselves and explore their world through writing.”

The Dear Writer program is designed for students in grades 3-12. Workshop groups will be created by placing students in similar grade-level groups along with teacher mentors who have completed the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project’s professional development trainings. The cost to participate is $75 per week and includes access to all online activities, printed program materials and shipping. 

Camp dates and weekly themes are listed below:

  • Week 1 (June 15-19): Writing Your World
  • Week 2 (June 22-26): Great Explorations
  • Week 3 (June 29 – July 3): Art Alive
  • Week 4 (July 6-10): Future Influencer
  • Week 5 (July 13-17): Player 1
  • Week 6 (July 20-24): Gimme A Clue
  • Week 7 (July 27-31): Note to Self
  • Week 8 (August 3-7): Letters from Tomorrow

"Creating opportunities for young writers during the summer is an important part of the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project's mission to nurture writers of all ages and to inspire a life-long love of writing,” said Michael B. Sherry, PhD, co-director of the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project and an assistant professor of English Education at USF. “Young writers who participate in our summer programs can expect to discover new possibilities for what writing can be and do: it's about exploring their own ideas with support from trained professionals and a community of peers."

For more information about the program, please contact the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project at icewriters@gmail.com.

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About the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project:
The Tampa Bay Area Writing Project is a nonprofit professional development organization that works to create lifelong writers. Founded in 1998, the project is modeled after the National Writing Project, an organization comprised of nearly 200 local sites that utilize a professional development model of teachers teaching other teachers how to improve their writing instruction. The program is housed in the David C. Anchin Center for the Advancement of Teaching at the University of South Florida’s College of Education.