Campfire Story: a Tutor/Student Collaboration

"Campfire" courtesy of franky242 /
“Campfire” courtesy of franky242 /
The original picture we used for inspiration shows people in a semi-circle around a campfire.

I’m trying to motivate one of my tutoring students who I see for writing.  We began with an image that he needed to use as inspiration to create a story.  My student is an extremely intelligent, creative young man but just does not like to write.  He especially has a hard time writing good details (and using a lot of them).  The best I’ve had from his so far is when I had him play some classical music and write stories from it.  So, I know he can do it!

Since I do like to write and am trying to get myself to do more of it, I figured we could team up and get somewhere.  I also told him that I would be posting this — his name anonymous, of course — and that I would share any comments I got back from it, so please feel free to leave comments directly to him.  You can maybe call him “Writing Student A” or something.  Also, if you have any writing ideas for us, please share!

Unfortunately, my student couldn’t stay serious and kept trying to throw in the story of the 3 Little Pigs — or a variation thereof —  through a campfire story or at the end of the story.  (In a previous lesson I had him do a variation of a common fairytale/fable, and he hooked on to the “Three Little Pigs” and hasn’t let go since!)  Then, at then at the end of the story he kept trying to kill everyone off — or at the very least, the animals — and tried to bring in AK47s and other assault weapons into the story.  Since I was also writing this story and also didn’t think it was appropriate or realistic that AK47’s would be in a camping situation — although maybe the family was aware of the bears? — I had to keep taking over or redirecting and ended up writing much of the story myself or running with anything tamer that I might catch from his lips.  (In previous lessons we’ve written stories where we go back and forth — I write a sentence and then he writes a sentence, etc — and inevitably, he keeps killing off my characters, and I’ll either introduce new ones or try to resurrect the old ones. . . . If you’re interested in any of his other pieces of work, let me know, and I’ll post those, too. (This past lesson he wrote a simple but great appreciation letter about a pizza rolls company that he’s going to send sometime in the next week.)

So here we go!  His part is underlinedparts that I wrote with ideas from him are in italics; my parts are regular type:

“Every summer our whole family gathers together in the woods behind my uncle’s house for some good old-fashioned camping and campfire storiesSometimes the stories are from my family’s past.  Sometimes they are ghost stories.  But whatever stories they are — I never want to miss a one.  I sit, leaning forward, my eyes wide open, my head cocked, straining to catch every word — until at some point I inevitably fall asleep.

Later I wake up, and everybody around me is still telling stories.  They say it’s my turn, so I start to tell the story of the time I saw a ghost hunter with the vacuum that sucks up ghosts.  Three ghosts came out of the girls’ bathroom at Edward’s hospital, and the ghost hunter killed the ghosts.

My uncles and aunts encourage me and ask me questions about my story.  But I don’t know what to talk about, so I smile sheepishly and ask them to skip my turn.  One hour later we all fall asleep, one-by-one.  

After a while, 3 black bears come out and steal all of our food!  One bear found a really, really, really, really, really, really, really (etc) big pack of bacon.  That bear accidentally dropped the bacon on another bear’s head.  Then they got into a fight because the bear who dropped the bacon thought the other bear was going to steal his food.  And then they caused so much commotion that everyone woke up.  Everyone started screaming.  Barely thinking, I found a match book, set a stick on fire, and lobbed it toward the bears; the grass caught a bit on fire.

Thankfully, the noise and fire shocked the bears who ran off with the rest of our camp food hanging from their jaws.  The shaken family had enough wits about them to stomp out the fire that had started.

Now I finally have a story to tell at our next campfire!”

Again, please share comments!  I will copy and paste this story and your comments onto a document to share with him next week.

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