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Bard College at Simon's Rock Young Writers Workshop

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Ages: 14-17

Gender: Co-Ed

Type: Overnight/Residential

Physical & Mailing Address:
Bard College at Simons Rock, 84 Alford Road
Great Barrington, MA USA 01230

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Since 1983 the Young Writers Workshop summer program has offered teens the opportunity to explore new directions in their writing in a supportive, collaborative summer camp environment. Read More!

About Bard College at Simon's Rock Young Writers Workshop

In the summer of 1983 Simon’s Rock began offering a three-week writing workshop for high school students modeled after the innovative three-week Workshop in Language and Thinking required of all entering students at Bard College. We are now part of the National Writing and Thinking Network, the largest consortium of summer writing programs and camps in the country. Each year 84 academically motivated students are chosen to participate in the Simon’s Rock summer program. Former participants have gone on to such colleges as Amherst, Bard, Harvard, Haverford, Kenyon, Princeton, Simon’s Rock, Smith, Williams, and Yale.

Unlike conventional workshops in expository and creative writing, Simon’s Rock’s camp focuses on using informal, playful, expressive writing as a way to strengthen skills of language and thinking. Out of these informal writing activities, using techniques of peer response, students develop more polished pieces, ranging from personal narratives to stories, poems, and exploratory essays.

The workshop sections are small (12 students). This allows for individual attention to each student and helps to foster the sense of belonging to a supportive learning community in which students can feel comfortable exploring new directions in their writing and thinking. Trusting one’s own language and voice, learning to think for oneself and in collaboration with others- these are the qualities and skills that the workshop strives to develop.

Each weekday consists of three ninety-minute sessions organized as writing and discussion seminars. Workshop leaders write with their students, and there is frequent sharing of this informal writing, both in small groups and in the class as a whole. Discussions of assigned readings - mostly contemporary poems, stories, and essays - is informal and speculative. The emphasis isn’t on arriving at a "correct answer" but on exploring various ideas about what a text is saying. The texts also frequently serve as starting points and models for students’ own creative writing exercises. These daily activities are complemented by evening assignments in reading, revising, and journal writing.

Each week students develop a portfolio of "works in progress" and then meet individually with their workshop leader to discuss what they have written. Rather than evaluation, these meetings focus on what the writer is trying to do in his or her writing and how best to accomplish these goals. By becoming more conscious of their choices and strategies, students develop the intellectual autonomy expected of them as they prepare for college.

Students live on campus in the college’s dormitories, along with adults who are members of the Simon’s Rock student life staff. Aside from quiet hours and a curfew, students are free to organize their time in ways that fit their particular needs, whether that means preparing for the next day’s class, socializing with friends, participating in a recreational activity, or attending an off-campus cultural event.

All faculty are experienced teachers and writers with a special interest in the theory and practice of the nationally recognized Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking. They are selected for the Simon’s Rock workshop camp because of their record of teaching excellence and their familiarity with the needs and abilities of younger writers.


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Comments about Bard College at Simon's Rock Young Writers Workshop

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cforeman said...
Apr. 10 at 8:04 pm
I often attribute my decision to pursue creative writing at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY to my experience at the Young Writers Workshop. At fifteen years old, never has I been surrounded by teenagers like myself who were so similarly obsessed with the opportunity for self-discovery and exploration of the world around them through writing. I cherish every moment of YWW, from waking up early to run around Simon's Rock's stunning, wooded campus before class, to our intimate workshops in ... (more »)
KD.Winter said...
Mar. 20 at 3:04 pm
Choosing to attend Bard YWW in 2014, the summer before my senior year of high school, meant choosing to take my passion for creative writing seriously, but it also ended up being one of the most exciting three weeks of self-discovery as a writer. The workshop settings were run in a format similar to the way I experience them now, as a college student. You're surrounded by people who truly want to engage, inside the classroom and out. When I wasn't in workshops, I was attending activities like fo... (more »)
sam24601 said...
Mar. 20 at 1:47 pm
This workshop helped me to produce some of my best work. I really enjoyed the write-and-share setup of the workshops, especially because of the frequent and detailed feedback we received. Additionally, I appreciated that the program was "hands off" besides scheduled workshop time/events, so my free time was mine to do what I wanted.
gpasley said...
Mar. 19 at 11:23 am
The Young Writers Workshop at Simon’s Rock is the perfect place for teenager writers to really grow into themselves. I attended the program in the summer of 2015, as a rising Senior in high school, and then worked as an RA during the summer of 2017. As a high schooler, I loved writing, but I had never really put the pedal to the metal– YWW changed all that. In three weeks, YWW made me a better writer simply by virtue of giving me so much time to write. Students are in workshop every weekday ... (more »)
Samosa said...
Feb. 2, 2014 at 8:50 pm
  I was rather nervous to go to Simon's Rock because I can be rather shy and reserved at times. Suffice to say, the day before the program I was freaking out but by the dinner of the first day/ sign in day I was actually feeling a lot better. Socially, it was a wonderful atmosphere. It's a small group of people so you end up knowing almost everyone, if only to say hello, and you definitely find people who you can click with. In the workshop and out there is a supportive, accepting... (more »)
cherries said...
Feb. 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm
To whomever this may concern: this program is so incredible that I am having a hard time putting my experiences into words. To start off, the people there are amazing. The staff and all of my fellow writers were honestly the kindest and most supportive group of people I have ever met. I got along with everyone I talked to, hands down. Even though we might not realize it, writing and a dedication to literature form incredibly strong bonds between people- regardless of whether or not we like the... (more »)
berkums333 said...
Jan. 15, 2014 at 11:19 pm
I attended the workshop this previous summer, and I absolutely loved it. There is not one thing I can think of that I disliked about it. While there, I felt safe which was important to me seeing as I came from the West Coast. I learned a ton about myself while there, and I wouldn't trade my experience at Simon's Rock for anything.    While there, I learned that there is no right way to write. I became more confident in my writing as well as in myself as a person. The intima... (more »)
Josh H. said...
Feb. 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm
When I first heard of the Young Writer’s Workshop, it sounded like  a program straight out of a dream – and to my surprise, it lived up to the hype. The campus itself is beautiful, and there are plenty of wonderful nooks and crannies spread all over it. A stone bench by the classrooms was my particular favorite spot. The workshop groups were small, and it led to me really bonding with all of the people in my group. I would definitely encourage anyone attending to really put them... (more »)
cantwont said...
Jan. 20, 2013 at 10:03 pm
I am so glad I participated in Simon's Rock. The people, the scenery, the teachers, everything was great. Well, except for the food. I lost about five pounds because it was so bad. Other than that though, I highly recommend this program. I learned an incredible amount about myself as a writer and a person. I was suprised at how much writing there was, and given that I am dyslexic it was a bit of a struggle, but it was all well worth it. I must say, however, that your experience can vary grea... (more »)
Carson said...
Jan. 4, 2013 at 10:52 am
My experience at Simon's Rock was something truly singular (in a good way!). Unlike other writing programs, the Simon's Rock program focuses not only on the organizational aspects of writing, but on the true meaning behind writing. I learned an incredible amount during my time at Simon's Rock and I made wonderful friends. I highly recommend this program. You won't find this individual program anywhere else.
brookemasonc said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 6:28 pm
I attended the writing workshop last summer with high expectations. Having attended a different writing program the previous summer, I had an idea of what to expect. Bard at Simon's Rock was hands down my favorite. Three weeks was just enough time to immerse myself in my writing, make great friends and get in touch with my voice. The creative atmosphere was stimulating and inspiring. The most beneficial part for me was the one on one meetings each week with my seminar leader. I left with a b... (more »)
Sasha W. said...
Jan. 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm
I would definitely recommend the Simon's Rock Young Writer's program--I enjoyed it very much. It is a rather intensive program, for I did not expect that we would be doing as much writing (in class, as well as outside of class for homework and for our weekly portfolios) as we did over the course of the three weeks. Simply the fact that I had so much practice--coupled with with valuable feedback from my fellow group members and from my group leader on our weekly one-on-one conferences--was what I... (more »)
Madison W. said...
Jan. 14, 2012 at 6:33 pm
My time at Simon's Rock was, without a doubt, my best and most memorable high school experience thus far. What I learned about myself as a writer, along the people that I met while there, truly made an impact on my life. I feel that I left Simon's Rock with a much broader understanding of what it means to be a writer than I had when I arrived. It's a wonderful feeling knowing that you're a part of such a special, talented, community of young writers who are just as passionate about language and ... (more »)
Claire,H said...
Jan. 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm
I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone interested in becoming a better writer. Coming from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, the Massachusetts heat/forests were far from my comfort zone. However, it didn't take long to get used to, and nothing helps writing more than being pushed outside your comfort zone. All of the workshop leaders were fantastic and well-prepared. The students that went were also phenomenal. It was amazing to be surrounded by people passionate about writing, readin... (more »)
Leslie,S said...
Jan. 14, 2012 at 10:53 am
This workshop was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was amazing to be surrounded with passionate, talented, and kind students from around the world who were just as excited about writing as I was. For three weeks I produced an unreal amount of writing, and I am so proud of the final pieces I crafted. There are no words that can fully describe how much I appreciated and enjoyed my time spent at Simon's Rock, but to suffice I highly encourage anyone serious about expanding thei... (more »)
tessarella said...
Oct. 9, 2011 at 8:43 pm
Best month of my life! All of the teachers and people were fabulous. I came out of the progam how with stronger writing skills, and I was proud of the work that I wrote there. Many of my peers there had been to serveral writing camps, and said that this was by far the best.

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