This week-long sleepover is for kids who love words as much as they love the outdoors

WordsWorth summer camp aims to nurture nascent interest in the literary arts, and not just for writers, but for aspiring comedians, singers and dancers, too.

'Had I had this opportunity when I was a younger writer, my own craft would be leaps and bounds ahead'

WordsWorth summer camp runs workshops to help kids ages 11 to 14 explore how words inform the art of monologue, filmmaking, drama and even dance. (Kim Firmston/Writers' Guild of Alberta YouTube)

If you know someone between 11 and 14 who is as keen to bury their nose in a book as compete in a lively game of water polo, you'll want to tell them about WordsWorth. 

The summer camp caters to budding young wordsmiths from across southern Alberta, offering the opportunity to delve into the intricacies of Russian realism, science fiction, experimental poetry, standup comedy and even improv as they explore the great outdoors. 

"You name it, we've kind of done it here over the years," Colin Matty, Alberta poet and playwright, told the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday.

Matty serves as the director of WordsWorth, a week-long residency for youth run by the Writers' Guild of Alberta at Kamp Kiwanis, about 20 kilometres west of Calgary.

The program aims to nurture nascent interest in the literary arts, whether that be in aspiring authors or individuals who might use writing as a way to approach other crafts, such as singing, dancing or cartooning.

"I often think to myself that, had I had this opportunity when I was a younger writer, my own craft would be leaps and bounds ahead of what it is now," said Matty.

Most of the camp's instructors are working professionals. Think authors, poets, singer-songwriters, standup comedians, playwrights and directors.

"They're out there practising their craft, and it's that sort of experience that they get to bring into the camp and into the classes with the kids," Matty explained.

Creative collaboration

While writing can often be thought of as a solitary act, Matty said there's great value in bringing writers together.

It fosters a supportive community for artists, and it also allows space for the interactions that often become the raw material of the creative process, he said.

"The fact remains that there's this sort of myth about the frazzled genius that locks himself in the attic for months at a time and then emerges with a complete manuscript apropos of nothing. And that's quite simply not the case," Matty said.

"Every work of art that comes into being has a sort of hidden background of people that support the artists — be they family and friends who cook them a hot meal or give them a break from the whole thing, to editors, and peers and people that helped fuel the creative fires."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.