Intensive creative writing workshops, and exposure to world-renowned authors, for teen writers finishing 10th, 11th, or 12th grade. Write new work, revise work-in-progress, and gain insight into the creative process in a supportive community of peers and mentors. Read More!
The Juniper Institute for Young Writers is an extraordinary nine-day creative writing program for students who are finishing their sophomore, junior, or senior years of high school. Hosted by the University of Massachusetts MFA Program for Poets and Writers, the Institute offers participants a unique opportunity to participate in intensive creative writing workshops, craft sessions, and studio courses designed especially for young writers. Participants also have unparalleled exposure to world-renowned authors through readings and Q&As with its companion program for adults.
Located in the beautiful Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, the Institute continues New England’s profound literary tradition. Amherst, famously the hometown of Emily Dickinson, is a quintessential college town, full of great restaurants, cafés, and bookstores. Nearby Hadley and Northampton offer additional cultural attractions and museums.
What makes your camp or program unique?
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 alongside 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 courses in bookmaking and performance. Each evening, participants experience the transformative power of literature read aloud by the acclaimed faculty and writers in residence of the concurrent adult Institute—including Joy Williams, Matthew Zapruder, Dara Wier, and Mitchell S. Jackson. Follow-up Q&A sessions allow participants to explore the creative process and writer's life with these world-renowned authors.
Describe a typical day in your camp or program.
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. In addition to these courses, young writers attend readings and Q&As by acclaimed faculty and writers in residence from the Juniper Institute for adults. For more information about each of these, 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 bookmaking, 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?
Most students choose to stay with their peers in a University Residence Hall. While it is possible for participants to stay with local friends or family, we encourage participants to stay on campus, as residential life is an integral part of the Juniper experience. Two Residence Hall Directors live in the residence hall and are on-call 24 hours a day. The Residence Hall Directors are trained members of the UMass Res-Life program and offer support, guidance, and supervision.
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, vegan, and gluten free 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.
Please describe what teens have to say about your program.
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.”Read More!