Twenty-one young writers gathered at the Rockland Lodge of Elks No. 1008 for a free Creative Writing Camp the last three days of July. Under the direction of Rockland Poet Laureate Carol Bachofner and with a generous Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation, students in fourth through sixth grades had the chance to work with professional writers in the areas of fiction, poetry, journaling and news writing. Elroy the Elk was there in person on the first day to greet each student writer and returned three days later for a group photo.

Writers Bob MacLaughlin, Paige Pendleton, Terri Monthony Mackenzie, Margery Kivel, George Chappell and Bachofner spent three mornings mentoring the young writers, assisted by Sarah Bernard, Kristin Gould and Karen Bode, teachers from RSU 13.

Also helping was teen Anna Walker, Gould’s daughter and a writer herself. Elks member Bill Benner took plenty of photos, and third grade teacher Kristin Gould took screen shots of the students’ writing for an iBook, which will be available the first or second week back to school.

Campers learned about structuring and sequencing poems; and researching facts and interviewing for news stories using the Five Ws + H (Who? What? Where,? When? Why? and How). They learned what goes into developing characters and creating setting for short stories, even trying a bit of flash fiction. Poems such as Instant Ice Cream Poems, Dirt Poems and Acrostic Poems were made featuring three important parts of speech, nouns, verbs and adjectives, with the final poems incorporating all three. T-shirts, supplies and lunches were provided thanks to the Beacon Grant and a generous donation by Maine Media Women.

“We are so grateful to the grant entities for making this available at no cost to our students and their families. We couldn’t have done it without the support of the Elks National Foundation, Rockland Lodge No. 1008, and Maine Media Women,” said Bachofner.

Parents were invited to come early for pick-up on the last day and have lunch with the campers. Elks Lodge No. 1008 member John Ludwig and Exalted Ruler Bill Bachofner manned the kitchen, putting out a different lunch each day and healthy snacks of fruit and carrots and Gatorade.

Camp Director Carol Bachofner said working hand-in-hand with professional writers is the best kind of mentoring there is for a beginning writer.

“We saw some amazing writing being done by the students, and want to make sure they have an opportunity to keep it going,” she said.

With that in mind, Bachofner already is planning for next July, hoping to enlarge to accommodate 40 student writers and a few more professionals.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com