When: Oct 16 – Nov 17, 2013
Where: Crested Butte, Colorado
Who: Approximately 26 writers (ages 14-19) plus trip leaders Dev, Cameron, Melissa, and Logan
How Much: $1700 plus travel
Arrival/Departure Airport: Denver
Application Status: Full with waitlist.
As of September 5th, we are accepting waitlist applications.
Please write firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your chances of enrollment.
We’re back again! The Writing Retreat is Unschool Adventures’ most popular program. This year we’re excited to write our hearts out in the iconic mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado.
New for this year: Four work-trade positions, an awesome charter bus (just for our group) from Denver airport, and a “night owl” staff member.
Same from last year: Daily small group feedback sessions, the group blog, chores with partners, and our earlier-than-NaNoWriMo dates (which means better weather and you’re home for Thanksgiving).
Welcome to the Writing Retreat
The mission of the Unschool Adventures Writing Retreat is to support young writers (and those with a budding interest in writing) in accomplishing an ambitious, self-paced writing challenge.
We started the Writing Retreat as a place to do National Novel-Writing Month (the challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November) with a community of like-minded young novelists. Since then we’ve branched out, making space for poets, bloggers, short story writers, graphic artists, and those who want to explore a combination of writing styles. Now we simply say: Choose your own ambitious writing challenge. Aim for a goal that’s bigger than anything you’ve written before, and plan to stick to it for the entire month.
A few example challenges include:
- Write a 50,000-word novel (traditional NaNoWriMo-style)
- Write a 80,000-word novel (for the highly ambitious)
- Write 100 single-page poems
- Write a 25,000-word memoir
- Write a 100-page play (Scriptfrenzy-style)
- Write and publish 20 blog posts of 1000 words each
- Write 5 short stories, 20 poems, and a 10,000-word memoir
- Write and illustrate one full-length graphic novel
The only writing challenge you aren’t allowed to give yourself is no writing challenge.
The variety of writing styles that we accommodate offers a chance to “cross-pollinate” and broaden your scope as a writer. More than a few students have walked away from the Writing Retreat with new-found passions for poetry, nonfiction, or blogging.
During the retreat, students write at their own time, place, and pace. Our talented staff lead workshops, check-in with students every day, run small group feedback sessions, and provide one-on-one writing mentorship when asked. The staff also undertake their own writing challenges, direct meal preparation, keep the place in reasonable order, and organize all-group activities. What our staff doesn’t do is police students’ writing. Our goal is to provide a supportive and free environment for passionate, self-directed writers to do their thing. We’re not here to shove word counts down your throat.
Living with 20+ Unschoolers for a Month in a Colorado Mountain Town
Perhaps just as significant as the actual writing, the Writing Retreat offers young adults a chance to live in community for a diverse group of peers and adult staff. Our group of ~30 writers will spend their month living in the Crested Butte International Lodge and Hostel in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado (view the location map), which we’ve rented in its entirety. Nestled within a small mountain town and within easy walking distance to the cafes, shops, a library, and hiking trails, this property offers an incredible place to live and grow with a group of fellow unschoolers.
What’s it like to live in a house with so many unschoolers for a month? A little crazy and a lot of fun. To keep the place in order, we organize students into small chore teams to assist with daily cleaning. We cook our own dinners (big, healthy, mostly vegetarian meals), and provide do-it-yourself breakfast, lunch, and snacks available 24/7. We enforce quiet hours but not a bedtime—so if you do your best writing at 3AM, feel free!
Workshops, Hikes, Field Trips, Evening Events, and Spontaneous Fun
To help inspire and improve your writing, our staff (and sometimes students) lead writing-oriented workshops—typically one workshop per day, five days a week. Previous workshop topics have included: Free Writing, Metaphors, Lessons from the Grammar Police, How to Lead a Life Worth Writing About, Dialogue, and Getting Published. We also organize “power hours”, intensive focus times during which we crank out a huge number of words. Attendance at all workshops and activities is optional.
It also helps to clear your head when doing intensive writing. That’s why a big focus of the Writing Retreat is non-writing community activities. We go hiking, watch movies, and journey into town. In the evenings we organize talent shows, readings, dance workshops, and story nights. This year, we have the free bus shuttle to Mount Crested Butte (a ski area on Forest Service land) available to us, which expands our hiking and outdoor adventures opportunities.
Finally, students on Unschool Adventures Writing Retreats tend to create all sorts of spontaneous fun for themselves. Whether it’s offering “free hugs” downtown, doing write-ins at a local hotel lobby, recording music, or making friends with weird restaurant owners, our students find innumerable ways to connect and have fun. The lightly structured nature of the retreat makes this possible.
Small Group Feedback and the Group Blog
Writing is a lonely affair, and it helps to share your words with others. That’s why we have the daily small group meeting and writing feedback session. Every evening you’ll have the chance to share some of your writing with a group of roughly six other students and one staff member. We encourage you to use this opportunity to ask for feedback on your content, story, style, technique, or overall feel. The important part is that you share and talk openly about how your writing challenge is going.
- October 16: Arrival, move-in, and orientation. Writing starts at midnight!
- October 16-November 15: Writing, of course!
- October 31: Unschooler Halloween! (Yes, there will be trick-or-treating. Evidence.)
- November 16: Cleaning party. Writing ends at midnight.
- November 17: Move-out and departure from Crested Butte.
A Day in the Life
What does a typical day at the Writing Retreat look like? Our days vary widely, but here’s a rough sketch:
- Wake up an create your own breakfast
- Write in your best atmosphere: the hostel, cafe, library, your bed, etc.
- Join a spontaneous mid-day adventure with other students
- Eat lunch (lunch spread provided at hostel from 1-2pm)
- Write more!
- Do a chore (average 30 minutes each day)
- Join the afternoon workshop or a power hour (optional)
- Eat dinner with the group and attend the nightly meetings (large-group + small-group — required)
- Enjoy evening writing, games, dancing, power hours, or special events
- Shhh! Quiet hours start at midnight
- Go to sleep at the hour of your choice
All work-trades for 2013 have been filled.
This year’s retreat offers four work-trade & leadership positions. These four students will rotate taking responsibility for traditional work trade roles (coordinating dinner dishes and lunch spreads) with taking some new leadership roles: leading a workshop, an activity and some small group check-ins. They will meet weekly with staff to receive the support and training necessary to succeed in those roles. The position will require 7-8 hours a week on average and receives a $200 reduction in program fee.
To apply for one of these positions, send an e-mail to explaining your motivations and qualifications to program director Dev Carey at email@example.com. Preference will be given to those applicants who have already attended a Writing Retreat and demonstrated leadership skills and a strong work ethic.
Photos of Our Lodge
Have More Questions?
Contact us via e-mail or phone and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.