On October 10th, eight 9th grade students and five adult leaders embarked on an educational expedition and cultural exchange, all while learning about digital photography. Photo Treks is a five-day place-based expedition that combines digital photography and exploration with youth mentoring. It is offered to 8th grade students in the second year of their six-year Trekkers experience.
This year’s Photo Treks students examined Social Justice through the lens of a camera, while experiencing a variety of cultures within Maine. As a whole, the goal of this program is to cultivate a new appreciation for photography, as well as broaden students’ knowledge of cultural diversity, and create a deeper respect for cultures outside of their own community.
Program Manager and trip leader Emily Carver stated, “This year we tried to focus on opening students’ eyes to the issues, communities and movements going on right here in Maine. I am positive that their perspective on their home state, and all the good work being done here, has shifted after experiencing first-hand so many new things.”
Students spent one night tenting in Bremen and three nights at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro, while making daily excursions to Lewiston, Augusta and Portland. While in Lewiston, students participated in a cultural exchange with Tree Street Arts, an organization committed to uniting diverse youth through programs rooted in academics, art and athletics. In Augusta, the group toured the Bread of Life Ministries Soup Kitchen and visited Amish Mennonite Paul Knolt to learn about his culture. Day three of the expedition included a visit to the Nagaloka Buddist Center in Portland, a spiritual community based on the ideals of compassion, generosity, mindfulness, and the cultivation of wisdom.
Throughout their journey, students captured the essence of the experience through digital photography. Professional photographer Keri Wehrs of Maine Media Workshops in Rockport instructed the students on camera orientation and digital photography techniques during the trip. The last day of the expedition was spent at Maine Media Workshops, where under Keri’s guidance, the students critiqued the photos they had taken and selected their best pieces to be professionally formatted and printed. The students will be showcasing and selling their artwork in a local exhibit at the Jonathan Frost Gallery, 21 Winter Street in Rockland after the start of the new year.