Open up to ideas

Students from the Circular Head Cluster of Schools took part in a writing experience at Camp Banksia in Port Sorell last month. Photo courtesy of Cody Hursey.

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Experience. A retreat for budding writers has unlocked ideas in local students.

As part of the Middle Years Project students in the Circular Head Cluster of Schools were invited to apply for a week-long camp at Camp Banksia in Port Sorell.

The cluster encompasses Smithton, Stanley, Forest, Edith Creek, and Redpa primary schools as well as Smithton High School.

Upon receiving applications, organisers whittled it down to 40 students.

Smithton High School students Emily Coates, Raygan Emerson, Georgia Brown, Adelaide McIntosh, Jaimee Fisher, Kelsey Williams, Poppy Charles, Sophie Buckby, Iris Cartwright, Cody Hursey and Tyler Jackson met with the Chronicle to chat about the experience.

For four days and three nights, students immersed themselves in writing, reading and creating.

Each student documented experiences in a ‘seed’ journal throughout the week to use as inspiration in their writing.

“Having a seed book with me at camp inspired me not to look at just the big things,” says Iris.

“It made me think about how I can turn anything into a story, like a pot plant could become something incredible. You can take that away for a story and use it as inspiration.”

Encouraged to document thoughts, feelings and senses, students were asked to find inspiration in the little things.

“It became a natural instinct for us to write in our seed books,” says Adelaide, of the activity that many students will continue to carry on, “whenever a thought came to mind, we’d write it down.”

Throughout the week, students met with the editor of The Advocate Luke Sayer who started his career at the Chronicle and Launceston based author-illustrator Christina Booth. The students researched World of Wanderlust travel blogger Brooke Saward and shared a phone call with Australian author Jackie French.

Tasmanian musician Claire Ann Taylor and local artist Dudley Billing also joined the group to compose an original song from lyrics students contributed.

“We all wrote down a memory,” says Kelsey, a powerful memory adds Jaimee: “It had to be something that brought good or bad, strong emotions back to you.”

From there, Claire picked out a line from each student’s writing to compile and create ‘Opening That Book Once Again’.

Chatting to Jackie French on the phone, students brainstormed questions ahead of the call.

Sharing her experience with dyslexia, French inspired students to push past hurdles.

“That showed me that there are lots of speed bumps in your journey to whatever you want to do,” says Adelaide, “but she showed me that anything is possible if you’re willing to try.”

A resounding takeaway from the camp was that writing is a journey.

“A story needs hundreds of ideas, if not thousands or tens of thousands,” says Cody.

“I think that most people try to plan a whole story based on one idea, then they get stuck and don’t realise why it ended. But if you plan more than one idea, it keeps it invigorating and interesting.”

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