How I Spent My Summer Vacation

The Grier School

Recently took a kinda-sorta journey into the past.   I was invited to spend a couple of weeks at a summer camp  “Grier Summer,” at The Grier School – a girl’s boarding school in Western Pennsylvania.

Before the days I was published, between the ages of 17-22, I spent my summers as a counselor at an 8-week summer camp.  A very East-coast thing to do – send your kids away all summer.  The camp was up in the Catskill Mountains, Kutsher’s Camp Anawana, on beautiful Lake Anawana  (Yes, it’s a real place).

Kutsher's Camp Anawana

I went there for five years as a camper.  I was not a very good camper.  It was a sports camp, and my coordination came late.  Doing a decent layup on the basketball court might as well have been rocket science, and so I constantly felt at the bottom of the pecking order.  I wasn’t exactly the last kid chosen for teams, but I would say I was in the bottom third.   The camp plays, and swimming was where I really made my mark.

But I digress.  As a camper the experience wasn’t stellar, but I discovered quickly that I was a great counselor.  I quickly established myself as the camp story-teller, and could command absolute silence just by my presence in a cabin.  I made up camp songs that kids actually sang.  It was really that storytelling experience that got me writing books for teens.

So this summer, after years away from it, I took the invitation, and my daughters, my girlfriend, and I made our way to thebeautiful hills of Birmingham, PA.  I did ten days of writing workshops, as well as story-telling at night.  I even hosted a few of the “How to Host a Mystery” games that I had written.    My daughters got to attend the camp, and had riding lessons every day.  I even created a treasure hunt for the whole camp.   It really connected me with my youth, and reminded me why I got started writing.  I already miss it, and look forward to next year.

The thing is – just yesterday I did a full-on no-holds-barred pitch of UNWIND to Universal, for consideration as a film.   For once, I decided not to do the pitch sitting in a chair.  I told the exec, that I was breaking from convention, and I was standing.  Once I started, I got totally into it, just like I do when I’m story-telling, and I have to say it may have been the best pitch of my career.

Sometimes we all have to connect to a place in ourselves that we may have forgotten.  You can bet I’ll be doing a whole lot more storytelling.   And now I have a brand new pitch style for the studios.

The Full Body Pitch!

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4 Responses to “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”

  1. kevin Says:

    Interesting. Never heard of a “full body pitch” before.

  2. Alphonse Says:

    _Unwind_ was an intense book; not what I (used to) expect from the Young Adult genre. I loved it. The “unwind-ee’s” POV scene still creeps me out months later.

    Please, oh PLEEEEASE, don’t let Hollywood do what it usually does to good science fiction stories that I love…

    (This from an old curmudgeon who still grits his teeth at the atrocity that Disney perpetrated on _The Jungle Book_ 40+ years ago.)

  3. Heather Says:

    I lov that pic of the house it is prety that is also a lot of kids in the ather

  4. Heather Says:

    it is me agin after like one week i am done with part four if you get on any other blogs that neal shusterman has than you probley heard this but i am writing a book based on unwind but they have a desise like cancer and at the end they might die i dont know yet do you have any tips than i need them. 🙂 🙂

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