The 3-day creative writing camp was held in Singapore from 25-29 November 2018 and organized by the Arts House. The building itself was a 200-year-old building that was once home to Singapore’s first parliament. Our camp leaders introduced themselves and broke the ice by playing the game “Hunter, Tornado, Earthquake” with us. Soon after, we broke into individual groups, and our first session began. “The Hero’s Journey”, conducted by Judith Huang, a local writer and poet, who had us exploring the journey a hero takes before he faces his victory, or in fact, his inevitable end. She assigned us the roles of “Royals”, “Islanders”, “Nomads” and “Warriors”. We then had to be these characters and create our own little fantasy world where anything could happen. Just as we were getting into the thick of things, each camp leader interrupted our session to give each group a list of activities we had to complete throughout the day. We couldn’t help but break into peals of laughter when we made our way through the list. Some activities needed us to tag colored stickers on students, camp leaders, or writers without them noticing, while others required us to take a picture of our group with the statue of the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles. One of them even required us to reenact the sorting hat scene from Harry Potter. It was a fun experience for all of us, and because of this experience, we got to bond with our new friends.
Our second session for the day was “Creating Complex Characters”. Taught by Dr.Yeo Wei Wei, author of the anthology “Foolish Things & Other Stories”, we learned that the ‘secret’ to creating a complex character is to give him a “secret”. We also learned to write stories quickly while still making sure that it is of good quality. As the day turned to dusk, and the sessions for the day drew to a close, Ms. Elizabeth and Ms. Jaclyn took us to Kinokuniya so that we could buy books to our heart’s content. We then took a slow walk back to the hotel, enjoying the delightful Christmas lights along Orchard Road.
The next day, we learned about poetry. The first session of the day was “Protest/Poetry” which was taught by Jennifer Anne Champion, a poet, writer, and educator. In this session, we learned how to express our negative emotions towards the world through poetry, instead of putting it out plain and straightforward for everyone to see. Personally, this session was my favorite! As a teenager, I have a lot of emotions I can’t control, and I end up getting angry at the people I love. But after this session, I learned - both as a student and a daughter - not just how to write beautiful poetry, but how to put my emotions on paper, instead of lashing out at others. The next session “Duality in Poetry” was taught by Mr. Darryl. Mr. Darryl was a very amusing teacher, and his session was equally interesting. In his session, we learned about the concept of dualism, a “ying and yang” topic, and learned how poetry can have more than just simplified words. It has meaning, meaning that comes with great emotion. Between the two sessions was a break, in which everyone was invited to play the game: “Would I lie to you?” It was a true bonding experience, and we all got to know more about our friends from Singapore. After the last session ended, we all went shopping and continued enjoying the beauty of Singapore.
Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the camp was the last day. On this day, we got to share our poems, short stories and more with new friends. As a 13-year old, this gave me a boost of confidence and motivated me to write more, and create a fantasy world everyone can enjoy. The camp ended with everyone gathering in a mini auditorium where we reviewed the fun and relationships we had created over the last three days through pictures and videos we had taken. At the end of the day, Ms. Elizabeth took some of us to see the Garden's by the Bay's Rhapsody.
I think I could say, on the behalf of all of us, that we were a little upset about leaving all our new friends, the beauty of Singapore, the wonderful joy of learning literature and the sense of pride, confidence, and creativity we experienced. I hope to be joining the “Camp Lit” again in the near future, and would like to thank our teachers, Ms. Elizabeth, Ms. Jaclyn and Ms. Annabelle for organizing this camp!
All pictures accompanying this article were taken by Jon Gresham. Copyright Jon Gresham. All rights reserved.