At An Elegant Word, students participate in activities aimed to inspire a love of words, sentences, and word-play. With the support of guided group discussion, brainstorming, and critique, students learn to write with appropriate structure while enlivening their prose with stylistic flare. An intensive overview of style elements assists students in developing vivid vocabulary and sophisticated sentence variety.

A transplant from California to Texas, Jen Hartenburg reads, writes, and plays in the Houston area where she lives with her husband and their two children. Having earned a B.A. in English Literature and a M.A. in Education, Jen enjoys teaching writing and humanities courses to elementary, middle, and highschool students. She began teaching literature and writing in 1997 and helped pilot an interactive online program for highschool students through Biola University beginning in 2000. A homeschool parent/teacher of two, Jen also enjoys hiking, dancing, drinking tea, and listening to the rain. Jen is an Accomplished Instructor with the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Her poetry and creative non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in literary journals including Rattle: Poets Respond, Weber—The Contemporary West, The Saint Katherine Review, The Other Journal, Dappled Things, and The Christian Century.

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2018 Advanced Essay Camp

UPDATE: This camp has been CANCELLED for 2018. Let us know if you’re interested in this camp for next summer, 2019.
Who: Grades 9–12, returning students only
When: August 6–10, 2018, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Where: Houston Baptist University, hosted by The Academy at HBU in the University Academic Center (UAC) classrooms, 7502 Fondren Rd, Houston, TX, 77074

Business woman writing in notebook

In addition to reviewing sentence structure and stylistic elements, returning students will read essays by master writers, analyzing and imitating their respective styles in a series of response essays of their own. Studying an array of the best American essays from the past century, students will gain exposure to different essay structures and themes ranging from opinion piece to social appeal, from personal essay to literary theodicy. The skill and insight of great authors serves as inspiration for students who are finding their own individual voices. By imitating the sentence structures and essay organization of great authors, students can be empowered to compose their own beautiful, powerful work as they join the larger conversation. This advanced essay course makes a direct bridge for the student between imitating great writing and composing beautiful writing in their own words. Students will also gain practice with timed, in-class writing as well as with the revision and critique process.

To receive the full benefit of the writing camp, students will need sufficient time and a handful of supplies. In addition to the three hours of class time, students should plan to spend another two or three hours each day completing homework. One or two weeks before the start of camp, enrolled students will receive an electronic packet of essays to read in preparation. The reading level of the packet is challenging, so students may want to plan ahead to get the most out of their reading experience. Discussing the reading material with family and friends may also aid comprehension and enjoyment as students head into the camp week.

Students should secure the following supplies before the start of class:

  • Dictionary & Thesaurus—Consider apps such as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the English Thesaurus.
  • Pack of 6 different colored pencils: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple—Preferably erasable!
  • Pens/Pencils
  • 3-ring binder with 5 or more dividers and lined notebook paper (If you have the binder with handouts from a previous writing camp, please use that!)
  • Composition book

Students in the Advanced Essay Writing camp will also need to be able to type, print, and email assignments using a sharable word processing program such as Microsoft Word.

Camp tuition is $250/student. Enrollment will be confirmed and your spot reserved once payment is received.



Note: This Advanced Essay camp is open to highschool students who either are participating in another of the camps this summer—the Basic Essay camp/the Thesis Essay camp—or who have participated in a writing camp with An Elegant Word in a previous summer. Accomplished writers who have not previously studied with me are welcome to inquire about an exception by submitting a writing sample via email.

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