Adventure in Perspective

On January 23rd, 2018, 13 5th grade students from Imago Dei Middle School embarked on an adventure into the Santa Catalina Mountains. This was the 3rd of 5 expeditions planned with Imago Dei this semester, making these students seasoned outdoor adventurers. On this expedition, we planned to explore passage #11 on the Arizona Trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Partnered with Beads of Courage and Parks in Focus, students were excited to capture their adventure using photography, both to gain creative perspective and to share their adventure with children who were unable to get outside themselves. This adventure was one of service, creativity, and as always, adventurous learning.

Our hike began under clear blue skies and with a warming bright sun. Late January finally brought the much needed cold weather, making us move like desert tortoises. For the kids, it did not take long before they were generating their own heat from running and jumping around. Our hiked dropped into an arroyo, allowing us to explore the rugged landscape with ease. It was here that we made our first circle to discuss photography and the lessons of the day.

First, we talked about camera safety, and how to properly handle this equipment outdoors. Secondly, we discussed what perspective is, and the different ways to observe perspectives. Using the cameras, students were instructed to select an object and take at least three pictures of each object from different perspectives. It was harder than usual to contain these students, who now followed distant visual clues to desert objects. The students also focused on getting pictures of themselves in beautiful places while displaying their beads. They wanted kids who could not explore these places themselves, to know that Imago Dei students were thinking of them as they adventured. The Imago students were very happy to dedicate pictures and energy to showing others the beauty of these landscapes.

We hiked a steep trail that winded around high desert landscapes, demanding sweat, heavy breathing, and energy before access would be granted to the saddle. Once atop, we were gifted spectacular views, fast blowing winds, and a sense of freedom not often felt for these students. When passion and desire burn through the eyes of a child asking to explore the natural world, answering “no” is not an option. So away the students went, hiking through tall yellow grasses on a steep saddle toward tall mountainous peaks.

We hiked back together, but not without more play and exploration. The return trip always provides a new perspective, confusing some, exciting all. Soon we were at the vehicles after hiking 26 total miles and our day was at an end. The youth had a full day dedicated to artistic, personal, and service exploration, truly a wonderful day outside.