Madeline Island Writing Intensive

This workshop has ended; keep up with future youth retreats in our newsletter!

for young women aged 13 to 17

July 20-25, 2014

Discovering the sound of your own fierce, original voice--and learning how to use it well--is a lifelong gift. Just 1 spot left! 

"Jeannine Ouellette is a night gardener. A nurturer in others of that which is yet unsprouted and unseen. She gracefully held potential and confidence for my teenage daughter when my daughter doubted herself. The Elephant Rock workspace was beautiful, creative, safe, and freeing. My daughter left more certain of new friends, herself, and her writing." --Timothy Frantzich, father, singer-songwriter, grade school teacher

Writing: Jeannine Ouellette

Yoga & Meditation: Amanda McGuire Rzicznek

Coordinator: Lilian Raine Fithian-Zurn

Camp Counselors: Liza Stoner and Helen McCullough

This small writing intensive is distinct from most writing workshops available for young women. The week will include a mix of writing prompts, creativity building, yoga, and meditation in a beautiful restored barn on a gorgeous island known for its literary tradition. Creative catalysts will help young writers discover and refine their own voices at a time when doing so is especially crucial. We will explore essentials of craft while developing deep discernment for language that will strengthen not just creative writing, but self-expression in all its forms. Located on Lake Superior's Madeline Island (across from Bayfield, Wisconsin), this retreat is especially suited for young writers with tremendous passion for creative writing and a genuine desire to take their writing to the next level.

Discovering Voice

We will focus on creative catalysts, craft, how to complete and revise work, and—most important of all—how to find and continually rediscover an original, authentic voice in writing. How to discern effective language without losing the love for writing. Thoughtfully selected exercises will lead writers safely and joyfully into creative risk taking through the portals of playful and profound, silly and soulful. Innovative word play, yoga, and artistic work to unlock doorways into creative insights. They will be guided into ways to access their own intuition in writing. Ultimately, each girl will have the opportunity to discover and believe in the sound of her own fierce, original voice.

Sharpening Skill

Workshops will include guided experiential writing with prompts as well as afternoon discussions and readings, with application of principles of craft and precision of writing, and finally, completion of a longer piece (one or a few pages of polished work, not a book). Writers approaching the college essay age will get tips there as well (more effective tips than the usual formulaic ones).


Developing Discernment

Nothing is more important for writers than reading. We will explore masterful writing: poetry, short story excerpts, and perhaps a novella or two in advance. We will "pull back the curtain" and identify and discuss elements of craft (sensory description, narrative voice, point of view, active voice, power verbs, symbolism, metaphor, etc.).

Writing Through The Body

We are physical creatures, and respecting this improves and deepens our creative work exponentially. We weave in gentle yoga and meditation to support the creative process—but no previous yoga experience is required! And of course we’ll have plenty of time spent enjoying the natural surroundings, cooking meals together, and creating community.



The Retreat Center

The retreat property (a restored and relocated Vermont barn on Lake Superior!) is owned by a long-time supporter of literature and yoga with ties to Milkweed Editions, and this beautiful property as well as Madeline Island itself is steeped in literary tradition. The barn is a lovely, serene environment with wonderful indoor space for group work in addition to nooks and crannies for working in pairs, small groups, or alone. With 18 acres on the shore of Lake Superior, we will have ample opportunity for campfires, hikes, swimming, and daydreaming. 


Getting to Madeline Island

Transportation will be by car to the ferry in Bayfield at a designated meeting time for drop-off and pick-up. For a small additional fee, writers can join the Elephant Rock van carpool to and from Bayfield. Elephant Rock staff will ferry over and back with all participants. We will also help parents who are not opting for the van to arrange carpools if desired once registration is complete.



$1500 includes all programming, materials, and meals.

Application Deadline

July 7, 2014

Registration for this intensive is by application via email. If you/your daughter or young writer in your life is interested, please submit via email 1) a short essay (300 words double-spaced maximum) on why you love to write and why you want to come to the retreat, and 2) a very short writing sample that represents your best work (3 pages maximum, double spaced). The writing sample can be poetry, prose, fiction, or creative essay. Work created in the past for school is just fine, but creative writing only … no school research reports, please. Don’t worry too much about the application. I mainly just want to get a sense of each participant and her writing!


For adult writers seeking to light the fire of their own creativity in writing, the Elephant Rock Memoir Writing Intensive in October has three spots available, and we would love to welcome you!