Juniper Institute for Young Writers at UMass | Summer Program Guide | Teen Ink

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 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 November 25, 2019.

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 within the context of writing.”

“Being part of such a diverse, talented community was wonderful. The other participants helped make it such a vibrant experience.”

Ages: 15-18

Gender: Co-Ed

Type: Overnight/Residential

Physical & Mailing Address:
University of Massachusetts, E354 South College, 150 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA USA 01003

More Information:
(413) 545-8988

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This summer program has 4 comments.

on Dec. 6 2019 at 9:31 pm
jenntucci BRONZE, Tewksbury, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I attended this institute this summer and it was amazing. I was able to challenge myself to write different genres and styles and talk with other writers just like me. It's a true community here. I was able to workshop my writing pieces and improve my overall writing process. I was hesitant about going to a writing camp, especially for the price, but I don't regret it at all. It's an amazing experience, and I highly recommend it!

on Apr. 26 2015 at 11:32 pm
RationalIdealist BRONZE, Orinda, California
3 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”
― Mark Twain

Thinking about going to Juniper this summer. Anyone besides @bryn23 been there?

bryn23 said...
on Feb. 6 2012 at 3:23 pm
I attended Juniper last summer and I can honestly say that it was one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life. It truly helped me to expand my thinking beyond what I would ordinarily write or read about and consider every imaginable angle. The readings every night were beyond fabulous and it was incredible to hear to works of such esteemed and talented writers. Of course, despite all of the amazing technical aspects of the program that helped me improve and expand upon my writing, nothing can compare to the incredible people that I met there. It was like the exhilarating feeling of realizing for the very first time that you are not alone in your eccentric pursuit of writing. In the months since it ended, I have found myself either daydreaming about the wonderful time I had there, or else ranting to whomever would listen about how fantastic it was. I can't even think of single bad thing to say about the fabulous folks at Juniper. In fact, I loved it so much that I'm going back this summer!

Tea33 said...
on Mar. 10 2011 at 9:00 am
I attended this program last year, and it was beyond what I could have hoped. I met kids from all over the country. Most of the kids were not from New England, in fact. The workshops we went to were professional and educational. You have the same workshop, I was in poetry, which meets twice a day. It was much beyond a "standard high school level" and we were often given homework assignments to complete that night, which dedicated students would stay up late to finish sometimes. The readings every night were amazing and inspiring. This program, which I shall be attending again this summer, is best for those who love writing and are willing to put time into it while meeting kids that do the same. 

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