As a rule, each company playing in the Games chooses their charity to support. While I tend to recognize each one, when Startup Games: Austin 2016 rookie OwnLocal chose to support Austin Bat Cave, I had no idea who they were. But, I was excited to find out their mission is to develop writing skills in kids and teenagers. I’ve been writing ever since a kid, and love hearing about others fostering that passion in the next generation. So, I jumped at the chance to learn more.
The opportunity arose this summer with their camp workshops where they focused on a specific realm of writing; subjects like, Magical Realism, Professional, and Post-Apocalyptic. I picked the Podcast Writing workshop to visit. I like podcasts, and I’m totally one of those people that have said, “I bet I could do a podcast.”
I stopped by the workshop on a Wednesday in the middle of the week-long camp where a volunteer promptly introduced me to what all they were doing and what had already been done. The instructors were a trio of volunteers with a background in writing, podcasting, and audio, and along with Program Director, Ali, seemed like the perfect team.
The “campers” were high schoolers, a small group (smaller than most of the other workshops) but very engaged. With an endless list of subjects for podcast topics, it turns out they opted to discuss the current and critical subject of mental health. I was immediately impressed. It was certainly something I thought little about at their age.
The workshop mission was to cover each aspect of developing a podcast from outlines to interview questions to editing to producing. I was fortunate enough to visit in time for an interview with a willing friend of Ali’s. The high schoolers had prepared questions centered on her profession and then broached mental health without fear.
It was fascinating to watch as the adults in the room (including myself) squirmed as the teenage interviewer asked personal (but subject appropriate) questions until she got the answer she wanted. The whole group was actively interested in learning more on this considerably sensitive topic. Using all of their newly acquired skills, I’m sure they produced an informative, interesting podcast.
I had a great time checking out the workshop, and look forward to participating more, possibly even as a volunteer. With 10 summer and 35 school-year programs, serving over 1200 kids, there are definitely plenty of opportunities. Austin Bat Caves seems to have a great mission and wonderful crew of volunteers.