This is where it all began
Summer Ink began when two history teachers, Debbie Reck and Arthur Unobskey, noticed that their students, especially those from underserved areas, struggled to explain themselves in their writing. Wanting to help, Debbie and Arthur began grappling with the essential questions of literacy education:
How do you teach students to write?
Which skills are necessary to good writing and in what order?
How can you tell if students are acquiring those skills?
To explore these questions, in 1994, Debbie and Arthur established a summer writing camp, The Writers’ Express. With their first set of 10 campers, they began to pilot methods of teaching writing. The camp functioned as a kind of laboratory where Debbie, Arthur, and their staff could try a range of techniques and monitor the results. They discovered that to improve writing, students required feedback from adults who recognized their insights in a mutually supportive classroom climate. The writing program Debbie and Arthur developed, The Writers’ Express™ (WEX) method incorporates these supports, builds daily on foundational writing habits, and challenges students through extensive sharing with peers to recognize different perspectives on similar experiences. Since its inception, WEX has been adopted and implemented by dozens of schools and hundreds of teachers nationwide.
The summer program Debbie and Arthur created, now called Summer Ink, has grown from serving a small group in its first year to a current enrollment of about 130 students. The program moved to Tufts University in 1997 and then to Simmons College in 2004, where it continued to serve middle school students. The high school program, Boston & Beyond, launched in 2006. In 2009, Wireless Generation (later known as Amplify) purchased WEX. The Summer Ink camp broke off into as a separate entity, though it continues to be fully licensed to use WEX.
Thanks to Debbie and Arthur and the work they invested in WEX, Summer Ink serves as a national model for how students can learn outside the classroom in an engaging, academically rigorous way.
total days of camp
journal entries written
canoes tipped over
To give all students the power to explore their ideas, the skills to communicate them clearly, and the conviction that the world wants to hear them.
Summer Ink uses The Writers’ Express Method to transform the literacy skills of all students who attend our camps. Through a highly structured teaching method and curriculum, students learn the fundamental behavioral habits they need to focus on the work at hand, the academic engagement required to take their education seriously, and the core writing skills to communicate their ideas clearly and persuasively.
From the first day, Summer Ink campers are urged to take social and academic risks. They are encouraged to reach out to fellow campers, who come from throughout the Greater Boston area and beyond, to establish the trust and friendship that allows them to share their writing. By the end of the session, every camper’s writing should reflect greater focus, more sensory detail, and convey the writer’s unique voice. Campers will have exchanged meaningful feedback with counselors and peers, leading to a better understanding of how their writing impacts their audience.