Let’s Talk: My Personal Writing Journey

Hello everyone!

Today I wanted to discuss something that I have never previously talked about in detail on my blog: my personal writing. I mentioned in my post about why I started my blog (go check that out!) that I liked to write and starting this blog has been an outlet for that, but I never really dug deeper into my other writing experience and projects. Part of the reason for that is that I really don’t have a lot of concrete experience; I’ve just always enjoyed putting ink to paper and jotting down any thoughts I have. However, I thought I would just talk about my writing a little more and throw it out there for any fellow aspiring writers to read and maybe relate to.

My love for writing sprung from English class and a childhood love of reading; I’ve always been sort of a geek in that way, but I just LOVED English and diving into new books, whether they were school-required novels or books I picked up at the library to read for fun. I don’t read as much now unless it is for school just because of my busy schedule, but I’ve re-read a decent amount of my old favorite books this summer. Since I loved to read so much, English has always been my favorite class. Once I got into middle school and English class ventured more into writing assignments/essays, I fell in love with writing as well. I was a meticulous journal-keeper from the ages 5-8, but I had little writing experience other than that until middle school.

Any essay or paragraph writing assignment I had, I would spend the most time on out of any of my other homework. I would analyze every word I used (I wish I still had time to do that when I write!) and I could proof-read and edit for hours. I always did pretty well on these assignments as a reflection of my hard work, and in eighth grade a couple of my pieces got selected by my honors English teacher for our school’s literary magazine- I still have the paper copy of it in my closet somewhere. Last year (freshman year of high school), essays became more of a nerve-wracking task. Most of the ones we wrote were timed in-class essays; we had 45-50 minutes to complete them and rather than being exciting as all other writing assignments had always been, they made me nervous and I dreaded them. I learned to work with the time constraint and I still usually did pretty well grade-wise on them, but it wasn’t as fun as when I could take my time.

I still loved my 9th grade honors English teacher and all of the literature we read in that class; however, it wasn’t fulfilling my love of writing in the same way due to the fast pace of assignments and the fact that outside of essays, we didn’t really write that much. I started to seek out other ways to write for pleasure and express that part of myself. I discovered a whole new world of people publishing their writing in teen literary journals online, and began reading some beautiful works. I started to read poetry and attempt writing my own- I even submitted a couple poems (not sure how good they were..) to some of the literary journals I stumbled upon; I haven’t heard back from any yet since it wasn’t too long ago, but I’ll give an update eventually.

Finding all of these fellow writers and reading their AMAZING work was a blessing but also a curse in some ways. My work paled in comparison to theirs; I’ve always been strong in essay writing and I used to jot down little anecdotes about my life in journals, but I’m not the best at shaping creative ideas into something beautiful like all of these poets and storywriters that I was coming across. There was also the fact that I just didn’t have a lot of time inbetween cheer, homework, and volunteering to really hone the craft and keep writing (both for fun and to build my skills). I tried to set aside a little bit of time for writing each day and I’m still currently doing so, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I try to make up for this by reading other works when I have a spare moment in the car or looking things up related to writing on my phone, but I know the best way to gain more experience is to just sit down and write. I’ve been trying to make that more of a priority.

Lastly, I want to mention a specific teen literary publication: Polyphony Lit. I stumbled upon Polyphony somehow (I honestly don’t remember how) and I LOVED the way they were running things. They’re run mainly by high schoolers that sign up to be editors and give feedback on all the submissions (you move up in ranks the more you edit/improve/stay on the staff), ultimately choosing which pieces to put in their publication for the year and returning the rest with a bunch of feedback so the writers can improve! Since anyone can sign up to be the lowest rank of editor, I signed up and did a trial edit assignment; they accepted me and as soon as I return from cheer camp, I will be tackling my first submission! Before I signed up, I also submitted one of my own pieces- it wasn’t the best so I don’t have high hopes, but I haven’t heard back from them yet so who knows. I also purchased their most recent edition of the magazine/book. I devoured it within an hour or two- the people featured in it are truly so talented and all of the pieces were amazing. I highly recommend checking them out for yourselves.

I hope you guys enjoyed learning about my experiences with creative writing! I’m trying to spend more time on my writing and I have a few ideas/pieces I want to work on in mind and possibly submit to publications later, so I’ll probably give updates on those at some point. Let me know if you have any questions or would like more posts related to writing! I’m not an expert or a full-on author by any means, but I would love to chat with other writers. I’ll be back with more exciting content soon!

-Brooke

A Girl’s High School Survival Guide

Welcome back everyone!

Today I have more high school advice for you all- I know that the start of school is inching closer and closer, so I wanted to put something out that may calm all of you incoming freshmen out there. I already put up a post a while ago called “Advice I Wish I Got Before Starting High School”, so if you haven’t read that already, go check it out! Some of the tips in that post will be similar to these, but I wanted to write this post since I made a similar “survival guide” for middle schoolers. If you’re an incoming freshman, I was in your shoes only a year ago and trust me- high school is not nearly as scary as you think. My freshman year flew by so incredibly fast, and even though it’s an adjustment from middle school, you’ll find your way fairly quickly.

Here are some tips that will hopefully make this new and exciting experience seem a little less scary and a little more doable:

  • Get involved ASAP!! This is one of the most important pieces of advice I could give you. Join things related to your interests as soon as possible- whether it’s clubs, electives, sports teams, other programs your school has, whatever! There are two reasons this is so important- you will most likely meet a ton of new people that you already have things in common with, and it’s also good for college applications down the road that you started finding extracurriculars you care about back in freshman year (and you can continue doing them and growing your passion all throughout high school!). Don’t be afraid to join something if you don’t know anyone- just do it and you can always quit it later if it ends up not being your thing or you don’t end up making friends there.
  • Expand your horizons and keep an open mind. This is a very broad statement, but I think that’s why it works. You’re going to be meeting lots of new people that may be different from what you’re used to, you’re being thrown into a new environment, and you’ll most likely have more on your plate than you ever have before. Try to have a positive attitude going into each day and every new experience you encounter- it will make it much easier to enjoy it all.
  • Accept that groups will change and people will be intermixing between them. It was hard for me to accept this one. Based on classes and extracurriculars/sports, everyone around you will be making new friends, and it’s natural for your group to split up in different directions. This can honestly be a positive thing though; it gives you chances to branch out and if you maintain relationships with some of your friends even if you drift apart a little, you can form connections with their new groups as well. Some of the happiest and most social people I know have a few different close friends that are all spread across groups, and then they rotate among those different groups and socialize with all the people in them.
  • It’s okay to drift from middle school friends. This goes with the last tip, but I just wanted to stress this point. Before I mentioned friends splitting up in different directions but still maintaining their individual friendships- it doesn’t always happen like this, and sometimes you will completely drift away. That’s totally fine; it happens to everyone at some point. You most likely won’t even have the same friends all throughout high school- things constantly change and you’ll learn to roll with it.
  • Talk to as many people as possible. Especially if you’re at a big high school (mine has around 2500 kids and my grade is about 600), there will be TONS of people you’ve never seen or met before- there are still people I don’t know. Try and make a couple new friends in each of your classes; that way, you’ll definitely have at least one person you can ask about homework or other assignments, and you could even ask them to study with you. Everyone’s in the same position as you, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation.
  • Don’t get intimidated by upperclassmen. You most likely won’t interact with upperclassmen at all unless you’re in super advanced classes or if you’re on a varsity sports team/in other activities with mixed grades. They honestly don’t care about freshmen; freshmen don’t have the best reputation on campus, but no self-respecting junior or senior will actually go out of their way to take harmful action against them. Some may actually be nice if you get to know them and they see you’re not one of the immature freshies! Tip: Don’t walk slow!!! That realllly annoys the upper grade students.
  • Know that in high school, people in relationships are usually just dating to date. This is a personal opinion but I really believe this; the truth is, most people dating in high school aren’t going to stay together forever and get married. Therefore, there isn’t a huge purpose to getting into a relationship and dealing with all the drama that often follows. Obviously do whatever you want because it’s your choice; if you feel strongly towards a person and they like you back, go for it! Just make sure you’re in it for the right reasons and it’s a person you genuinely like and can see yourself having fun with- preferably, a nice person that you would be able to stay friends with after breaking up.
  • Take challenging classes (AP/IB, honors) as soon as they are offered to you (if you know you can handle them)! You want to make the most of high school and challenge yourself as much as possible. This is important for college as well- schools want to see that you’re taking a rigorous course load each year and doing as well as possible in those classes. Don’t overload yourself with academics if you already have a lot of time-consuming activities that are important to you though; in the end, those activities are more important since you genuinely care about them and they will set you apart from other students once you apply to colleges. Keep your grades up though!! Some people say freshman year grades don’t matter, but they count for your cumulative GPA so they are still important.
  • Enjoy the beginning of the year- 1st semester is so much more fun than 2nd. This is my personal opinion and some people may disagree with this, but I found the beginning of the year was the best part!! Football season and all of the time spent with new friends and just getting a feel for the year happens then, plus the holiday season and all the events that come with that are just the best. Second semester is a lot more stressful; there’s a lot more work and tests along with higher expectations from teachers, plus you’ll just be counting down the days until summer so it seems to go by so much slower. Either way, soak in all those beginning-of-the-year moments before you’re stuck in the late winter/spring slump.
  • You will learn to balance it all eventually. Just have fun!! Time flies 🙂 I stressed out wayyyy too much during most of my freshman year when it wasn’t really necessary. I wish I relaxed a bit more and just lived in the moment; I didn’t appreciate my surroundings as much as I could have, and I regret it looking back now. Make sure you take any opportunity to have fun with your friends while also staying on top of your work and other responsibilities- it’s a lot of work, but everything will work out! I promise it’s worth it.

I hope these little pieces of advice helped you guys out! I promise you guys will be fine and even flourish once you get to school; everyone finds their path. Let me know if you have any more questions about high school or any school-related content requests- I’m always happy to help. I’m currently at cheer camp (I wrote and scheduled this post a couple days in advance), so posts about that are coming soon as well, they will probably go up once I return!

-Brooke

Let’s Talk: Being A High School Cheerleader & Stereotypes

Hello everyone!

I’m going to discuss a topic that I found fitting considering I left for cheer camp today. I am a cheerleader at my high school; this is my second year of school cheer but my third year of cheer overall as I competed on a beginner’s team at my local competitive cheer gym in eighth grade. After participating in the two main types of cheerleading today (competitive aka “all-star” cheer and high school cheer), I feel that I’ve learned a lot about the sport and all its ins and outs. Cheerleaders definitely don’t have the best reputation- being one comes with a lot of stereotypes and assumptions. I want to address some of these and offer my perspective as an average cheerleader.

First, I would like to clear up that cheer is NOT how it is generally portrayed in movies/social media/the average person’s mind, etc. Cheerleaders are not always the popular, stuck-up girls that rule the school and date the football players. Fun fact- I wouldn’t consider myself friends with a single football player. Of course there are going to be a few girls like that, but you can find those types of people anywhere and not just in cheer. In fact, cheer actually has quite a pathetic reputation at my school- people often make fun of the cheerleaders and call them wannabe dance team members. Cheer and dance are VERY different sports (ask any cheerleader or dancer!), but people often view them as similar; at my school, our dance team just has the better reputation since they are a very successful competitive team whereas our sideline cheer team does not compete. Our school does have a competitive STUNT team, but it’s fairly new/lesser known, and I chose not to join it so I can’t say too much about it besides the fact that it’s very intense.

It frustrates me when people make fun of cheer and say that it’s not a real sport. Yes, sideline cheer/non-competitive high school cheer is not really a sport and I totally agree with people who argue that. However, any form of competitive cheer is 100% a sport- in my opinion, one of the most challenging sports out there. Tumbling and stunting are both very difficult to master and require a lot of strength, and cheerleaders have to make it look easy while also incorporating jumps and dancing/motions. Also, even if high school cheer isn’t always considered a full-on “sport” because we don’t compete, it’s still frustrating when people disregard all of our hard work because of that very fact. We put in as much practice time and work into our routines as any other sports team would for their games. My team may not be out on a competition mat, but we’re still working on jumps and stunting while perfecting dances and halftime routines (admittedly, we don’t do much tumbling at all).

My cheer team has actually had practices all summer, so I believe we do work extremely hard. Our coaches have been conditioning us a lot and we usually run a mile as our warmup every practice. We’ve been putting in even more work than usual the last week (personally, I hadn’t been at practices since the middle of June because my family trip conflicted with some and then we had a break from cheer in July for a while) since we are gearing up for camp. When this post goes up, I will be in the middle of our first day at camp; we go to a four-day cheer camp each summer to bond and gain more skills as a team. The camp is hosted by USA (United Spirit Association) and this year the location we are attending camp at is the Knott’s Berry Farm resort hotel.

I will be posting soon about my experiences at camp- it’s definitely a crazy busy time and a lot of hard work, but I’ll get the posts up as soon as I can! I also already posted an article about how I packed for camp and my essentials for any sports camp in general, so check that out if you haven’t already. I hope you guys enjoyed this little insight on what it’s like to be a high school cheerleader- let me know if you want more cheer related content and be on the lookout for those camp posts! I’ll be back soon, wish me luck for the rest of camp 🙂

-Brooke

Why I Started A Blog & Why You Should Too

Hello everyone!

Today I’m going to be discussing the reasons I started this very blog that you’re currently reading! I’ve been posting on here for a little over one month now (since the beginning of summer), and I can’t believe how fast the time has flown. Starting a blog has been a wonderful creative outlet for me, and it was much easier than I originally thought. I’m still new to this (my blog is relatively simple, as you can tell) so I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I just thought I would talk about my rationale for beginning this online journey.

I’ve always loved to write and I knew I wanted to have a place online where I could share my thoughts. Initially I thought I should start a YouTube channel, but I realized I didn’t have the skill to film, edit, and upload quality videos- plus, it wouldn’t allow me to use my writing skills. I would still be interested in starting a YouTube channel sometime in the future; starting a blog just seemed better aligned with my current interests. Also, there’s a big difference between posting little articles and anecdotes online and actually making videos that show your face and more direct insight into your life. I wasn’t ready to get that up-close-and-personal.

Therefore, I knew I wanted to start a blog. My parents thought it was a nice idea and would let me explore my creative side more- they suggested I start it at the beginning of summer so I could write about our vacation. I was so busy at the end of the school year that I literally forgot about my plans to start said blog; I was sitting at our gate in LAX waiting to board our flight to Paris when I suddenly remembered. I quickly Googled the best free website to start a blog for beginners, and I found WordPress.

After speeding through the account making process (I didn’t officially design my page or figure anything out until after I returned from my trip, I just wrote and posted while I was away), I started typing my first post introducing myself and explaining the trip I was going on. **Self-promo: go check out the posts I’m referring to covering my Europe trip! It was my first time out of the country and I went to France and Italy; it was the best time ever and those posts are very different than what I currently write about- go check them out!

Throughout my trip, I didn’t think too much about the specific details of running a blog. At the end of each night before I went to bed, I made sure I had a comprehensive record of the entire day’s events, uploaded pictures of notable sights, and posted for the day. Once I got home and adjusted back to everyday life, I realized the types of content I’d be posting would be very different. I currently dabble in basic lifestyle stuff and opinion posts, but I’ve also mainly written about school-related things and advice. I’m still experimenting with different categories; I pretty much write whatever idea for a post comes into my head, since I try to post everyday that I’m not super busy.

I think blogging is a very underrated form of self-expression; you can write about whatever you want, and there’s always going to be an audience out there for it somewhere. I’ve always read different types of blogs based on whatever I was interested at the time; there really is a blog covering any type of interest or topic you can imagine. Starting a blog isn’t as time-consuming or scary as you may think- you can put in as much time as you have/want! If it becomes a more serious part of your life then it may become a bit more demanding, but I haven’t reached that point yet. It may be difficult to manage still posting consistently once school starts and my schedule is full, but you can always schedule content to go up in advance (I’ve been working on doing this!).

If you’ve always wanted to start a blog but you were unsure about committing to it or thought you wouldn’t know what to write about, JUST DO IT! Once you get your first post up there and start designing your site, you’ll see just how fun it can be. It doesn’t have to be a stressful time coming up with ideas; just run with whatever pops in your head and write about it.

This post in itself is definitely very different than what I’ve been writing about lately. I hope you guys enjoyed it and possibly got inspired to start your own blogs- trust me, if I can do it, you can too! Let me know if you have any questions about starting out as a blogger or any requests for more content. New posts are coming soon!

-Brooke

My Cheer Camp Packing List & Essentials

Welcome back everyone!

Today I am going to be telling you guys everything I packed for cheer camp and my recommendations on what you should bring if you’re attending a cheer camp (or any sports camp) yourself! My high school cheer team is attending a four day/three night camp at Knott’s Berry Farm (hosted in the hotel on the grounds, I believe), hosted by USA. USA stands for United Spirit Association, and we attend one of their camps every summer; we also go to some of their local events and clinics. Last year we went to their camp held at UCSB where there were no linens or toiletries provided, whereas we staying in a hotel this year that provides a few of those things. Therefore, I definitely packed a little less this year: no towels or bedsheets!

Here’s everything I packed for this adventure:

  • My cheer uniform (liner- long sleeve part, shell- tank top part with logo, skirt, undershorts)
  • Cheer shoes
  • Socks (no-show)
  • 3 pairs of Varsity shorts, 1 black and 2 blue (these were part of our required uniform order, I prefer Nike Pros but we have to wear these as a team)
  • 3 Varsity tank tops with various school logos/phrasing on them (again, part of our required uniform order, we had a certain shirt for each main day of camp)
  • 3 pairs of pajamas
  • Extra change of comfy clothes (including normal bra!!) for bus ride home
  • Theme outfit for the rally night – the theme is USA road trip destinations, we brought a bunch of touristy type things (that’s the best way to describe it I guess)
  • Underwear
  • Sports bras (1 white, 1 black, and two others of random colors)
  • Jacket
  • Black leggings
  • Nikes – there’s one night where we can go into the park, so we need non-cheer shoes
  • Sunscreen!!! This is necessary if you don’t want to get badly burnt; most cheer classes are outside since dance teams practice inside always.
  • Reusable water bottle – I have a Hydro Flask that I always bring to anything cheer related
  • Phone charger
  • Portable charger – Everyday is LONG and your phone will die if you don’t have one
  • White bow
  • Bow with our school colors and logo
  • Poms
  • Cheer backpack – we have matching ones from Varsity
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, hairties, bobby pins, deodorant, perfume, hairspray, lip gloss, mascara, highlighter, bronzer, concealer, razor, soap, shampoo, conditioner, makeup remover, face wash, rubber bands for braces, chapstick, etc. **Disclaimer: my coaches made us bring makeup so we could wear it for our evaluation routines. Camp is hot and tiring so if your coaches aren’t making you, I would recommend NOT even worrying about makeup.
  • SNACKS!! Depending on your camp location (college = dining hall food, hotel = it depends), your food options may not be the greatest. Plus, all the working out will make you hungry in-between. I recommend bringing Clif bars or your energy/protein bars of choice, other quick snacks, and Gatorade chews. A good rule of thumb is to bring anything you would eat before or during a normal workout.

I hope this list helped any of you guys that are also attending a cheer camp or sports camp soon! I know USA has a lot of dance/cheer/etc. camps, so maybe some of you guys will be attending one as well- let me know if you are! I leave for camp on Monday and come back Thursday; I will definitely be posting about each day’s experience eventually, but I’m not sure if I will have time to do it while I am there. Either way, that content will be coming shortly. Let me know as always if you guys have any other requests.

-Brooke

High School Backpack Essentials (Not School Supplies)

Welcome back everyone!

Today I’m going to share some things you should always have with you in your backpack as a high school student. This can apply to middle school as well, but in my middle school we were not allowed to carry around backpacks. I put a ton of “essentials” in my bag at the beginning of the school year, but I only ended up actively using a few of them. That being said, here are those items that I actually used!

  • Chapstick – This is a basic essential if you usually have chapped lips like I do. My choice chapstick is Carmex, but whichever one you use, make sure you have an extra in your bag- especially for the fall and winter months!
  • Hairties and mini hairbrush – You’ll definitely need these if you play a sport at school; my hair never looked good by the end of a windy or rainy day, but I could easily use these in a pinch to put my hair up or make it more presentable. It’s also good to have extra in case you need to put your hair up for a science lab or for practice and other people forgot to bring their own.
  • Small bills/change for the vending machines – I’m not sure if all schools have vending machines, but I think most do! If you’re craving a certain drink or forgot to pack a snack, it’s always good to have money and get something at the vending machine. Just bring money in general for food/snacks, whether on campus or off.
  • Reusable water bottle – Most schools have water fountains around campus or even better, specific stations for water bottle refilling. Bring a reusable water bottle (my favorites are Hydro Flasks) and limit your use of plastic; it’s more convenient in the long run and it will keep your water colder too.
  • Stapler (mini) – This will be a lifesaver for you and all your classmates when you have those strict teachers that require your paper be stapled and ready to go as soon as you walk into class. It’s just helpful in general because you’ll be stapling lots of packets/projects/papers throughout the year, and you can’t always rely on your teacher letting you use the stapler in class.
  • Phone charger or portable charger – Even if your school has a stricter phone policy, I still found myself using my phone way more on breaks and such during the school day than I did in middle school. At one point or another your phone (or someone else’s!) will need a charge, and some teachers may even let you plug your phones in during class (my bio teacher had a special place for charging phones to hang).
  • Paper reinforcers – I’m not sure what the official name for these is, but they’re the little stickers you can place around the holes on lined paper if they get torn. This way, you can still place them in a binder. I just had a few sheets in my bag and you never know when you’ll need them.
  • Band-Aids – This may not be an essential for everyone, but I’m pretty accident-prone! Similar to other items on this list, other people may need one at some point too; it’s always a great thing to be the overprepared mom friend who has everything in their bag. If you fall down the stairs, get a scrape while playing sports, etc., you don’t need to rely on the school’s limited first-aid kits.
  • Your School ID – I know this may seem obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many people quickly lose their IDs or leave them at home on a daily basis. Don’t do that!! Your ID can get you free admission to sports games, discounted rates on certain items like the yearbook (usually), and you’ll most likely need it whenever you’re buying school lunch or checking out books in the library. Plus, if you ever get in trouble, admin will expect you to have and present your ID. Just make sure you have it on you at school, even if it’s just wedged in your phone case.
  • Snacks and food!! – This is also an obvious one, but it’s SOOOO important. Lots of people forget to bring food and then don’t end up eating, which makes for a lot of cranky teenagers at school. I would suggest bringing more snack-type foods than full-on meals because they’re easier to eat whenever you feel like it (in class, standing up, walking during passing periods, etc.). Bring a mix of healthy/junk food snacks and salty/sweet snacks to cover your bases, and bring enough to share if possible! My whole friend group pretty much swaps our snacks based on our moods and what we feel like eating.

I hope this list helped you guys out and gave you an idea of just how much random stuff you need to be carrying around with you in your bag. You’ll figure out what you personally use once the school year starts, but it’s always best to be as prepared as possible starting out. Let me know if you guys have any school related requests or any requests at all! I’ll be back with more exciting content (including my cheer camp coverage!) very soon.

-Brooke

5 Things You Should Do NOW In Preparation for the School Year

Hello everyone!

Today I am going to be giving you guys some tips on a few things you should do before summer ends to prepare for the school year. I know it’s daunting and no one really wants to think about going back to classes and homework yet, but it’s best to start preparing early. A couple of these things may be obvious; just think of this list as your back-to-school checklist.

  • Go back-to-school shopping!! This is one of the more obvious ones I was referring to; make sure you get all of the supplies and new clothes that you need. All the displays are out, so now’s as good a time as any to get out there and start shopping for the best deals. Check out your local mall for back-to-school season sales- if there’s an outlet mall nearby, that’s even better. Also, make sure to look at the summer clothes that will be going out of season; they’re most likely on sale as well, and if you live in a warmer area like me, you can still wear those styles well into fall.
  • Organize / clean your room – It’s super important when you’re working to have a neat space. You’ll definitely have a lot more time now than during the school year to re-organize everything the way you would prefer; make sure to deep clean your room as well by vacuuming, dusting, cleaning mirrors with Windex, etc. Throw away unnecessary papers and such from last school year if you haven’t already, and spruce up your space with some room decor that will make it more home-y if that’s something you’re interested in.
  • Purge your closet – You have to make room for those new back-to-school clothes! Try everything on and donate/sell/throw away (based on the condition the items are in) things that don’t fit you anymore or that you know you won’t wear. If you’re planning on donating, donate to non-profits such as womens’ shelters or your local Boys and Girls Club rather than Goodwill. If you’re planning on selling, use apps like Poshmark that make it easy to ship clothing items out.
  • Check off as many last summer bucket list items as you can – Binge watch that last season of a Netflix show, go to the beach one last time, have a barbecue with your friends, take a weekend road trip to the nearest city or cool town; do whatever it is you wanted to do this summer but haven’t had the chance to already. Make the most of the time you have left- plus, if you’re busy, you won’t have time to worry about school looming in the distance.
  • Catch up on correspondance with friends, extracurricular activities, emails, etc. – Kudos to you if you’ve been doing this throughout the summer on your own already! However, I know in the summertime we’re more likely to lose touch with people and forget these things. Reach out to the friends you never ended up hanging out with this summer, make sure you know when your school activities and sports start up again as well as their corresponding schedules, and respond to any important emails/social media messages. Update your calendar or planner with any important dates (school orientation included!) and add to it as other things come your way. The beginning of the school year is a busy time and your schedule will fill up again very quickly, so make sure you’re aware of your commitments and keeping up with when everything is happening.

Hopefully this list helped you guys out and inspired you to start getting ready for the school year! Remember to enjoy the remnants of your summer vacation and try not to stress too much about what’s to come- stay in the present as much as possible. I will be posting more back-to-school content as we draw closer to the end of summer, so let me know if you have any requests. I also have a few more summer posts coming- I leave Monday for cheer camp at Knott’s Berry Farm with my high school cheer team, and I plan on writing about my experiences there.

-Brooke

Chapman University Yearbook Camp Day 4: Coming Home

Welcome back everyone!

Today I will be finishing up my yearbook camp coverage with a post about the last day of the four-day camp I attended at Chapman University with my school’s yearbook staff. I posted separately about my experiences during the first three days, so definitely go check those out if you haven’t already! The camp was extremely tiring but it was an amazing experience and it really allowed me to bond with the other members (both newbies like me and returners) since I knew no one except for my best friend, a returner, and one of my other best friends, a newbie like me.

Day 4 (Monday, July 22nd) had a school spirit/your school colors theme, so we were all decked out in our school gear. My school’s colors are orange and blue; I wore an orange t-shirt, navy blue shorts, orange and blue beaded necklaces, and the orange and blue cape from superhero day. Breakfast was scheduled for 30 minutes later than all the other days, so my roommate and I had set our alarms for 7:30 rather than 7:00. My roomie and I had packed up most of our stuff the night before, but we finished everything up before heading out to eat. I had waffles and scrambled eggs with a mini cinnamon muffin for breakfast, and then we headed to the common room to meet with all the other staff members. Our EICs showed us the finished theme packet that they had submitted the night before (it was BEAUTIFUL and so vibrant) and explained to us what was about to happen; we were going to go to one of the classrooms and three other schools would be there, the EICs of each school would present their theme packet to a panel of four judges and we would get critiqued.

We headed to the theme packet presentations- I was nervous and I wasn’t even doing anything! The other schools’ ideas were great, we went either second or third and I thought our EICs did a great job at presenting everything. The packet included a cover, a title page, end sheets (the very beginning and end pages), an opening page explaining the theme (aka theme copy), and four (maybe three?) spreads; this amount of work was based on how many staff members we had with us at the camp, so it was more than some other schools had to submit. We ended up getting critiqued very harshly by the judges but it was somewhat expected; they were known for being blunt, and we knew they may not like how much color and vibrancy we wanted to add since they were a fan of the simplistic style our school’s previous books had.

After all of the presentations were finished, it was time for the closing ceremony and awards presentation in Memorial Hall. We all walked over together- it was sad realizing this was our last camp event. The individual awards were presented as well as class awards and theme packet awards; two of our staff members got awards from their class instructors, but we didn’t receive a theme packet award. This was disappointing to the returning members and our adviser since our school had a reputation of getting some sort of theme award each year, but we understood the differences in what we put out and what the judges normally look for. We watched a slideshow put together by the camp workers and photography students of pictures from each day and event at camp; it was crazy to look back on the last few days and realize we were already going home.

The ceremony finished quickly after the slideshow was over and it was time to check out of our dorms and hit the road. My roomie and I said a final farewell to our cute little dorm and brought all our stuff to the common room where everyone else met up. We headed down together and dropped our keys in the dropbox, saying goodbye to Henley Hall. We had carpools set up for the drive home as well; I was in a car with two of our EICs and my friend. We just chatted the whole time about the camp and what was to come in the next year of yearbook. The drive was about two hours and we left at 12:30, so we arrived around 2:30 back at school. I said goodbye to everyone, and my mom was there to take me home. It felt soooo good to be back in my bed- I unintentionally took a nice nap before unpacking, eating, and beginning to catch up on emails and such.

Camp was an amazing bonding experience- our yearbook staff is like a family and I was surprised how quickly we all seemed to fit together. I fell in love with everything about it and I’m glad that I now have something about the upcoming school year to look forward to. I will definitely be posting yearbook updates throughout the year since it is going to be a big part of my life (and big time commitment!) from now on, so I hope you guys are interested. I highly recommend you join the yearbook at your school if it’s something you’ve been wanting to do- even if you have no experience, it’s easy to start learning. I’ll be back with new content soon- I’m leaving for cheer camp on Monday, and I’ll be posting about that at some point as well.

-Brooke

Chapman University Yearbook Camp Day 3: Theme Packet Submission & Lots of Fun

Hello everyone!

Today I am going to be covering my third day at Chapman University’s yearbook camp! I’ve already posted separately about my experiences on the first and second day of the amazing four-day camp, so make sure to go read those first if you haven’t already! The third day (Sunday, July 21st) was definitely a more laid-back day for me as a yearbook-newbie since there were more activities rather than actual class sessions like the previous day, but our editorial staff members were definitely very stressed since they were up late working the night before and had to continue working on our theme packet submission. The submission was due at 8:30pm and all of the schools at camp were also working hard to meet that deadline, so there was definitely tension for the beginning portion of the day.

My roommate and I got up at 7:00 again and headed to breakfast with our other friend around 7:30am. It was neon theme day so I wore a neon yellow t-shirt with black shorts, neon beaded necklaces, glow stick bracelets, and our EIC gave us all matching neon hats. For breakfast they had french toast sticks so I ate those with scrambled eggs and some pineapple. All of our staff met in the common room so we could head to the daily Memorial Hall opening ceremony together; there were more spirit games and announcements per usual. We didn’t win any spirit awards yet again, but it was all in good fun. There was then a challenge where each school had to go around and write different story ideas for the yearbook (unique twists on universal spreads/topics, like a unique way to cover homecoming for example). This finished up around 9:45am and then it was time for our class sessions.

Our class was held in one of the library computer labs, so we were already familiar with the location and knew where to go. The sessions were shorter- it was still broken up into two, but with only 50 minutes for each and a 10 minute break. We got the whole time to use InDesign on the computer and experiment with designs; it came in handy that the returning members had already taught us newbies the basics of the program. During the 10 minute break my friend and I ran to Starbucks again, this time getting caramel iced coffees! We were both exhausted and really needed the caffeine. Once class was over, it was time for lunch. My friend and I ate lunch together; I had salad and pizza yet again. I swung by my dorm room and checked in with her for a little bit. My other friend and I went on a walk again but it was shorter this time- we brought two of our EICs on the walk with us since they REALLY needed the break.

Once lunch was over, it was time for another elective session/lecture- our last class of the camp! My friend and I headed to one called “It’s Not a Title” per our adviser’s request; it was all about writing headlines and subheads. The instructor was nice and had us take notes, before eventually giving us sample articles to practice writing headlines for. The class let out at 2:45 and then we got to head back to the dorms. The camp held indoor games in a common area of Argyros Forum, and our adviser wanted all the non-editors to go participate. We headed there around 4:00 after some time to relax, but it was very uneventful and we ended up leaving around 4:45. All of the editors/everyone else was working on the theme packet in the library computer lab, so we headed there and fooled around on InDesign again. Dinner was at 5:45 so we packed up around 5:30 and headed to the dining hall.

I had chicken and some turkey from the deli bar for dinner with more cookies, of course! We were told to just go back to the dorms and hang out while the editors finished off the theme packet; it was due at 8:30 and they were almost done at that point. I hung out with my roommate (by the way, my roomie is one of my best friends, I’m just referring to her as that to clarify), our other friend, and one of the guys. We sat in the hallway since boys aren’t allowed in girls’ rooms and vice versa just talking about random things, until we noticed that a bunch of boys (and girls!) were having some sort of party in one of the rooms we were sitting next to. We kept joking about joining their party when one of the boys that was in there actually came out and started talking to us- the encounter was funny at first but actually a bit strange, so we all made excuses and went back to our rooms.

By this point, the theme packets had been submitted and our editors were relieved! A neon glow party (to match the day’s theme) was happening at 9:00 and we knew there would be Domino’s pizza, so we headed there. The actual party looked like a middle school dance and was in a very small space so we just grabbed the pizza, ate there, and went back to the dorms. The lights-out time was a half-hour later than normal because of the neon party (12:00 rather than 11:30), but we didn’t have plans to do anything else at first. My roomie and I both showered and got ready for bed, but around 10:00 our other friend texted us saying she was gathering almost all of the girls in her room just to hang out. We went there and just talked for a couple hours- we ended up staying until 12:00, oops! It was a great bonding experience and we shared lots of fun stories. Someone eventually knocked on the door to tell us to keep it down, so all of us except for our friend and her roomie ran into the bathroom so we wouldn’t get in trouble for being out of our rooms. That was our cue to go- my roomie and I basically ran down the hall and sighed of relief when we made it undetected into our room. We went to bed around 12:30 and I slept wonderfully since I was just so tired.

I hope you guys have been enjoying hearing about my experience at yearbook camp! A post detailing the last day (which was more of a half-day) at camp will be up tomorrow. Let me know if you guys have any requests for yearbook content or any other content- lots more is to come! I can’t believe it’s already about to be August, make sure you guys enjoy the remainder of your summer!

-Brooke

Chapman University Yearbook Camp Day 2: Crazy Day of Classes

Welcome back everyone!

Today I am going to be covering everything that happened on my second day of yearbook camp at Chapman University. If you haven’t already read my post discussing the first day of camp, make sure to check that out now! I returned home yesterday, and I can confidently say this camp was one of the best experiences I’ve had and it taught me so much about yearbook. This is my first year being a part of yearbook and my first time doing anything journalism-related, so there’s definitely a learning curve.

The second day of camp (Saturday, July 20th) had a Disney character theme. Each day had a different spirit/dress-up theme, and everyone on our staff dressed accordingly since at the opening session each day there were spirit prizes up for grabs. My roommate and I had set our alarms for 7:00am since breakfast started at 7:15 and we didn’t mind going a little bit later; we woke up and put on our Disney outfits! Our editor-in-chief had come up with the idea to do Snow White and the 7 (13) Dwarfs, so we all had nametags and hats.

Everyone met up at breakfast; I had three small waffles, some scrambled eggs, and a mini blueberry muffin. Everything was pretty good, but I definitely missed my fresh berries I always eat at home. After eating, we met with our teacher/adviser in the common room so we could all head to the opening ceremony at Memorial Hall together. There were some spirit games and announcements- someone lost their wallet, and the workers made them come up on stage and dance in order to get it back. We sadly didn’t win the spirit award, but we didn’t expect to because there were definitely some crazy spirited schools out there.

Our first class of the day began at 9:15am; it was broken up into two hour-long sessions with a 15 minute break in the middle. Throughout the two hours, we worked on our first design layout (on paper, not the computers just yet) and took notes on lots of design and photography terms. The building my class was in happened to be right next to the on-campus Starbucks, so as soon as the break began my friend and I ran there in order to beat the rush. We got caramel macchiatos for a caffeine boost; it was my first time trying one and it was delicious!! We headed back to class for another hour and then got dismissed for lunch.

Lunch was an hour and 45 minutes, so there was no rush to eat. My friend and I sat outside to soak up the sun since the weather was perfect that day. I ate cheese pizza and salad- it was pretty good, the vegetables actually tasted decently fresh. Since we still had so much time, we stopped back at the dorms to freshen up and then decided to go on a walk around campus. We asked my roomie/other friend if she wanted to come but she was more in the mood to relax, so the two of us headed out alone to explore. It was actually extremely nice; we took the long way around and ended up stopping to sit on a bench in the shade and just talk/catch up. We were also very close to our class, so we had no trouble getting there when it was time to finally go.

The class was divided into two sessions with a fifteen minute break again, but this time each session was an extra fifteen minutes longer as well. We edited the spreads we had made on paper with the help of our instructor and learned more about photography. We also touched on writing and wrote some sample captions; the instructor read mine out loud to the class because she liked it, so that was pretty cool! Class let out at 4:15 and then we headed to another theme development session with the rest of our members. Our editorial staff and our adviser were in a computer lab in the library starting to work on spreads for the theme packet (something you submit to the camp regarding your ideas for this year’s book and get judged on) and all of us newbies didn’t have anything to do, so some of the returning members that didn’t have huge responsibilities started teaching us how to use our design program. We use Adobe InDesign, and it’s actually so interesting and fun using it. I still haven’t completely gotten the hang of it, but it’s not too hard to pick up.

Learning to use InDesign was the highlight of my day; it was also fun because one of the returning members was explaining to me and my friend how to use it, and he was extremely funny. The three of us were just chatting and laughing the whole time. About an hour later it was time for dinner, so we all packed up and went to the dining hall as a group. I had pasta and chicken with more of their signature chocolate-chip cookies. Next we had classes again, but this time they were elective sessions (more like lectures) where we had options to choose from, rather than more sessions of our one selected class. My friends and I ended up choosing a class called Looking For the Right Photos that discussed a combination of photography and design; we didn’t learn much, but the instructor was extremely funny. He just talked about what types of photos to put in your spreads and how you should be taking lots of different photos from unique angles to have more options.

We didn’t feel like going to a second elective session since we knew all of our editorial staff and our adviser were working in the computer lab again on the theme packet, so we randomly just chose to go to Yearbook Hacks when our adviser insisted we pick something. The instructor discussed lots of random topics, from staff bonding to refund policies to marketing. It seemed more like a class for advisers, but there were tons of other students there so it wasn’t our mistake or something in attending. Class let out at 8:50 and there was going to be another spirit-related event in Memorial Hall at 9:00, but our adviser had us skip it and head to the library computer lab. All of the newbies (me included) played around with InDesign more while the veterans designed spreads for the theme packet and got actual work done. I felt bad seeing them all stressed out while there was no way for us to contribute.

The lab closed at 9:30 so we all walked back to the dorm together. The returning members that were still working on the theme packet (mainly the three EICs and a couple other designers) stayed in the common area with our adviser while everyone else had nothing to do but relax and get ready for bed. I hung out with some of the other newbies and then returned to my room to watch some YouTube videos and shower. My roomie was one of the designers working on spreads so she came in around 11:30 and quickly showered and got ready for bed as well. We talked again for a while and just discussed how fun (but crazy!) camp had been so far- we were basically zombies at this point- and finally went to bed around 12:00 (I fell asleep straight away!).

I hope you enjoyed hearing about more of my experiences at camp, and I highly encourage you to check out my post about the first day there if you haven’t! I will be posting about the third and fourth day at camp very soon, so make sure to look out for that too. It was such an amazing experience and completely opened my eyes to how much work actually goes into making a yearbook- if you guys are interested in me making more yearbook-related content as the year goes on, please let me know!

-Brooke