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Frederick Douglass Youth Camps at Writers & Books

SummerWrite Youth Camps Focus on Douglass’s Legacy and Values


Rochester NY: Writers & Books invites local youth, ages 5-18, to participate in a number of week-long Frederick Douglass-inspired camps during summer break in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Douglass’ birth. Writers & Books will offer eight, age-appropriate SummerWrite camps that will focus on Douglass’ life and times as well as social justice issues.


Director of Youth Education Sally Bittner Bonn says:


“We are thrilled to be part of the local and national bicentennial celebration of Frederick Douglass. He did some of his most important work right here in Rochester. We are honoring his legacy through a series of workshops for young people focusing on his life and times and/or on social justice issues. As Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Additionally we are participating in the national One Million Abolitionists project, which is being led by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and aims to distribute one million copies of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass to young people across the country.”


The workshops are:

Who Will Tell Your Story? Is Anybody Listening?

Ages: 12-14

This class explores the historical and cultural underpinnings of the artistic, scientific, and philosophical contributions made by indigenous American and African peoples, as well as the diverse contingent of immigrants to our country’s history


Afrofuturism and Black Panther

Ages: 12-14

Blend Black Panther-like movie storytelling and writing with your own interpretation of distinctive African cultures, history, and Sci Fi fantasy.


Rebels, Leaders, & Innovators

Ages: 5-7

Learn about people like Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller, Lou Gehrig, and more by reading age-appropriate biographies.





Heroes of Social Justice

Ages: 8-11

We will learn about local heroes in our history like Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, as well as today’s heroes and innovators such as refugee and Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini, human rights activist Yeonmi Pak, and more!


Writing the Unexpected: A Fiction Workshop for Writers of Color

Ages: 14 & Up

This class will be comprised of serious and advanced fiction writers of color. Students will learn how to build strong, complex characters who subvert stereotypes of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. We will read, write, and workshop story drafts, examining craft elements.

Citizens: A Conversation on Race, Identity, & Democracy

Ages: 14 & Up

Using Claudia Rankine’s book Citizen: An American Lyric, which recounts acts of racism in lyrical prose poems, as a jumping off point, we will engage in discussion and writing around racial, identity, and social justice issues.


We Breathe Fire: Teen Poetry Slam

Ages: Teen

This camp requires two prerequisites for all participants: Open mind. Open heart. The world is eager to hear you! “A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” – Nikki Giovanni


Write for Write: A Social Justice Workshop

Ages: 14 & Up

Located in Geneseo at the Wadsworth Library

This fiction-writing workshop honors the life of Claire Allen and her humanitarian legacy. Participants will discuss relevant and urgent social justice issues affecting local, national, and global communities, study short stories that address those issues, and help one another write their own stories that illuminate the realities of these issues. This work will culminate in a public reading intended to raise awareness and stir discussion that leads to community action to create positive change.



To learn more about these camps or about SummerWrite in general, please email Sally Bittner Bonn at