Calling young writers: Find inspiration in the history, nature and art of the Hudson Valley this summer

Photo courtesy of Jason E. Miczek

The Hudson Valley Writing Project at SUNY New Paltz announces a new suite of Young Writers Programs for summer 2019, designed to help children and teens use writing as a tool for making new discoveries about the region and about themselves.

Registration is now open for Hudson Valley Writing Project (HVWP) summer programs at sites throughout the region, for developing writers from ages 7 through 17. A limited number of generous scholarships are available.

Offerings include sessions dedicated to playwriting and performance; creating comics and graphic novels; writing for political expression and advocacy; and the perennially popular crash course on writing the college essay.

The educators who lead HVWP Young Writers Programs are keenly aware that students traditionally write hunched over stiff desks or staring at computer screens.

This year’s programs invite young writers to break out of that paradigm, imagine a map of the Hudson Valley – the landmarks, the farmlands, the museum, the college campuses – and immerse themselves in all the history, natural beauty, and art that our region has to offer.

“Writing in place[s] allows young writers to ‘write themselves’ into the larger Hudson Valley cultural landscape,” said Tom Meyer, associate professor of adolescence education at SUNY New Paltz and one of HVWP’s founding directors. “In doing so, many begin to care about Hudson Valley history, as it becomes more real, less abstract.”

In the nearly 20 years since its creation, the Hudson Valley Writing Project has forged partnerships with a broad array of regional organizations, such as the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Vassar College, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historic Sites, Storm King Art Center, Historic Huguenot Street, the Wallkill Valley Land Trust and Museum Village.

Many of these venues now serve as host sites for Young Writers Summer Programs. HVWP students write under trees and towering sculptures; at picnic tables and gardens next to reservoirs and creeks. They discuss their writing in rooms without lockers or homework calendars; they draw inspiration from open-air art venues, historical sites and college campuses, and they share their work at Celebrations of Writing before audiences of friends, family and mentors.

“Place-based writing supports young writers’ fluency,” Meyer said. “So many writers of all ages experience writers’ block, but when writers sit beside a sculpture or a creek, or they walk the same dirt floor of the Huguenots, they are inspired and can generate writing with more ease and volume.”

Previous enrollees in HVWP summer camps have talked about the freedom they felt being outside, and how working in a natural environment inspired their learning and helped them feel more comfortable as writers.

“The thing that stood out for me this week was when we could explore by ourselves in the woods,” one 7th grader said. “I found a bright red newt with orange circles on its back. I also discovered a bunch of red mushrooms and a trail behind this huge rock. This is why I love this activity and why it stood out to me.”

To learn more about Hudson Valley Writing Project camps and to register, please follow this link.

About the Hudson Valley Writing Project
The Hudson Valley Writing Project at SUNY New Paltz, founded in 2001, is dedicated to promoting teacher leadership, the teaching of writing and literacy development in all disciplines and at all levels of education, preschool through college. HVWP teachers help students become successful writers, learners and participants in their communities. For more information, visit