Picturing a Healthier Future

After more than a year of virtual outreach and engagement, the Udall Foundation’s Parks in Focus® program recently resumed its in-person programming to get youth back outside and exploring their national parks and public lands through photography.

Since 1999, the program has put cameras in the hands of thousands of Arizona youth and led them on fun and educational adventures in settings ranging from schoolyards and city park systems to iconic national parks and landscapes.

For Parks in Focus, cameras serve as a tool to get students moving and exploring. It encourages participants to observe, document, and learn about the natural and cultural resources of the places they visit. It also serves as an outlet for youth to discover their creativity and to share stories about their lives and their outdoor experiences.

Whether you are visiting a national park or exploring your backyard, photography is a great way to get your family moving and enjoying the outdoors together. Here are some fun photography ideas and activities from the Parks in Focus® team for you and your family to try this summer:

  1. Photo Walk: Plan a photography walk with your family. As you walk, have your family members take turns calling photo “stops” along the way. During each stop, have everyone take a minute or two to find and photograph something that they find interesting. Share what you find (and your photos) with your family.
  2. Themed Hikes: Come up with a theme for your next family hike. For example, go on either a wildflower or an insect-themed hike where you look for and photograph all the wildflowers or insects you find. You can also use colors (e.g., find and photograph things that are orange), textures (e.g., things that are smooth), words or phrases (e.g., things that spark joy) to inspire your themed photo hikes.
  3. Perspective Aerobics: One way we can make our photos more interesting is by changing our perspective, or the point of view from which we view and photograph our subjects. On your next outing, take photos from a bug’s eye view (e.g., get down on the ground), from a bird’s eye view (e.g., stretch your arms and camera up high), or from a coyote’s point of view (e.g., from a squatting position). Take photos from as many unique perspectives as you can – this will get everyone moving!
  4. Photo Scavenger Hunts: Create a scavenger hunt listing plants, animals, resources, or features you might find while visiting a particular park. Challenge your family to see how many of those subjects they can find and photograph during your visit?
  5. Postcards: When you get back from your trip, pick out your favorite photos and turn them into personalized postcards that you send to friends and family.

Western National Parks Association is the official nonprofit partner of the Parks in Focus program and helps make this vital program available to Tucson youth and families.

Guest Contributor Bret Muter, Deputy Director of Education Programs, Udall Foundation