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Juniper Institute for Young Writers at UMass
A kind of magic happens when you bring together a group of people who love to write. A passion for writing tends to mean a passion for thinking, observing, and discovering—all ingredients for great conversations and great lives.
Over the course of eight days, young writers (ages 15-18) at Juniper find access to the writer’s life. Through a curriculum that facilitates wild invention, participants generate new writing, experiment with style and form, access tools for finding inspiration in their day-to-day lives, and learn how to connect with an audience. Living on the UMass Amherst campus in close-knit “pods,” Young Writers participate in workshops, studio sessions, readings, and field trips. Many also earn academic credit while they enjoy a pre-college residential experience on the UMass campus in Amherst, an area rich with literary history.
What makes Juniper extraordinary is the space it creates, a space of diverse community, where teenagers from all over the country, with vastly different life experiences, can meet and bond over a shared love for the art of words. At the heart of the Institute are daily multi-genre workshops. Working with faculty and a core group of peers, participants generate new work, revise work in progress, and form a supportive community of young writers who are committed to sharing and receiving feedback on their writing. Other activities include field trips to area museums and literary destinations, as well as hands-on studio sessions.
A limited number of scholarships are available; the scholarship and priority application deadline is March 1, 2018.
A typical day at Juniper is centered around activities related to “the writer’s life.” Young writers work on developing their own writing in workshop, craft, and studio sessions. For more information about each of these aspects, check out our Curriculum. Throughout the day, Young Writers will eat three meals at UMass’ award winning dining facilities.
In the evening, Program Assistants facilitate activities in the residence hall. Activities may include anything from “literary salon” discussions to open-mic readings. This is also an opportunity for participants to read and write, work on their studio projects, or develop their performance pieces. In the past, participants have also used their evening free time to share their writing informally with their peers and PAs. We enforce a mandatory curfew of 11:00 p.m.
What type of teenager participates in your camp or program?
We are looking for dedicated young writers interested in exploring and advancing their craft and participating enthusiastically in a community devoted to writing. We particularly seek those who would benefit most from the Institute setting: one of intense focus, creative curiosity, community-building, and exposure to many writing styles. Each participant is an essential part of the Institute experience and is relied upon to share his/her own unique perspective and voice as we create an environment that both supports and challenges its members to reach new artistic heights.
Where do your participants come from?
Our participants come from all over the country, from diverse backgrounds and experiences with writing.
What is the housing like and what can you tell us about the meals?
Residential life is an integral part of the Juniper experience, and a shared suite in the Commonwealth College Residential Community is included with tuition. Residence Directors live in the residence hall and are on call 24 hours a day. The Residence Directors are trained members of the UMass Res-Life program and offer support, guidance, and supervision. Activities outside the dorm end by 10PM, and lights out is 11PM.
Participants eat meals together in a designated dining commons on campus. The University’s award-winning food service provides a variety of choices (including vegetarian and vegan options) for each meal. It’s not unusual at one meal to have a choice between sushi, pho noodles, create-your own stir-fry, pizza, pasta bar, or deli station. Not to mention the soft-serve sundae bar. All meals are included in the cost of tuition.
Participants in the past have said:
“I have never met so many talented people and made such strong friendships. If I could live here, I would.”
“It is revolutionary to be able to talk to people who understand you and your passions.”
“Juniper gave me the tools to understand my world and a more complete understanding of craft. I now have many, many more ‘writer friends’ who I plan to stay in touch with in the context of writing.”
“Being part of such a diverse, talented community was wonderful. The other participants helped make it such a vibrant experience.”