Whitesburg KY
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How I spent my vacation

Points East


I took vacation last week and left Garrard County only for a few hours Saturday morning to run some errands in Richmond.

I spent less money than I normally spend on gasoline and lunch during a work week and I’d bet that I had more fun and a better time overall than most people will have on their jaunts to nameyour favorite beach or Smoky Mountain plastic park.

I spent one day setting up a photography studio and planning the instruction that I was scheduled to deliver to a dozen 4-H kids over a three-day photography camp arranged by the Garrard County Extension Service where Loretta works. I spent another day following up on that wonderful experience by pulling prints the kids had shot and just generally gloating over some 1,500 images they captured over the three days.

Then I did some slow-paced gardening, finished up yet another P.D. James murder mystery, and got out to play with the camera by myself. Actually, I still have one day left. My intentions are to stop at a bait store for a couple dozen nightcrawlers and sit beside a fishing hole on most of Monday before I get back to the grind on Tuesday.

I believe that all adults, especially those of you who will never have another birthday with 50 in it, should spend some intense time with representatives of the 9- to 14-year-old set. Especially if said representatives already have good manners and are in the dying-tolearn new-tricks mode. Every time I do this, I wind up learning far more than I teach and I go away with the warm fuzzies and some confidence that most of the kids I encounter these days are far more concerned about leaving this earth in better shape than we were at that age.

I only wish that more of us old folks would join ranks with them instead of continuing to make a mess of the environment that they are so dead set on cleaning up. Adults are supposed to set good examples.

More and more I see kids setting the agenda that adults should be following instead of the other way around.

Find a way to get involved in scouting or 4-H or some other organization for youth that is focused on a combination of education and community service and you will see just what I mean.

Anyway at the beginning of the photography camp we promised the 12 adolescents who had signed up (three boys and nine girls) that if they listened up and stayed focused (no pun intended) they would wind up with at least one photograph each that would be good enough to enter in the county fair and that we fully expected some of them to win blue ribbons and qualify for the state fair.

Two of our participants last year won blue ribbons at the stat fair and most of them had at least one blue ribbon at the Garrard County Fair. And for the 4-H crowd, this is a huge, huge deal. Blue ribbons come about only after learning, practice, concentration, hard work and then turning out top quality exhibits.

Both years that I have helped run this camp, Mrs. Hildreth Patterson has allowed us to bring the participants out to her farm where horses, sheep, goats, chickens and sundry other fowl and four-legged creatures hang out and are basically as tame as most house cats. The rules are simple. If it runs from you, don’t chase it. If it acts like it’s gonna butt you, get through the fence gate. Fast. If it acts like it’s gonna flog you, it will if you don’t get out of its face. If it stares you down, flaps its wings and crows, run. Fast.

Don’t pick any green fruit off the apple, peach, pear and cherry trees and don’t try eating any you find on the ground. If you open a gate close it before you take another step. That’s it. Have fun.

Several of the group this year had never been up close and personal with farm animals. If I had $1 for each shot of sheep that was taken on the farm day, I could easily afford to spend a week in Europe when I use the rest of my vacation time.

As it happened I more or less played Pied Piper for several hours. Every kid who wanted to do so, had what I call, “20 minutes with Grandpa” where they first find a subject and then I spend some time helping them compose some photos of it and let them use my Nikon to shoot it. In every case, while I gave one-on-one instruction, at least half a dozen others were standing a few feet back soaking up the lesson. Then they’d take off and try to apply it to a subject of their own choosing and with their own cameras.

I could prattle on about this for several pages but let me suggest that you visit the Garrard County Fair the last week of June this year and head straight for the 4-H exhibits. You will see a lot of other mighty fine stuff but you will see some photography that any pro would envy, shot by the 9- to 14-year-old set.

I’m oh so glad that I don’t have to judge it.


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