Belding students focus on better writing skills at camp

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:04 am on Thursday, June 27, 2013

Students attending the Lakers Writers Camp at Belding Middle School Wednesday raise their hands with questions for guest author Tim Hargis of Kentwood. — Daily News/Cory Smith

BELDING — School may be out for the summer, but that isn’t stopping a group of students in Belding from sharpening their writing skills as they attempt to author a book of their very own.

The Lakers Writers Group, out of Grand Valley State University, has been hosting the annual Lakers Writers Camp at Belding Middle School again this year, where students in third through sixth grade have been working to write their own story by summer’s end.

Helping to run the program are Belding teachers Janice Lamborne and Leanne Feuerstein, along with author Tim Hargis of Kentwood.

“We want them to think about writing in a variety of different ways,” Lamborne said. “By the end of the summer, they’ll have one of their works published and celebrated during our publishing party at the Belrockton Museum on Aug. 1.”

Kayleigh Stricklan, 8, listens intently to author Tim Hargis. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Lamborne said the overall focus of the four-day camp, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., is for the students to improve in their overall writing skill set.

“We hope they become better writers,” she said. “We want them to be more enthusiastic and look at writing in a way other than in a school setting.”

According to Feuerstein, the publication party will be a big step in regard to the students being comfortable and confident with themselves as authors.

“They are very brave,” she said. “All the writers get back together and they read their stories in front of friends and family. It’s just awesome for our community to see these kids busy writing their own stories.”

Hargis said the writing program is more than 10 years old, and he has watched as it has expanded throughout the state.

“This idea to help kids write has just grown and grown, and now we have camps all over Michigan,” he said. “I love to write, so when I can interact with these kids who love to write as well, it’s really special.”

On Wednesday, Hargis said he wanted to focus on writing fiction, and delivered various tips and tricks of the trade to the students. He presented a portion of his book “Ol’ Man Caudill’s Hat” to the students to help in his efforts.

“Today, I just wanted them to figure out one way to start a piece of fiction,” he said. “Lots of times in schools we do too much surface thinking, resulting in shallow stories. A way around that is to really think deeply about a character, which we worked on today.”

Fourth-grader Kayleigh Stricklan, 8, said it was very important to start building around a central idea as she filled out a piece of paper, front and back, with notes.

“I learned that to be able to write a story, you have to have an idea,” she said. “If you just write without an idea, it’s not going to make any sense.”

Stricklan’s best friend, fellow fourth grader Angel Hyde, 9, said for her, the most important thing she learned was to reduce the amount of characters she had in her story.

“You can’t have too many characters or your story just wont turn out right,” she said.

Members of the community are invited to attend the publishing party Aug. 1 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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