This post was written by Heather Chiles, an Engagement and Marketing Strategy staff member at the National Geographic Society.
Photography can be a personal and profound way to explore your community and help your students tell their own stories. In an effort to inspire and empower the next generation, the National Geographic Society is proud to support Photo Camp––an outreach program that introduces young people around the world to the power of photography and storytelling.
Each National Geographic Photo Camp is an immersive experience where students receive instruction and guidance from world-class National Geographic Explorers and photographers, build skills and confidence, explore the world around them, and develop deep connections with each other. The goal of the program is to inspire the next generation of storytellers, and support them in sharing their experiences and perspectives.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Photo Camp. To date, more than 3,000 young people have participated in over 145 in-person and virtual Photo Camps in 36 countries.
To celebrate, we’re showcasing some of our Photo Camp alumni that continued to follow their passions of storytelling and are making an impact.
Young Explorer Ahmed Badr
Ahmed participated attended a virtual Photo Camp in 2020 and, shortly after, he became a National Geographic Young Explorer. He wrote the book While the Earth Sleeps We Travel to tell the stories of refugee youth around the world. Ahmed’s work combines poetry, archival material, and multimedia to explore the complexities of migration, identity, and self-expression, with a focus on reframing and reclaiming the power of tragedy.
Young Explorer Markus Martinez
Markus is a Photo Camp alumnus who, in 2020, also received a National Geographic Young Explorer grant. He has returned as a team leader and staff at several Photo Camps to support with peer mentorship. This year, he was one of the National Geographic instructors and coordinated a Photo Camp in Juchitán, Mexico.
His current work with Indigenous Sustainable Development (INDIS) involves a participatory storytelling project to empower youth from the Mokox Indigenous Nation of Lomerio, Bolivia, to protect their forest home. Through visual storytelling, youth can reconnect with their cultural and natural environment and, in doing so, help conserve them.
Young Explorer Te Aho Jordan
Te Aho participated in the Photo Camp Tōku Mauri series in New Zealand as both a student in 2019 and as a team leader earlier this year. They are a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Aotearoa Youth Leader.
Jordan acknowledges diverse stories in marginalized communities through the amplification of Indigenous voices in their visual storytelling. Jordan’s contributions to youth development have been acknowledged by the Y25 Collective, a network of young women and non-binary people leading change in their communities on a local, national, and international level.
A changemaker is somebody who acts on the desire to break everything apart and build something new from the pieces. I believe that we must challenge and question everything because generating change requires us to stop doing things how they’ve also been done. It means to venture into unfamiliar territory with the lessons of our ancestors to guide us and hope for our descendants to drive us throughTe Aho Jordan
MORE TO EXPLORE: RESOURCES FOR YOUR CLASSROOM
As we reflect on the past 20 years, photography has changed considerably since the first Photo Camp. Technological advances have allowed photographers to create clear photos from all over the world, from the night sky and stars shining light years away all the way down to the depths of the Mariana Trench.
Now, you can motivate and inspire your students to tell their own stories. Ready to get started? Learn how to create digital content using photography, videography, audio, and graphic design with the Storytelling for Impact Collection – a set of free, instructional video tutorials designed for students and educators.
Then, explore more with this collection of powerful photo essays from the 2020 Virtual Photo Camp that showcase the importance of resilience, hope, and determination for storytelling.
Don’t forget to stay connected online! The Photo Camp Instagram regularly features the work of Photo Camp students and alumni. We can’t wait to see what stories you and your students tell next.