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Digital photography gets kids close to nature

Popular Focus on Nature program is back for March Break

A walk in nature with a camera at the ready is like nature enhanced.

Enhancing the fun, enjoyment and adventure a child can have in the outdoors, is part of the impetus behind Focus on Nature’s March Break Camp for Young Photographers. It’s happening this week in the Taylor Nature Centre at the University of Guelph Arboretum.

The annual March Break event is broken into two camps, one happening Monday and Tuesday, another on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday there’s an advanced workshop for those who want to get a bit more technical. The two-day workshops are booked solid, but there’s room on Friday.  

On Monday morning about 20 campers learned some digital photography skills before heading out in the great outdoors to take some shots. The cold weather was a drain on camera batteries, but Simon Bell, executive director of Focus on Nature, said the kids got some great shots before heading back inside to warm up and enjoy some lunch.

“Children at this age, when they are 8- to 12-years-old, they’re really exploring their world,” said Bell. “We want them to have a good understanding of the world, but also to get up off the couch and outside exploring more.”

Technology is limiting our interest and engagement with nature, he said. 

“There is a disconnect from nature, and it’s called nature deficit disorder,” he said. “The idea behind Focus on Nature is to actually use technology as the vehicle to hook a child’s interest in nature exploration.”

Digital cameras, he added, are used as the modern version of the magnifying glass. 

“They’re learning skills as well, like how to focus the eye, how to slow down and observe, and how to be an artist,” Bell said.  

Focus on Nature also brings focus to the great pictures the kids take, by putting them in exhibitions.  A show featuring 60 of the best pictures taken in 2016 opens next Monday, March 20, at eMERGE Guelph in the Old Quebec Street Shoppes, 55 Wyndham Street. The pictures are always beautiful and technically accomplished.