Volcan Mountain Foundation

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San Diego County, California

Kids With Cameras

The Volcan Mountain Foundation’s Kids With Cameras program started in 2011 as the brainchild of VMF Board Member, Jeff Holt.  It grew out of VMF’s earlier Keeping It Wild project, which brought together adult photographers for the purpose of capturing the majesty and natural beauty of Volcan Mountain, the stunning backdrop to the historic town of Julian, California.  Prints from the Keeping it Wild project were later sold as part of a fundraiser to provide seed money for the Kids With Cameras program.

© 2011 Ethan Elisara

Kids With Cameras (KWC) is a collaborative venture between the Volcan Mountain Foundation (VMF), and the Julian Elementary/Junior High School Garden program with key support provided by Tricia Elisara through Julian Pathways, and many talented adult photographers.  The primary goal of KWC is to get students to focus on nature through a camera lens, and produce young photographers who are sensitive to nature.

© 2011 Catherine Skibinski

The popular after school enrichment program for 6th-8th grade students has been incredibly well-received, and currently serves Julian Junior High and Spencer Valley School in Wynola, with a waiting list for students for future sessions.  Professional and high-level amateur photographers volunteer their time to instruct students on the technical use of the camera, and the art of composing a photograph.  In spring and fall, five 2-hour sessions provide a group of 10 students with step-by-step in-class photographic instruction.  Class visits to visually interesting sites, such as the local pioneer cemetery, Camp Stevens’ organic garden, and Wynola Flats produce stand have provided valuable field experience as well captivating images.  The final class culminates in an afternoon photo safari to Volcan Mountain, where students are inspired to capture and preserve the beauty of this extraordinary natural treasure.

© 2012 Jeff Holt

An artists’ reception and display of the students’ images at the local library, caps off each of the sessions, and provides the students with an opportunity to discuss what they have discovered about art and nature and to experience others appreciating what they have created.  The receptions are an exciting time for these young artists and are well-attended by area residents who have been delighted and amazed by the quality of the works produced.

© 2013 Jeff Holt

The first fall session in 2011 culminated in four of the participants having their outstanding photographs selected for inclusion in the 2012 Annual Youth Exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.  The KWC program and first group of students were subsequently honored by the Volcan Mountain Foundation with a showcase of their work at VMF’s 2012 Spring Dinner Dance fundraising event.  In 2013, in response to the increasing success of the KWC program, The Gallo Fund of the United Community Methodist Church of Julian provided grant funds to purchase ten new cameras to improve the quality of instruction by standardizing the equipment used by the students and further the enrichment of local youth.

© 2012 Jeff Holt

The outcome of this program is to produce environmentally sensitive students and skilled photographers who appreciate the necessity of documenting nature and in preserving natural resources for future generations.

Header Photograph © 2011 Jeff Holt