Monday, August 14, 2017

nErDcampMI by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

While the Grog was on vacation, I've had a really packed summer. Out of four big trips I took, the first was nErDcampMI.

I don’t know about you, but as a writer, I keep a “bucket list” of conferences I’d like to attend some day. I made the bucket list a few years ago because I realized I wanted to do so many conferences but I couldn’t afford to do them all right away both financially and in time away from work and family.

I put Highlights Foundation on my Vision Board next to my computer. Within a few months, I’d made enough money on freelance work to pay for a workshop. Nerdcamp Michigan (also known as nErDcampMI) was also on the list. I knew it would be packed with book-loving authors, librarians, and teachers just like me who loved readers and books as much as I do.

For those of you who don’t know what nErDcampMI is, it’s an ED camp that has become a conference that draws people from all over the US and Canada to a little town in Michigan where Colby Sharp, teacher and book lover extraordinaire (and one of the Nerdy Book Club blog founders), gives teachers, librarians, and authors a place to mingle and share. And did I mention it’s FREE?

We Need Diverse Books panel moderated by Tracey Baptiste

Day 1 involves panels, NerdTalks (a 7 minute long “Ted Talk”), and dozens and dozens of conference-style sessions to attend. 
Mr. Schu talks to R.J. Palacio before her "NerdTalk."

Sarah Albee and Jess Keating talk about writing nonfiction

Day 2 is ED campstyle. The attendees propose sessions and we take off to different rooms to have conversations about different topics of interest to us. It's more of an impromptu session.

The amazing authors also stay the evening after the conference to do a nErDcamp Jr. which hosts 1,000 kids for FREE! They get to hear authors speak, get free books, and learn to be nerdy just like the rest of us.

I attended sessions on diverse books, how to host an author visit, nonfiction writing tips for kids, a Mr. Schu interview with R.J. Palacio and a mini-book talk and giveaway. On the ED camp day, I attended sessions by Jack Gantos about writing instruction, tough topics in middle grade, and doing your own Sibert Smackdown. I left with a to-do list of things to try for next year.

Jack Gantos talking about his many journals

One of the best parts of nErDcampMI is meeting author, teacher, and librarian friends I’ve known on Twitter in real life.  The internet has made our networking so much easier, but nothing beats the energy you get when you put a bunch of people together in real life who love, love, love books and have the desire to share that love with kids.  

If you are like me, and live far away from Michigan, the cool thing is that nErDcamps are popping up all over the country. 

Do you have a bucket list of conferences? What's on your list?


  1. Marcie, great rundown on what nErDcampMI is! I plan to be there with you next summer! TY.

  2. sounds cool, Marcie. Thanks for sharing your impressions and the links.

  3. Wow, this sounds wonderful, Marcie. Adding it to my list!!

  4. I was there, did a workshop on poetry, and hooked up with writer, Karuna Riazi and will be introducing her novel, The Gauntlet at Beverly Hills Academy in Michigan where I am writer-in-residence this fall. Nerdcamp is a great gathering and free!

  5. NerdCamp IS on my bucket list, Marcie, and several of my writer friends have added it to theirs, too! In the spring, I also have the Texas Library Association conference in mind.