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Review for Camp Horizon Inc, Decatur, GA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I have been a part of the Camp Horizon family for 14 years. When I first started with camp I knew I wanted to work with kids but was very nervous that I would not know how to interact or have anything in common with these kids. After the first couple days I realized there is not much difference between these kids and other children except the unfortunate background they grew up in & the consequences they now have to endure due to their parents decisions.

I think I have had a bit of a different experience than most of the volunteers at camp. From the start I was a staff volunteer, the one assigned & one of the very few allowed to take photos of the children. Due to the background of the children & the fact they were in State custody most of our children are not allowed to have their photos taken. This includes school photos, year book photos, & even just photos of them having fun at camp. When I first started with camp the only pictures I was allowed to take to publish & promote Camp Horizon were images that did not show any of the children's faces. Any image that I took of a child with their beautiful face showing could only go to that child directly no counselor, staff or any other adult was aloud to have them. Being a professional photographer I know when most people look at a photograph they want to be able to connect with the person in the image by seeing their eyes, their smile, & their emotion. When all you can see is the back of someones head it is that much harder to make a connection. For many year I was one of the lucky few able to see the beauty, love & joy in the eyes & expressions of these amazing children everyday they were at camp. It is a blessing every volunteer of Camp Horizon wants to share but can really only due by stories.

Through out the 14 years I have been with camp many of the children that I got to know when they were 8,9 & 10 are now in there 20's. A few of our kids have been adopted in that time as well & today the images you see on the Camp Horizon web site are of children who have been adopted & are allowed to have there image shown or they have aged out of the state system at 18 & gave us permission to use their images to promote a camp that has meant so much to them over the years. But there are still so many that remain in the shadows.

When I first started photographing the kids of Camp Horizon it never dawned on me how important these images actually were. As I said I have gotten to see a lot of our kids grow from an innocent child to graduating from high school, going on to collage, military service, marriage & even starting families of their own. By the grace of God I have been blessed to be a part of & photograph some of those milestone moments in these, now, young adult's lives. But it wasn't until I had one of the girls who grew up in the Camp Horizon family tell me what those early photos taken at camp meant to her that I really understood how something that seemed so small could be so important.

Most of us have photos taken of us from the time we are born, throughout our childhood, & at every important event in our lives. Usually so many photos are taken of us we take it for granted. That former camper told me as I photographed her maternity photos before the birth of her beautiful daughter, that the photos taken of her at camp were the only photos she had of herself growing up as a child. These would be the only photos she had to share with her daughter as she grew up. I have never felt more blessed than at that very moment, that God gave me this talent of capturing beautiful moments in the lives of others. The blessing of being a part of Camp Horizon & the lives of these special children and the chance to capture their laughter, friendships, first experiences, accomplishments & important milestones in their childhood I no longer take lightly. Camp Horizon is a place that brings the joys of childhood back to every child & adult that is a part of it.
Karen Burns - Karen Burns Photography

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Role:  Volunteer