Another great ARROW Retreat!

ARROW Retreat 2015 was a blast!


Twelve participants from MDI, its outer islands, and Trenton gathered at Camp Beech Cliff during their April vacation for four half-days of writing and art workshops under the stellar guidance of Newbery Medal author Clare Vanderpool and Maine artist Rebekah Raye.




Each day was a mash-up of group activities, workshops, and group sessions where participants shared with others the writing and art they created during the retreat.


We all learned a lot about each other and ourselves during group activities, including (but certainly not limited to):

-It’s tough getting out of a human knot!

-Sometimes rappers write lyrics about the number pi.

-There are more fans of Star Wars in the group than Star Trek.

-A human wave requires trust, and is hard to pull off when most of the group is laughing!

-If you can’t catch a frisbee, dodging it is the next best option. Frisbees! Frisbees everywhere!




During the first two days, Clare Vanderpool shared her story about how she became a writer and how long it took her to get published, what it’s like to be a writer, and some secrets about how she created her characters and the plot of Navigating Early, the retreat’s featured book.


She guided participants through writing exercises focused on developing a character, and had participants interview each other’s characters so each writer could think more deeply about the character they created.


We enjoyed the beautiful facilities at Camp Beech Cliff during group activities and breaks. Though we had one stormy day (volunteer Mel Rice, formerly of Texas, referred to it as a “toad strangler”), the rain stopped for the rest of the week and we were able to play outside and run around campus.


Many of the participants also joined us and two Acadia National Park ranger interns on a hike up Beech Mountain before Day Three’s regular schedule began. The rangers demonstrated orienteering techniques, and challenged the hikers to write from a 360-degree perspective while at the top of the trail (don’t forget to think about what’s behind you!).



The final two days were devoted to art, and Rebekah Raye (always a huge hit!) gave a presentation on her artistic practice and where she finds inspiration. She led them through a drawing and painting process using graphite pencils and crayons, tracing and transfer paper, watercolors and pastel pencils.


Each participant had the option to create either a book cover for their story, or a scene from their story and, even though we added additional art workshops for this year’s retreat, they still wanted more art once the workshops were over!


We concluded the retreat with a public exhibit of the participants’ artwork, with an opportunity for them to also share their writing. We packed the house with parents and friends!


So what did the participants have to say about the retreat?

I really enjoyed being able to work with a real author.

I met really funny, cool, new people, and learned new things about my old friends. Also, I loved having Rebekah Raye and Clare Vanderpool as teachers.

Rebekah Raye brought the creativity right out of me.

It’s an invaluable learning experience.


IRW is grateful for: the ideas, help, and expertise of Clare Vanderpool, Rebekah Raye, volunteers Debby Messer and Mel Rice; the participants’ fervor for honing their writing and art skills, and their contagious joy; parents for bringing their children to the retreat each day; and Camp Beech Cliff staff for assistance and use of their campus. The ARROW Retreat is possible due to grant funding, for which we are truly grateful!

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