Power Your Story: A camp that couldn’t be stopped

By: Hallie Adams, Sophie Imler, Jasmine Jackson, Audrianna Taber and Faith Wallace

Ever since COVID-19 disrupted education and life across the United States and many other countries, students’ life and learning has been radically transformed. However, for seven teen writers located in Kentucky and Ohio participation in a two-week online summer journalism camp was a confidence booster as well as a life-learning experience offering friendships as well journalism experience. Audrianna Taber, a junior from West Liberty, explains, “My favorite thing about Power Your Story was getting advice from my peers. Having people encourage and help made the whole experience very positive.” 

Audrianna Taber wrote about unemployment in Eastern Kentucky.

After a rough start to 2020, Deanna Mascle, Sarah Webster, and many others worked together to make the journalism camp, Power Your Story, still possible from June 1-12. The camp was originally offered as part of Morehead State University’s Summer Arts Academy. Although Morehead State’s summer programs were canceled due to the virus, students from Bowling Green to Cincinnati to West Liberty still got the opportunity to work on a subject that they were passionate about and have been offered many publication opportunities for their work. 

Jasmine Jackson wrote about the harmful effects of gender role stereotypes.

Power Your Story, funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Journalism and Media Program, is offered through the National Writing Project (NWP) and the Morehead Writing Project (MWP). Students were given the chance to enhance their writing skills by telling long-form news stories. Long-form stories offer an in-depth study of an issue. This focus offered student writers the opportunity to explore a topic they were passionate about. The skills the camp taught are useful for college and professional success. 

Highlights of the camp included a visit by Morehead Public Radio News Director Leeann Akers to talk with the teen writers about their projects and conduct a virtual tour around the radio station. As a second year in the camp, Hallie Adams, a senior at Fleming County, was happy to see, “Leann and talk with us about a story that she needed help with.” Also, the teens also enjoyed getting to meet writers from all over Kentucky and nearby areas. By working together and giving each other feedback, our passion projects were made possible. This opportunity also gave students the ability to be published while showing the new generation of writers solution journalism and directs them along their way with long-form stories. Jasmine Jackson, a junior from Bowling Green, states, “This allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, made me more confident in my writing, and helped me get pointers on how to better my writing for the future.”

Students also participated in learning to better their writing, and push themselves out of their comfort zone. For example, Sophie Imler, a sophomore from Oldham County, “I never thought I would be able to do that many interviews and have 152 people complete a survey I made.” In 90-minute morning calls students received direction and guidance on how to move on with their story. 

Using the solutions-journalism model for their long-form stories, Power Your Story inspires you to look beyond the surface of a topic and to go in-depth. Faith Wallace, a freshman from Cincinnati, exclaims,” It made me look deeper into finding solutions and not just asking questions.” 

Faith Wallace wrote about the right to protest.

Two weeks of hard work, dedication, and precision paid off on June 12th 2020, when the students finally finished up their work for publication. And now students anxiously await news on the publication of their work in national, regional, and local publications.

Morehead Writing Project Site Director Deanna Mascle and Camp Director Sarah Webster hope that next year the camp will meld the benefits of both camps including an online week to help writers prepare their individual stories and an on-campus week to experience hands-on journalism through work with Morehead State’s Convergent Media program. Those interested in the 2021 camp should follow the Summer Arts Academy and Morehead Writing Project web sites.

Featured image: Hallie Adams created a broadcast about the impact of COVID-19 on Fleming County.