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by Gabrielle James

In the summer of 2014, approximately 40 youth converged at the Whidbey Institue for the inaugural Y-We Write summer camp, a partnership with Young Women Empowered. Since then, over 200 young people have participated in the program. Writing workshops are led by Hegdebrook alumnae in fiction, spoken word, songwriting, and more.

Two of Hedgebrook’s teaching artists look back on this past summer’s Y-We Write summer camp and the transformative impact it has for all who participated.

Shannon Humphrey

Y-WE was an amazing experience, and I get as much experience as the students. They are invigorating with their curiosity, vulnerability, and passion. It is inspiring for me to watch them channel all of that into purposeful creatively. Their questions, suggestions, and support of one another do not cease to amaze me. I’m thrilled to have done it for two years in a row. Before I arrive, it feels challenging to set aside the business of life and put everything on hold, but once I get to Y-WE and the students’ hugs and anticipation, I’m so grateful. You know, it’s that part about needing a break from life but not knowing it until it happens. Their energy and love feed me too, and I come home rejuvenated. Thank you, Hedgebrook family, for helping make that a reality for them and us, the writers!

Amber Flame

Y-WE is a magical experience. It makes sense that the land holding the camp gains magical properties as well. There is such serenity among the trees, such peace in the hearts of those who service Whidbey Institute, that a sense of true safety descends and every individual has the opportunity to explore their creativity to the fullest. Songwriting workshops led to a chorus of voices for collaborative pieces, the energy of the other workshops mingled over lunch discussions and fed our inspiration. The youth experimented above and beyond any expectations. My time with the other Hedgebrook teaching artists was soul-filling and deeply connective; we gazed at stars and bonded in that short week with the same intensity a residency at Hedgebrook fosters! And I filled my little cabin with joyful noise, recommitted to my own creative drive to practice what I preach.

GabrielleJ
About GabrielleJ
I have worked for nonprofits the majority of my career, managing youth development programs, where kids felt empowered, honored and creativity was encouraged. Hedgebrook does all of that for women writers and I am excited to be a part of the development team, helping to amplify women’s voices for years to come.

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Reflections From Summer Camp