Exploring Words Summer Camp 2014

For the past five weeks, our Writing Lab has been abuzz with scientific discovery, tales of the zaniest imaginary predicaments, boundless imagination, and copious use of metaphor and simile. The source of all this excitement, of course, was our annual Exploring Words Summer Camp. Now that our young explorers have completed their work with us, here’s a quick update on what they accomplished this summer at 826!



Every morning at Exploring Words, the campers began their day with a lesson from our hard-working team of Science interns. Covering diverse topics from outer space to electricity to earth systems, the students turned the Writing Lab into a science lab with hands-on experiments, keen observation, and written lab reflections. We were amazed every day by the kids’ ability to grasp complex scientific concepts.


Creative Writing

The explorers ventured onward each day with a lesson from the indefatigable Creative Writing interns. In Creative Writing, students progressed from learning about the basic building blocks of a story, such as characters, setting, and plot, to writing their own fictional stories, personal narratives, and even some poetry. By the end of camp, kids were generating mind-bogglingly original ideas and using figurative language left and right!



In the afternoons, another team of determined interns led the students in revising and editing their earlier work from Creative Writing. While reviewing grammar and spelling, the interns also gave students the freedom to develop and expand upon their previous ideas. The resulting work showed more fluidity and polish, as well as a new level of wacky imagination and endearing eccentricity.


Peer Teaching

The Peer Teaching intern team mixed it up in the afternoons by turning the students themselves into teachers! Elaborating on concepts from Science, groups of students investigated various topics and created presentations, ranging from informative to artful, to teach the rest of the class. Students honed their teamwork and presentation skills as they came up with original ways to explain complex ideas. One of our favorites was a dramatic interpretation of a volcano erupting.


Field Trips

When they weren’t making great strides in the Writing Lab, our campers were out exploring San Francisco to its fullest on fun Friday field trips, venturing to destinations such as the Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences. Planetarium shows and hands-on exhibits proved an educational and entertaining way for our hard-working students to end each week.


Though we wish we could have kept these impressive young people here all summer long, all good things must come to an end. In an exercise on metaphor and simile, one of our wonderful students Jason Casarez, age eight, wrote that an island was as “quiet as an empty classroom.” We feel this comparison now more than ever here at 826. However, though our classroom is no longer brimming with chattering children and their spectacular ideas, our adventure continues in the form of the Exploring Words 2014 chapbook, which will be out by the end of August, featuring illustrations by the amazing Cristina Spanó. This delightful compilation of work written and selected by the students will be an entertaining and heart-warming window into our time here at Exploring Words.

We want to extend our warmest thanks to all of our volunteer tutors as well as to the families who lent us their amazing children for the summer. It has been a privilege to work with such smart, imaginative kids and such a dedicated team of volunteers. Thanks to all for a wonderful summer here at Exploring Words! To quote a simile by explorer Diego Gambala, age eight, “It was as awesome as a red komodo dragon.”