Photo Treks 2010

For the Photo Treks 2010 5-day expedition, twelve students and six leaders traveled to the Grand Lakes Stream region of Downeast Maine.  The students learned photography shooting techniques, participated in a cultural exchange with the Passamaquoddy tribe and processed their photographs at Maine Media Workshops.

Thu Oct 07, 2010 Day 1

Hi all!  Lis here reporting the Photo Treks 2010 trip log.  I could not have had a better expedition for my first full-fledged Trekkers trip experience as the new AmeriCorps Volunteer!  The friends, laughs, landscapes and, of course, the photos were all phenomenal.

Our journey began mid-afternoon on October 7 as we boarded Daisy for Downeast Maine, gear and cameras in tow.  During the 4-hour bus ride, twelve students and six leaders sang songs, played games and cheered Daisy on as she rumbled up and over hills.  Several students and leaders took naps in Daisy’s filled-to-the-brim sleeping bag bin.  I hear it’s the most comfortable spot on the bus.  An hour from Greenland Point Center in Princeton, our fearless bus driver, Meredith Lynt, made a pit-stop for Subway sandwiches.  After dinner we rolled into Greenland Point Center at 9pm, briefly met in the lodge and sleepily called it a night.


Fri Oct 08, 2010 Day 2

After sleeping in our wonderfully heated cabins, we awoke promptly at 8am and in the morning sunlight, were able to fully absorb the beauty of Greenland Point.  A summer camp facility, Greenland Point Center features a mix of serene woods, hiking trails and playing fields and quietly rests at the edge of Long Lake.  Speaking of Long Lake, trip leader Annie could not resist a refreshing plunge into the cold water Friday morning.  Nothing says, “Good morning!” like a dip in a Maine lake in October.  Several students followed her lead, their shocked faces making great photo-ops for cheering on-lookers.

After the swim we gathered around the fire-pit as professional photographer and teacher, Matt Smolinsky, introduced a few photography terms and concepts (light and composition, “spiking” the camera, macro vs. infinity, etc.).  Prepped with this knew knowledge, we learned our new assignment: shoot our self-portrait and portraits of our peers.  We set to work.

In the afternoon we re-boarded Daisy to visit the Passamaquoddy Cultural Museum in Indian Township.  Donald Soctomah, museum founder and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Passamaquoddy tribe, was awaiting our arrival.  Although small, the museum featured many Passamaquoddy artifacts – some arrowheads were thousands of years old.  There were also many portraits of Passamaquoddy elders, hand-made paddles and staffs and many colorful woven baskets.

After we explored the museum, Passamaquoddy educator Wayne Newell began a presentation that included the history of the Passamaquoddy, the tribe’s challenges and his hopes for today’s young people.  He recounted many of the hardships the Passamaquoddy have faced – from losing almost all their land to fighting for the preservation of their native language amid the internet-age.  Along with his tribe’s challenges, Wayne’s ability to forgive and his respect for young people impacted the students and leaders the most.

Back at Greenland Point, dinner consisted of delicious spaghetti.  After dinner we played some games then turned in for the night.

Sat Oct 09, 2010 Day 3

Much like Friday morning, a few brave leaders and students kicked-off Saturday with a morning splash in the frigid lake.  After breakfast and a warm shower, we split into groups of three for more portrait shooting time.

We then gathered in the lodge for the first of many Survivor Day challenges.  We divided into two teams, Team Moose and Team Potato, a name inspired by Aroostook County native and fellow trip leader, Mike McNutt.  The challenges required a blend of skills from teamwork and communication (think clay-tionary and human knot) to athetics (think relay race).  All in all, it was hilariously fun.  I never remembered the wheel-barrow being that difficult!

I also should mention that by this time, the Photo Trekkers and leaders had befriended Greenland Point owner’s dog, Susy.  At thirteen years old, Susy was both sweet and social and definitely enjoyed all the treats of peanut butter and potato chips.

Once the Suvivor Day challenges ended, Meredith initiated 30-minute solos for each student and leader.  We spread out along the edge of the lake with our cameras and reflected on the trip.  This quiet time alone definitely helped me to be present and tune into my surroundings and experience.  A highlight for the Photo Trekkers, the solo invigorated many of them.  It’s not often anyone spends that amount of time in solitude without distraction.

After a dinner of Potatoes-Deal-with-It (a rumored gift from Mike from the County) we settled down to watch the Passamaquoddy documentary, N’tolonapemk: Our Relatives’ Place, narrated by Wayne and featuring a short appearance by Donald!  Post-screening, we went to bed.

Sun Oct 10, 2010 Day 4

Rising earlier than usual, the Photo Trekkers cleaned their bunks, grabbed some breakfast and rode back to the Midcoast.  We arrived at Camden Hills State Park around noon, set up our tents and rode Daisy to Maine Media Workshops.  Matt walked us through using the computers in the digital lab, and we began the process of reviewing and critiquing our photos, refinishing them and selecting a final three for the exhibition.  It was so great to have the opportunity to see everyone’s best shots, share suggestions and receive some feedback in a professional art campus setting!

We had Trekkers pizza for dinner at Maine Media then headed back to Camden Hills.  Our final night of the expedition, we toasted marshmellows, ate s’mores and shared our favorite moments from the trip.  We also shared tips for sleeping warmly in mid-thirty degree temperatures!

Mon Oct 11, 2010 Day 5

Waking up to a warm fire at our campsite, we ate some breakfast (I never knew oatmeal could be so delicious) and revisited Maine Media Workshops to make final adjustments to our photos and write our artist statements.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we went outside for some inspiration for our artist statements.  The one downside to this weather was the presence of hungry bees during lunch.  Somehow one managed to get fluff stuck to its wings!

Matt surprised us after lunch with a slideshow on the digital lab projector that showcased each of our three photographs for the exhibition.  Again, it was the highlight of the trip to see what incredible work the Photo Trekkers did in four short days of shooting.  After viewing the slideshow we were more pumped for our exhibit at the Farnsworth Art Museum than ever.

Our final ride was back to Thomaston Grammar School, the same place where the trip began.  Exhausted, we arrived mid-afternoon to a crowd of eager parents.

Well, that sums up the Photo Treks trip, but be sure to stay tuned!  While our expedition is over, our Photo Treks journey still continues.  Come see our digital exhibit at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland!

This is Mere here! I want to give a huge SHOUT OUT to Mark, Sierra, Katie, Paige, Brandon, Lilly, Audrey E., Audrey M., Lexi, Matthew, Sam, and Marisa for leaving “it” all behind, trusting me and the other leaders, going with the flow and for truly embracing each and every moment. I am so happy to know each of you and I look forward to knowing you for a long, long time. You guys rock, thank you.

I want to give another SHOUT OUT to Lis, Annie, Frey Frey, McNutt-Potato-Boy, and Matt for taking time out of your very busy lives to create an experience that these 12 students will never forget. Ya done great.

Last, but certainly not least, to parents…a huge SHOUT OUT for filling out a ton of paperwork, driving students to meetings, packing their bags, and most importantly…trusting me. There aren’t too many pictures here because my camera batteries died (I gave all my spare batteries to students so that they could continue shooting!), but in a way I think this is a good thing…it will only guarantee that you will be blown away when you see the exhibit! Thank you!

With so much love,

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