Writers' Community and Mentorship Project

For those eager to develop their artistic and professional craft

“A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.”   — P. L. Travers


The late Jack Myers, former Director of Creative Writing at Southern Methodist University, designed CAMP while serving as President of the Board of Trustees of The Writer’s Garret. His concern centered on the number of talented poets and writers in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex unable to pursue formal training in creative writing because they lacked the necessary funds, had no access to opportunities, or were unduly constrained by other demands on their time.

Writers’ CAMP (Community and Mentorship Project) is an innovative continuing education program that provides both MFA-level study and service learning opportunities for adults interested in creative writing. Via classes, workshops, readings, informal programs, mentoring, and professional development activities, CAMP gives writers the resources they need to build their practice, hone their craft, and achieve their writerly goals. Simultaneously, CAMPers dedicate themselves to building a vital artistic community rooted in the principles of collaboration, interdisciiplinarity, and the mutual support that only writers and readers can lend to each other.

How does Writers’ CAMP work?

In lieu of formal enrollment in a creative writing program at a college or university, CAMP writers (called “CAMPers”) participate in a flexible, self-directed, self-paced program of study, creation, and service. Each “semester,” CAMPERs complete a set of curriculum requirements that are designed with the demands of daily existence (careers, family obligations, etc.) in mind.

How do I pay for Writers’ CAMP?

CAMP participants may either pay for their study in full by traditional means (cash tuition) or by supplementing tuition with participation in the program’s Work Exchange (WE) program. Need-based (yours or ours), Work Exchange positions are equivalent to staff or contract activities at The Writer’s Garret. Work Exchange duties, assistance, and responsibilities vary greatly, from helping administer an event to providing instruction to young people via our Writers in Neighborhoods & Schools (WINS) program.

The public service component afforded by CAMP’s Work Exchange initiative equally builds the next generation of readers and writers while cultivating a sense of community involvement, both central to any serious artistic practice. Meanwhile, you are building your resume and practicing skills relevant to making a living in the literary world.

How do you decide my placement?

Writers may be admitted to Writers’ CAMP at two possible levels: Artist Study or Professional Study. Both levels are non-credit, but the level of work intends to challenge the writer as would be expected at a for-credit creative writing institution.

Applicants are evaluated by an Application Review Committee to determine how and where each writer might fit within the program and the CAMP community at-large. Once in the program, CAMPers are expected to attend an orientation, meet with a CAMP Counselor, and keep current with their involvement.

Artist Level of Study

At the Artist Level, training begins with an orientation session, followed by BOOT CAMP and The Elements of Creative Writing. This class focuses on developing the writing practice and learning (or re-familiarizing oneself with) the essential qualities of all literary expression, regardless of genre, and the basics of participation in a literary community. Writers from diverse backgrounds and levels are all brought together to learn the common vocabulary and techniques for improving their craft and teaching it to others.

From The Elements of Creative Writing, writers then move on to study within the genre or genres in which they have chosen to concentrate. Each genre “track” follows its own course of study and progresses from beginner to intermediate and advanced studies. At the same time, writers work outside the classroom or workshop, fully rounding out their literary education by attending readings, informal literary programs, working with CAMP mentors, and reaching professional development milestones (e.g., submitting their work to literary periodicals).

Professional Level of Study

CAMPERS admitted at the Professional Level have typically completed formal studies in creative writing (e.g., a BFA), have a record of publication within their chosen genre or genres, and/or have completed the “Artist Level” of Writers’ CAMP.

Advanced students must also show a readiness and ability to serve as a mentor to other CAMP writers. CAMP writers studying at the Professional Level are therefore expected to serve as “student-teachers” and can receive up to three years worth of mentoring, in 1-6 month increments, with an established writer.

Past mentors have included Paul Christensen, Victoria Redel, Allison Hedge Coke, Cristina Henriquez, Joe Milazzo, Kristin van Namen, Ralph Angel, Tim Seibles, and many others.

Ready to Apply? Fall Early Bird registration ends at 11:59pm on July 31. Regular registration ends at 11:59pm on September 8.