Our summer camps provide writers with a creative, enriching experience that allows them to explore their imaginations while also building confidence and developing literacy skills.
We spoke with Jim McConville, who is teaching Fantastic Voyage for rising 5th & 6th graders (Weeklong: August 8 – August 12, 1 to 4 p.m. ET, Red Bank Borough Schools) to find out more about him and what to expect in this camp.
PWN: What do you look for in a Fantastic Voyage story? To learn? To travel? To laugh? A combination?
JIM: In any story that involves a Fantastic Voyage, I look for the character who is going on a journey to experience some type of change—positive, negative, surprising, expected. To me, this shows that the character is open to the presumably fresh setting they are facing and willing to be influenced by it. The change can be minor, but I do expect it’s going to stick with them. Laughing and learning are great aspects of it, as well.
PWN: What can campers expect from the Fantastic Voyage camp?
JIM: Campers can expect to be challenged. Campers can expect to read and write and discuss and imagine, specifically traversing imaginative ground they have yet to venture. Campers can expect to receive individualized feedback and specific practices to help in developing their writing skills. Like any true fantastic journey, campers should expect the unexpected.
PWN: What type of reading do you do to escape the everyday world? (Or, your favorite made-up destination to read about?)
JIM: If I could live anywhere real or imagined, I would love to live in JRR Tolkien’s Shire. Simple, intentional living surrounded by green scenery as far as the eye can see. And being able to walk around barefoot sounds pretty great too. I love reading poetry collections to unwind. I find something so relaxing about diving into the verses and letting the mood and tone of the poems take me somewhere else. My first love of poetry was Walt Whitman, and after seeing The Belle of Amherst at the Two River Theater, I have been rediscovering my love for Emily Dickinson. I love the language of past writers—there is something so essential about it.
PWN: What moment in the classroom gets you excited as an instructor?
JIM: Anytime I see a student excited about life in general, but specifically learning and thinking, I can’t help becoming so full of excitement, too. I also love when students realize they are capable of more than they initially think. That is super rewarding, as well.
PWN: Why do you write?
JIM: I write because I love to breathe in the world around me, no matter how polluted it can seem at times.