Now open at Stirlings Gallery, Sewanee – Camp Discover is a two-week summer program for Grundy County children, and based at Tracy City Elementary School. The program is designed to foster resilience by helping children and families feel connected to each other, their community , and the world. With an emphasis on exploring, sharing and celebrating the community’s stories and heritage, children also participate in literacy-based activities such as read-alouds, song-writing, photography, and journaling.
Healthy social structures rely on communication and shared narratives, which in turn depend on literacy. In other words, literacy, and all related processes, foster resilient communities. There is ample evidence that photography can be used as a therapeutic and educational tool, and when considered in the broadest understanding of literacy, can build community and resilience. More specifically, the combination of visual thinking and literacy, and discussion and writing around and about photographs, establishes positive modes of social and expressive behavior. When introduced and sustained over time, these modes not only become habitual, but have a tendency, just because of the intrinsic, fascinating relationship between photography and story-telling, to have a ripple effect that invites others into the conversation.
During the first year of Camp Discover in 2012, children were introduced to the idea of telling stories through photographs. A generous donation of funds, from the Spunk Fund Inc., allowed us to develop and expand this theme in 2013 and now, 2014. During this third year, Camp Discover staff, and volunteers from Saint Andrews-Sewanee School were guided by Bea Troxel (Environmental Studies in Arts and Humanities major, Sewanee c 2015), to further integrate storytelling with photography across the two-week Camp Discover program . Children engaged in projects designed to use photography as a way of learning and speaking about one’s immediate community, and to foster a sense of place in the broader community.
With slide shows, the group looked at example photographs, and discovered why photography is magical: photographs can freeze time; pictures can help us tell stories; pictures can help us remember; pictures can help us share stories. Children were introduced to fundamental photographic and visual practices. They reflected, sometimes by writing, on how shapes can look like things, how photographs can describe experiences, and how textures can make us feel. Together all of these help tell our stories, and stories help us remember. They give us something to share.
The program is part of an ongoing collaboration involving Scholastic, Yale Child Study Center, the University of the South, Tracy City Elementary School , and other local organizations. In addition to Camp Discover, a family cooperative program helps build and strengthen supportive connections within the community . Windy Lopez, director of community affairs at Scholastic, added, “Seeing the proud and confident smiles on the faces of the children and families is what this is ultimately about.”
The project was directed by Tracy City Elementary School teachers Jan Roberts and Sherry Guyear, and could not have come about without the assistance of many other program staff, families and institutions ~ we thank you all! Most of all, the project wishes to thank the Children of Camp Discover, 2014 ~ your stories and sense of wonder inspire us all!
Pradip Malde, Linda Mayes and Karen Yu – Sewanee, TN. February, 2015.
Upcoming: March 10-12, Visiting Artist, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts
October 21-24, 2014, co-presenter on a Collaborative Workshop in Photograph Conservation: platinum and palladium photographs, sponsored by The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History
January, 2015: My work, and that from my collaboration with Mike Ware resulting in a contemporary formulation for platinum-palladium printing featured in The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, 3rd Edition, by Christopher James. Inclusion aside, this update promises to be an even more indispensable of a reference than the 2nd edition.