Each year, the Live Deliberately Essay Contest invites youth around the world, ages 14-18, to consider a selected Henry David Thoreau quotation and accompanying prompt. Contestants are asked to write a thoughtful essay that uses personal experience and observation to demonstrate how that year’s quotation and prompt relate to their own lives and to the world around them. Like Thoreau, these young people use the power of their words to convey vivid stories, personal conviction and human compassion. The essay contest is typically open from mid-November to mid-February and the winners are announced in late April.
The contest has two age groups: 14-16 and 17-18. One winner will be identified in each age group and will receive a $500 cash prize, plus an annotated edition of Walden, autographed by the book’s editor, Jeffrey S. Cramer, our Curator of Collections at The Walden Woods Project’s Library. Essays may also be selected to receive Honorable Mention in each age group, which will be awarded with an autographed annotated edition of Walden. 19-year-olds who are seniors in high school or the equivalent through homeschool or other program at the closing date of the contest are also eligible (college students are ineligible).