While researching travel writing workshops for my post last week, I came across ACE Camps.
ACE Camps features a variety of educational workshops, a couple of which were specific to travel writing, so naturally I included them in my post.
I was also very intrigued by their overall concept for workshops — life enrichment-style courses that combine education with creativity enhancement — and impressed when I read this quote from their website:
Our retreats, workshops and journeys are filled with adventures, education and fantastic opportunities to spend time with interesting and likeminded people. Some of our leaders will teach informally with a hands on – in the field – approach and some will have structured lectures or impromptu demonstrations.
I promptly fired off an email to founder Angela Ritchie and asked her to answer a few more questions.
Without further ado, on to the good stuff!
Q. Tell me a little more about ACE Camps – it’s a unique concept in the world of workshops.
It’s all about spending time with inspirational people and honing in on creativity to learn or further develop a skill. It’s about staying on a ranch, in a castle or sleeping in a tent, eating fresh locally grown food, sharing a glass of wine, taking a yoga class and exploring with the leaders.
I think learning about travel writing while traveling opens up channels of observation or learning how to paint nature in the woods makes sense.
I’m trying to select workshop leaders that participants would like to get to know better, learn from and spend time with – sometimes it’s not only the skill they teach but their enthusiasm for adventure that motivates the students.
The groups are small usually only 10 people. The workshops, or Ace Camps as I call them, are all about adventure, culture and education – thus the name ACE.
Q. How did you get started doing this?
I spent two summers here in Whistler, BC, Canada organizing a program with The Whistler Arts Council called Whistler Art Workshops on the lake, and found by observing some of the classes and talking with the attendees that they got so much more out of the classes than simply learning the art.
They got away for a few days from their everyday life, spent time in a rustic cabin with like-minded people and created friendships. They came away inspired. I have traveled a fair bit and wanted to take the idea of learning a skill and combine it with getting people out there exploring and traveling.
Q. How do you come up with the locations for your workshops?
I ask the workshop leaders where they would like to go and then we discuss and narrow down where the best location would be. Rolf Potts will be in Paris so we discussed a few options and came up with Reykjavik, Iceland. Lisa Congdon, an artist in San Francisco, thought it would be great to go to Oregon and spend some time in the woods on a ranch, Amanda Jones and I were first thinking about Morocco and later thought it a better idea to stay closer to home and head to the sun in Todos Santos, Baja.
Q. How do ACE Camps differ from other workshops and conferences?
The workshops are also vacations and involve the adventure of going somewhere different where one can immerse themselves in a new culture and learn. They are basically learning vacations with a talented leader you would want to hang out with. I include other opportunities for the participants like surf lessons, shopping trips, gallery visits, tours and free days to explore.
One never knows what opportunities may arise when traveling, and if it’s interesting then we’ll go – like in the Baja last October with artist Sabrina Ward Harrison we were all invited to a birthday dinner at a local Mexican farm house. If it sounds fun we’re heading there. The costs for the camps are as reasonable as I can make them and each includes accommodation, all meals and the workshop – with some other extras depending on the workshop itinerary. It’s really amazing how quickly people get to know each other when spending time together traveling.
Q. What can a travel writer expect to come away with by attending Rolf’s or Amanda’s workshops?
Writers who study with Rolf will come away with new energy and heightened perspective on their travel writing, regardless of their prior experience. Using his extensive experience and unique perspective on the genre, Rolf will help students focus and structure their travel stories in ways that will enhance their writing for years to come. We will also hang out in Reykjavik, Iceland and how cool is that!
The workshop with Amanda will bring confidence and knowledge to go forth into the tumultuous world of travel publishing and write stories that sell. The participants will know how to work with editors, what to expect of publications and the true and refined art of being able to edit their own work.
We can guarantee that they will also be taking better photos to illustrate those stories. And beyond that, they’ll also have had a darn fun and enriching week at the beach and exploring in Todos Santos, Mexico.
So there you go – if you’re ready to enjoy an adventure, enhance your skills and creativity, and possibly change your life, you may want to consider signing up for an ACE Camp.
My sincere thanks to Angela for answering our questions – it’s easy to see why she calls this her “dream job”!
Have you attended a workshop that changed your life? Share your experience!