Behind the Summer Camp Scenes


By Sophia W. G. & Lisa Hartsgrove

As the Project Write Now team came together to discuss our next blog post, we thought—what better way to showcase our summer camps than to hear from one of our students? So Lisa Hartsgrove, PWN Program Coordinator & Writing Instructor, sat down with Sophia W. G., 15, to find out why she took not one but THREE camps last year.

Lisa: How did you first hear about Project Write Now?

Sophia: I heard about PWN through an adult creative writing class that you (Lisa Hartsgrove) were running as part of your master’s program. I was instantly drawn to your contagious charisma and same shared passion of writing. One day, you mentioned PWN, and I enrolled immediately.

Lisa: Aww … what camps did you participate in last year?

Sophia: Last year I participated in The Interview Project, Ink It Up!, and Girls Write Now. In each camp, I discovered new things about myself. The Interview Project was a magnificent experience, especially since I have aspirations to become a journalist someday. I was taught valuable lessons on topics that are essential to know when interviewing people. Ink It Up! was also an enjoyable and unique camp. It was not entirely writing based—it was also artistic! I’ll be the first to admit I am no Van Gogh, but in this camp I discovered how my writing can be turned into a masterpiece just by using the right color gel pen. Girls Write Now was my personal favorite, though, because of the friendships ignited, the thought-provoking prompts we indulged in, and the deep conversations we had as a group. All in all, in every class or camp I register for at Project Write Now, I am always astounded at the blooming talent that comes out of teens my age. I am beyond grateful to take part in such an open, supportive, passionate, and educational environment.

Lisa: Wow, what a great answer! Thank you! Is there any one thing you remember the most from your camp experience?

Sophia: The beautiful diversity among people and their writing.

Lisa: What were your favorite prompts/activities/moments?

Sophia: My favorite prompts were Found Poetry and Dear PWN (the advice I received from the advice givers was truly life changing). I also enjoyed interviewing the Red Bank citizens.

Lisa: Yes, I love Dear PWN also! That was part of our Girls Write Now camp. I look forward to doing it again this year. Did you make any friends over the summer that you have remained in touch with?

Sophia: Yes! I made many lifelong friends over the summer. We actually went out for coffee together this week to discuss our writing. I consider them some of my best friends, and we look forward to sharing the most vulnerable parts of ourselves every week in our writing group.

Lisa: That’s so wonderful! Is there a project or a piece of writing that you began last summer that you have continued to work on since then? If so, what has that process been like?

Sophia: Last summer I was first introduced to poetry and started to write some of my own. To this day, I strive to write at least a poem a day to eventually/hopefully turn into a book. PWN introduced me to the wonderful world of poetry and for that I am grateful.

Lisa: And we are grateful for you! Have you noticed any other area of your life improve because of practicing creative writing?

Sophia: Absolutely! My life has improved immensely because of creative writing. I finally can escape my head for a little while and just focus on writing. Finding myself through the words on paper has improved my self confidence and overall mood. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without a notebook and a pen.

Lisa: Would you recommend a PWN camp to a friend?

Sophia: I would definitely recommend a PWN camp to a friend because the experience is life changing. Being in a safe environment surrounded by many equally talented and passionate writers is so inspiring. Any teenager, whether they have a zeal for writing or not, must sign up!

Lisa: I’m glad you think so! You’ve participated in other programs through the year as well, right?

Sophia: Yes, another program I am participating in is the Teen Writing Group. In this program I have met some of the most down-to-earth, spirited, and personable people I have ever met. We not only write and share our stories, but we also bond over all of our ardor of literature.

Lisa: We know you are a fan of 80s music—has that passion ever come into your work?

Sophia: Anyone who knows me knows besides writing, music is what I am passionate about. Music inspires my writing and vice versa. The last song I listened to while writing was “Changes,” by David Bowie. In general, I usually base my writing off of the tone of a song. Whether it be “Here Comes the Sun” or “Sound of Silence,” I constantly keep an ear open for poetic verses and catchy writing material tempo. All in all, writing and music go hand-in-hand in my life.

Lisa: What advice would you give to other young writers like yourself?

Sophia: WRITE FOR YOU! I have struggled and continue to struggle with comparing my writing to others’. One thing I’ve learned is to make your writing YOUR writing. Everyone’s writing is beautiful and unique in their own aesthetic way. Just follow your heart—it always knows the right words to scribble down on paper. Do not change your writing for anyone but yourself. Whatever way you write, it will always be right.

Lisa: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you so much, Sophia!
To register for a summer camp, visit
Sophia W. G. is a Project Write Now student and teen intern. Lisa Hartsgrove is the Program Coordinator & Writing Instructor for Project Write Now.