When Camryn Garrett of Bay Shore slips her Time For Kids press pass around her neck, the 14-year-old eighth-grader suddenly feels older and more accomplished.
That helps calm the jitters when she interviews celebrities such as Kristen Bell at a press junket for the Disney movie "Frozen" in Manhattan, or when she's in a crowd with competing, grown-up journalists on the same assignment for their publications.
"That sometimes gets a bit overwhelming," Garrett says. "Other reporters more seasoned than I am, who went to school for it, trained for it. Being there among all those people is kind of scary."
All that comes with the territory when you're one of Time for Kids' 10 Kid reporters selected nationwide each year. Garrett and the others write for the Time for Kids website, the student print-edition newsmagazine for grades K to 6, and the at-home tablet edition for families.
"It gives us that kids' perspective we're always trying to capture for our audience," says Elizabeth Winchester, a Time for Kids contributing editor. "Camryn is wonderful. She's very motivated. She's very organized. Sometimes, I could almost forget I'm working with a child."
ON THE SCENE
One Sunday in February, Garrett arrives at Barclays Center in Brooklyn to write a piece about the Brooklyn Nets Kids dance team that performs at weekend home basketball games in front of more than 17,000 fans.
"I've never been this close before to the court," Garrett says as she sits courtside to watch a rehearsal.
A dozen dancers run through two routines -- six boys, six girls ages 8 to 13 -- dressed in hip-hop-style uniforms that include black-and-white sleeveless hoodies, shorts and sparkly sneakers. As they perform, Garrett adds these questions to the list she prepared in advance: "Do you ever confuse the dances?" "Do the lights or noise from the crowd distract you?"
Before the game starts, Garrett interviews three dancers, Serena Quadrato, 9, and Frankie Signorelli, 10, both of Staten Island, and Tymell Hubbard, 10, of Wyandanch.
Garrett's favorite assignment so far was a movie junket at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan where journalists interviewed stars. "There were so many people there. While that was nerve-racking, it was also cool that I was there with them."
Other assignments have included Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows and a story about A BroaderWay, Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs' program for girls.
Garrett usually tapes her interviews and takes notes. When she's done writing, she sends her stories to Winchester. "She sends it back to me. She'll say something sounds awkward, so she'll rewrite a certain sentence."
Garrett, who attends Bay Shore Middle School, says she hopes to continue with journalism but isn't 100 percent sure. "My aspirations change day-to-day," she says. "Yesterday, I saw a movie commercial I liked, and I decided I wanted to be a screenwriter."
Garrett applied to Time for Kids by submitting writing samples and a video. The position doesn't involve pay, but there are benefits, says Garrett's mom, Arlene, who is a maternity nurse. "I think it's a great experience. I knew that it would also boost her self-esteem."
Either dad Brian, who sells beauty supply products, or mom accompanies Garrett on each assignment. Garrett also has a younger sister, Jayden, 12.
"It's the coolest thing," Garrett says of seeing her pieces published. "I like to Google myself. Now, I have articles I can look at and show to people."