Reflections on Nat Geo Photo Camp: Shenandoah Students from Baltimore’s Refugee Youth Project Learn to Tell Their Story Through Photography

Editor’s note: The following was written by NGP Associate Producer Amber Seyler, who recently attended National Geographic’s Photo Camp in Shenandoah National Park. I first learned about National Geographic’s Photo Camp when I was compiling footage for a year-end impact video for the Society. I began asking around and discovered that a Photo Camp was going to take place with youth from Baltimore in Shenandoah National Park and would involve Nat Geo photographers John Stanmeyer and Amy Toensing. Little did I know that this simple footage search would turn into one of the most profound experiences of my life.

National Geographic partners with VisionWorkshops‘ Kirsten Elstner to help run the Photo Camp program. Kirsten alone was an inspiration. Since the program’s inception, the goal has been to bring the power of photography to young people in populations whose stories were dramatically underrepresented in the media and arts, and to give them the skills to have ownership of their own stories.

Nat Geo partners with VisionWorkshops

Photo by Ronan Donovan/National Geographic

Baltimore’s Refugee Youth Project helped identify 18 young refugees to participate in Photo Camp Shenandoah. The students came from 10 different countries and ranged in age from 14 to 19 years old. Some were very new to the United States, some had been here for years, but they all had a story.