Camp Asia

April 2022: I recently spent 2 fabulous weeks giving Story Planning Workshops for Camp Asia Hong Kong. My optional final challenge was for the participants to complete writing up their stories from their Story Plans. I was delighted to see that three hard-working participants took up the challenge – and the results were fantastic! What I was especially delighted to see was lots of attention to the setting and to the characters, including their personalities and special attributes. This is exactly what I’m looking for in stories, and I was glad to see that all the time we spent in the Story Planning course on settings and characters has really paid off!

Well done girls! I hope this is just the first step in a stellar lifelong writing career! And for those who missed joining me in my Camp Asia Story Planning Course this year, I hope to see you next year!

You can read the girls’ fabulous stories below. But before you do, just a heads-up! You might find some of the characters in these stories rather unusual! That’s because I picked them out of a hat for our courageous story-planners, who then HAD to use them in planning their stories! I thought this would add to the fun – read the stories and YOU be the judge :)!

From Yate Chee Lau, Holy Angels Canossian School, Hong Kong, Grade 5, 10 years old

The Rabbit, the Flood and the Pencil Case

If you look carefully into the past, you can find a story about a rabbit, a pencil case and a terribly frightening flood. Fear not- The flood has long since calmed itself down, but if there is one happening near you right now, you should probably drop this book and run for your life. Before you start reading, find a flood-free place to settle down first. You can even grab a snack if you want! 

Everything was fine at first. The weather was great and so were the people. There was a bright sun beaming on the streets, giving everyone the energy they needed to start the morning. Along the footpath were the many shapes of passing people, chattering away about all sorts of confusing business. Tall trees stood proudly on the side of the pavement, as if they were shielding the citizens from danger.

However, they could not shield the true grave danger that was yet to come…

Now, on the side of the walkway was a little stall, and in the little stall was a rather little rabbit. She had a fluffy white coat of fur and she wore a pastel red dress. On the side of her head, was a tiny red flower. She was very good at gardening, which made her perfect for the job.

Soon, a rather familiar face came hopping down the road. It was the pencil case, and Rabbit saw them everyday now. They were yellow with a blue zipper and a white stripe that ran along their body. They liked flowers so much that they came to the stall everyday. Rabbit didn’t mind though – after all, why disturb a customer’s character? They went on with their everyday lives, nothing was out of the ordinary. 

However, that wouldn’t last.

There is a phrase known as “Nothing to sneeze at”, meaning that something shouldn’t be ignored, in fact, it deserves immediate attention. A raging fire is nothing to sneeze at. A terrible car crash is nothing to sneeze at. A criminal break-in is also nothing to sneeze at. So is a flash flood, which was exactly what the townspeople were met with.

With no warning of the sudden disaster, things quickly took a turn. Rabbit was selling flowers, then came a sudden drizzle that turned into a sprinkle, which quickly moved on to a downpour and at last, one of the most terrible floods the town had ever witnessed. Rabbit was swept farther and farther from her stall, and the fact that she couldn’t swim did not help one bit. To make matters worse, the pencil case had no idea about the flood because they lived far away. Rabbit grabbed onto all sorts of floating objects – lamps, cars, chairs, tables… anything to keep her above water. Rain clouded her vision as thunder echoed in her ears, the cool sensation of rainwater surrounding her body.

If the rain wasn’t enough, the sea was only adding insult to injury, adding raging waves into the mix. Rabbit was thrashed around, which caused an intense headache, with enhancing obstacles making the situation worse. Just then, a huge wave headed into Rabbit’s direction, threatening to come down at any moment. 

A rather uncommon phrase that you may not know about is “Deus ex machina”, Latin for “The god of the machine”. It means the arrival of something helpful when you least expect it. That’s exactly what happened when a sudden force pulled Rabbit out of harm’s way.

Breathless from her fight to survive earlier, words could not describe Rabbits’ gratitude for not needing to thrash around in the waves anymore. Turning around, Rabbit saw the rescuer, and a familiar face. One that she saw everyday… It was pencil case! They had heard of the news and had come as quickly as possible. 

The danger wasn’t over yet. They still had to alert the rescue team about their presence! After a little swimming, they found a brief clearing in between all the commotion. Although it was just a lone shelf floating about, it was just what the duo needed to catch their breath. However, with the water level rising rapidly, there was no time to stay. 

In school, you may have been taught what to do in different natural disasters, which are hiding under the table in an earthquake, staying low to the ground in a fire and staying up high in a tsunami. But something you should do in all emergencies is alerting the rescue team about your presence so you can be treated. To do this, either create a fire to emit light or bang on a nearby object to emit sound. Rabbit immediately knew they would have to settle for sound because with the current weather conditions, the light they made would barely last a second. Hitting metal would make an echo, causing more noise, which was exactly what they needed. A lamp passed by and Rabbit tried to grab it, but the pencil case stopped her because it was an electronic. Then a metal pot sailed by, perfect for the job! Using all the strength they had left, the pair began banging on the pot, desperate for aidence.

Thankfully, the pair’s efforts were not wasted, because the racket that they made caught the rescue team’s attention. After 30 minutes, they were taken to shelter to avoid the raging weather.

 There is a phrase known as “All storms pass”, which means all bad situations, no matter how dire, will end, which is great for this situation. The rabbit caught up with her gardening, and soon she was back to selling flowers. The pencil case was doing its best with its greed, and did so by coming less and less to the stall and not coming everyday. The flood did end, and everyone’s storms passed, just like this story has.

From Christy Ka Nam So, Stamford American School Hong Kong, Grade 6, 11 years old

Unexpected Foolish and Fast Heroes

Who would’ve thought a foolish owl and a speedy frog would save an entire city? Well, nobody really thought about that, but everything started to change just because of an owl named Frolly Steward, who is currently sitting beside his window frame. Plus, a frog named Swifty Abbot, a well dressed frogentleman with a black and white tuxedo who is being squeezed by numerous fans and reporters.

It is a balmy sunny day, nothing special, just a warm fizzy breeze swarming around City Animales. There are various types of animals in their different habitats, it is like a habitat paradise, the desert right next to the savannah, the savannah next to the grasslands, it is all connected and it makes a city island, where animals live their best lives.

Frolly takes a deep sigh, he feels so useless and frustrated, “Why can’t I be like the other owls, wise and independent. I will never be like them!” Thinking Frolly, to calm down himself, he goes on a walk with his ridiculous orange and blue polka dots swimsuit and his winter boots. On the other side of the bustling streets, Swifty is tired of being forced to be perfect, he is never allowed to do the things he wants, and whenever he accidentally makes a mistake, he gets scolded by it.

For a split second, the sunny and bright day darkens, water drops start to pour, and the cool breeze thickens. The tiny water drops expand into bigger water droplets, then thick water beads start pouring down, and it becomes heavy rain. The air was filled with the scent of mud, there were puddles everywhere! The streets are roaring with screams, “Typhoon! Runnn!! It’s the biggest one we have ever seen!”. Frolly was speechless, he didn’t know what to do or what was happening, he was just standing still, like he was possessed. Meanwhile, Swifty is struggling to run through the pack of fans, “I’m sick of all this, now I can’t even run to find back home for shelter!” thought Swifty. 

On the next day, the clouds cleared out whatsoever, blue skies here and there, everything was back to normal so speedily. “Bring me the plates! Wash the dishes! Clean the toilet, it’s not that hard! I’m busy! What’s wrong with you get out of my house!” That’s what Frolly has to hear everyday at home, sometimes he even wonders how his parents, (Mr. and Mrs. Steward) never got their voice cracked. His parents thought that Frolly was useless; they always say “Since you are useless, start being productive instead of trying to accomplish a dream you would never achieve!”  

Swifty was born different, and animals love him because of it, especially frogs and slow paced animals since they are pretty slow. Swifty is the cities’ most speedy frog, he can’t control how fast he goes. “Today your schedule is busy, you have 7 interviews with no breaks, oh and you have to …” “Bla blah blah, yes yes, when will I ever have a vacation out of busy schedules and forceful parents?” Thinks Swifty. Swifty was always told to stay busy and popular, but that’s not even what he wants, in the future Swifty wants to just be a normal frog, so he doesn’t have to worry about anything. Whenever Swifty tells Mr. and Mrs. Abbot (his parents) about how stressed he is, his parents would tell him that he is an ungrateful little mistake. 

At night, after Frolly and Swifty’s parents both got to sleep, both are sneaking out their window and are currently walking in the park. “Oops! Sorry let me help you pick your bag up” said Swifty “Wow, look at how this owl is dressed, he seems so free and happy, without having anything to worry about!”

“Oh yeah, no problem-I mean thank you.” Frolly replied “Look! He must be the popular frog! I wish I was popular.”  Frolly and Swifty complemented each other and became friends. “Hey, you know, people call me foolish, but I think the weather yesterday was even more foolish than me! How weird and foolish for the skies to decide that a huge typhoon should happen so suddenly!” Frolly brought up. “Yeah, I didn’t even notice the typhoon happened so quickly, in fact it stopped the very next day!” Added Swifty. Frolly then told Swifty, that yesterday morning he saw a lion stealing all the weather books, and was heading to a secretly hidden tunnel on the side of the road when Frolly was told to read books from the library to hopefully be more wise. “Wait wait, don’t you think that’s so weird, for a lion to steal weather books and then hide in some kind of base before the typhoon happened later in the evening?” Commented Swifty, “I think we should check what’s going on in that tunnel because I think that lion was the one who caused this disaster!” 

And so they went, without anything except Frolly’s fanny pack filled with random everyday objects. After tunnel after tunnel, they arrive at a grand space that looks like an old abandoned library, with dusty unreadable books all around the area. There are molds on the cracked walls and old, dusty wooden shelves that are so tall and bent that it actually might fall. The room is filled with a funny book smell that tickles around your nostrils and as soon as Frolly and Swifty enters the room, it was almost like they could taste the rotten food that is also swarming around the grand space. Suddenly, both Frolly and Swifty hear footsteps, so as quickly as possible, both animals hide behind the bookshelves with their hands clasped and their breath held. 

A shadow of a figure is expanding, then, a lion wearing a fine tuxedo with a science lab coat appeared and turned on a switch, that then lit up a huge mechanical and complex machine with weather symbols marked on the machine. A large screen is suddenly projected in thin air, and a female cheetah appears on the projected screen. “Dementia Crane! Why does it take so long for you to just delete the positive weathers on my machine! If you don’t get rid of them, I will never-I mean, WE will never rule the city and destroy these happy little animals! They are all so happy and they never give any emotion to the negative things! Remember? When I was small, everyone was so focused on the positive things, they ignored the things I had suffered and they never helped me!” Roared the lion. Then Dementia commented, “Chill down Mr. Theodore Lovelace, I’ll get it done by tomorrow.” 

“I want it NOW” Mr. Lovelace demands, and then he walks away with a large growl. The projecting screen shuts down and so both Frolly and Swifty head up to the machine and begin to examine the machinery. “This must be the reason the typhoon occurred! We have to break this to save the city and stop him!” Said Swifty. “City? What city? Oh you mean this country? Wait, this place is a city?” Questioned Frolly.  The lights starts to flicker and then there was an entire blackout.

The lights are turned on again and both Frolly and Swifty are tied up on the waist on a chair faced back to back. Then, Mr.Lovelace appears from the shadows. “How did you find us?” Asked Swifty. “You really don’t think that you were loud when you were talking?” Mr. Lovelace shows the friends a remote, “This is a remote to activate the electronic on the ropes, so if you do anything stupid, I wouldn’t mind to shock you a bit.” After a few minutes of silence, Mr. Lovelace leaves for some sleep. “Hey, I know it’s not the time to tell you weird stuff but this one is really weird, so today at the library, I read a book about survival, there was this chapter about escaping and untying a rope, and it says that if you dance with your ropes on, the more chance you have to escape. I mean how weird and stupid is that?” Explains Frolly in a quiet voice. Then Swifty whispers back instantly, “Wait, we could use this to escape! Hey Frolly, don’t you have a scissor you showed me earlier at the park? We could dance and after the rope loosens, we could use the scissors to cut the rope open easily and escape!”

After having a hard time staying quiet while untying the ropes, Swifty holds out his hands, “Hold on to me okay? Since I’m speedy and fast, I’m pretty sure I can carry you to the machine and we’ll find a way to destroy it.” After arriving at the podium where the machine is, Swifty asks “Hey, do you happen to have a lighter?”

“Of course! Why wouldn’t I? I even have my cooking pan and my paintbrush! Anyway, here it is.” Frolly answers. Mr. Lovelace is sleeping soundly when he smells smoke, he quickly runs to the podium to see what’s happening. 

“Hey! Oh no no no my machine! Get back here you little monsters!” Yells Mr. Lovelace. “No! YOU’RE the monster!” Frolly yells back. As the machine is turning into ashes, Mr. Lovelace is so frustrated and angry that his fangs were revealed and his entire body was shaking. Mr. Lovelace leaps out and chases the friends. “Come on! I’ll carry you!” Calls Swifty. Room after room, the exit was already blocked by the fire, the only route that is safe is the rooftop. The friends end up on the tippity corner of the roof. The lion slows down and corners the friends, “Now what are you gonna do? You can’t just jump off you know?” Says Mr. Lovelace proudly. 

“Hey, I also brought a parachute!” Whispers Frolly. “Ha ha, jokes on you, I have an amazing friend who is special and smart in his own unique way! That’s why, we CAN jump off a roof!” Yells Swifty. And off they go, their landing is also safe. 


From this experience Swifty learned that he should be grateful for his abilities and to stand up for what he truly wants, and Frolly learned to not be afraid to show off his uniqueness.

Wondering what happened to Theodore Lovelace? Well he recovered from the hospital and was arrested and isolated from City Animales. Dementia was tracked down and also arrested and isolated. From that day on, the Steward parents and the Abbot parents never got any attention, they lost their jobs and now they even live in a hut, they would argue all day long! What happened to the friends? Frolly and Swifty became heroes and best friends, they enjoyed their fancy lives and they are waiting for their next mystery. Nobody ever complained about Frolly being stupid or Swifty being ungrateful.

From Riya Anand, Stamford American School, Hong Kong, Grade 6, 11 years old

Animal trials 

“Today was when the world changed, when my life could have ended, and it all began with a Spanish speaking cat named Claudia sitting on the front porch and a dire warning!”

A cat named Claudia sat on the porch staring lazily at the lawn, but she was not an ordinary cat because she spoke Spanish. 

It was a windy blustery day. Claudia sat at the foot of the very big house which was blue and white, she had sleek white fur, soft blue eyes, scary fangs and claws, and strong legs. There were leaves strewn everywhere! It was autumn, so the leaves were red, orange and yellow. And the trees were bare!

A whiff of chicken and veggies from the on coming dinner, wafted outside and settled gently on her tongue. 

Voices issued from inside the house. At that moment a small car drove past Claudia. It carried a snail. Which wore glasses and a cool jacket. “Sal de mi césped!” Shouted Claudia in Spanish which she always did when she was annoyed (it means get off my lawn), she had heard of the snail and his name was Alfred and he was a genius. 

“Mam, there is 99% chance that an explosion may come any second, destroying everything, including your cat food” yelled Alfred

That got Claudia going, she loved her food and she hated anything that could happen to it. She was not fully convinced that what the snail said would happen, but she needed to get her food to safety. 

“Now before we go on, bear with me dear reader. And let me tell you something about Claudia and Alfred.”

Let us begin with Claudia. She has strong legs, and is also a fast runner. Let me tell you how. When she was just a kitten she was stolen from her owners when she was prowling in the garden trying to catch a butterfly. Someone took her, and she didn’t know who it was. But she scratched and clawed the culprit until she struck the person in the eye. And as the culprit yowled in pain and clutched their bleeding eye, she bolted back the lawn fence and she jumped over it. And she found her owners calling frantically for her, and as she walked towards them, they saw her and looks of relief found her owners faces. 

From then on she was alert and fierce and loved to run, she also had a good nose and scary eyesight. She promised herself that such a thing will not happen again. She always has a stare that makes people cower and runaway. 

And she hates when people touch her cat food, but she was a tad bit haughty. 

“Now that I have told you about Claudia,  let’s discuss Alfred.”

Alfred was a peculiar snail but he was a genius. He has a black shell and also wears a cool black jacket. He has alert eyes and wears dark sunglasses. He cries or gets angry when someone rips paper with writing on it. He is very protective of his notes and will bite anyone who comes close to them, this is partly because of an incident that took place when Alfred was young. He was so smart, even as a small snail, but because he was smart, his big brother got jealous, tore his notes and threw them in a fire and so they burnt. He is very good at finding things, for when his notes were burnt, he hunted for all the ash and made a grave. And mourned it most dearly. 

“So now you know a few things about Claudia and Alfred, let us continue with the story.”

Claudia stashed all her cat food including her secret supply in a freshly dug hole that she had made. She was going back inside the house to get dinner, since she did not believe the ridiculous snail. But just as she was going to leap over the front steps the house exploded. In a mixture of yellow and red flashes. Screams were heard from inside the house as the owners came tumbling out of the falling house. They grabbed Claudia, who was frozen with shock and horror and ran to the gate, almost trampling the poor Alfred who was trying to get as far away from the house as possible which sadly for him was only 20 inches. 

Claudia was horrified! She turned to look at her owners who were bleeding madly and they too had expressions of frozen horror. Then a small crowd gathered around and saw the house, now ash and stone. But before anyone could say anything several more explosions broke out, followed by the sounds of shrieks and screams. People ran to help and console while Claudia sat down and listened as the sounds of sirens and ambulances came.

Claudia was lost in her thoughts, once where she could smell the whiff and taste food now she could now only smell and taste ash. It took a moment for her to realise Alfred was talking to her, that broke her away from the stream of thoughts cascading through her head. She forced herself back to reality. Alfred too was panicked but was determined not to show it. He was talking about a plan to stop this. Claudia soon caught on but was confused. Alfred wanted to save the world, when he was only a tiny snail and she was a small cat?! 

But the more he talked, the more everything made sense, he talked about finding a home that was left undamaged and clean, since the person behind all this would be safe. They set off through town immediately, occasionally with a BOOM sound out of nowhere. All they heard was the breeze that whistled by, the crinkle of leaves as they walked, the rustle of trees as they swayed along with the wind, and their cold breath. 

They knew that all around them there were people with deaths and injuries. Everywhere was crowded, for nobody wanted to be in their houses in case they blew up. The air was thick with smoke but they neared the edge of the town and they heard many distant explosions that did not seem to be coming only from their town. When these explosions happened they would not talk for a while, but as they walked Claudia and Alfred got to know each other well. And were on the way to becoming friends. At the edge of town lay a forest, which they fought through. They soon found a hut in the heart of the forest. 

They opened the door, for it was unlocked though it was stuck, so they had to push and kick until the door gave away and creaked open. They found themselves in a dusty room, which they searched, just when they were about to give up and Claudia leaned on a wall filled with exhaustion and defeat, the wall opened to reveal…. A big creepy room! Stone walls engulfed the hidden room and on it hanging sharp blades and knives. Skulls and jars lined the shelves and in front of all the shelves there was a small desk and on it sat many many computers and devices. They were about to establish that this was not the house they were looking for when something on one of the computers caught Alfred’s attention. 

A big picture of Earth! And the Earth was shown with many houses and some of them looked as though they had been  burnt and destroyed. And all the houses had numbers on them! Next to the computer sat a timer which had just struck zero and they heard a distant explosion. The timer had just restarted itself for 4 minutes. And Alfred saw that a house on the Earth had just been destroyed! 

That erased all doubts from Claudia and Alfred’s minds. This was the house of the culprit behind the explosions. Laughter tore the tense silence and when Claudia turned, she saw a figure in the corner, hidden in the shadows. The figure stepped into the light and Claudia felt red hot anger enclose her tiny body. The culprit was Mr. Fininus a neighbour and friend of Claudia’s owner’s who always treated her like filth. Mr. Fininus hated the people of the town and the town itself. He had much better plans for it once everyone had fled or died and would make the town his own and then he would do the same to the rest of the world. Then all the world would be under his total command! Before Claudia could pounce Mr. Fininus had closed his hands around her neck.

She clawed him till his hat fell off, he always wore a hat and it covered his eyes. Claudia gasped in spite of her being throttled, one of his eyes was clawed and bandaged! He was also the person who had stolen her all those years ago. He tied Claudia to the desk’s leg and put a struggling and biting Alfred in a cage. He grabbed his devices and fled after typing something on a small computer. He chuckled to himself on his way out.

Claudia looked at the small computer and shrieked, it was a bomb!! The room was timed to blow! Claudia sank to the floor in despair when something hit her head. She looked down at it and understood! Alfred had just thrown her a nail! She picked it up with her mouth and got free! 

Claudia pushed Alfred’s cage to the ground where it burst open! She picked up Alfred by her mouth and fled as the timer was almost to an end. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0…. BOOM!!! They heard an explosion behind them, but they were out of the forest.

They heard crazed laughter in front of them and saw the back of Mr.Fininus! 

He was heading for town! They followed him into the alleyway in which he lay down for a nap. They ran to the police station and scratched the police until they followed. They led them to Mr.Fininus and Alfred used a computer to explain since he can write, the police immediately arrested Mr.Fininus. 

And Alfred and Claudia both got medals of honour. Everyone who survived were healed and they were built new houses by the government, even better than the last. Claudia’s owners adopted Alfred! They lived happily ever after, for now..

‘So dear reader, Claudia and Alfred saved many humans from death and possibly near extinction and to think this all started with a warning and an explosion! But do not mistake me and think their ordeals and adventures are over, for this was only the beginning… And I should know because I was the Spanish speaking cat named Claudia.’ 

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