Civil War Days At Gordon Hall

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This weekend, many people (and families!) attended Civil War Days at Dexter’s Gordon Hall. Check out the images below to get a feel for what all the hullabaloo was about. There was an artillery firing demonstration, military and civilian camps, and many displays and presentations by artisans. An old time wet plate photography booth was up and running too, many people enjoyed seeing the processing and tin type prints being made.

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Youth with a Purpose

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I believe it’s important to give back to those in our community; to share the talents I have been given. I really do believe that everyone deserves to have their memories captured, and that senior portraits are a big part of creating a legacy. Senior portraits aren’t just a sign that you’re done with high school; they have become a personality statement. For many families, these senior portraits remain on display until replaced by wedding portraits.

When Brandon and Charlae (co-directors of the Youth with a Purpose mentorship program) contacted me, I felt that it would just be right to give these youths (and their families) a gift of portraiture. Betsy’s Photography will be donating senior portrait packages to the initial group of YWP seniors (in graduating classes 2010 through 2014).

YWP news article: Mentors help youths find purpose

AnnArbor.com took interest in this affair, and in late January, published an article about Youth With a Purpose. Brandon told the reporter:

One parent was so overcome with joy that she began to cry […] She said that Betsy’s donation was truly a gift from God.

I’m truly honored to be able to make a difference for these youths and their families. In my life, I have been blessed in countless ways; it only makes sense to give back.

One of the highlights, so far, has been meeting the wonderful individuals involved in the mentorship program. Last night Steven and I met some of the youth! Brandon and Charlae introduced us to three of the YWP students (Left to Right: Brandon, Michael, Bailey, Steven, Betsy, Charlae, O'Dell)

Youth with a Purpose (Left to Right: Brandon, Michael, Bailey, Steven, Betsy, Charlae, O'Dell)

A little more about Youth with a Purpose, as quoted on AnnArbor.com:

Baugh and Charlae Davis founded Youth With a Purpose, a nonprofit organization of the Labor of Love Church in Ypsilanti, almost four years ago while they were working at the Comprehensive Studies Program at the University of Michigan. After gathering approximately 20 middle-school students for the program, Baugh and Davis began mentoring the students and providing help with school work. Baugh said the program has grown to include approximately 30 members.

“When our program began three years ago, many were in difficult situations at home, their academic performance was very low and many were in trouble with the law,” said Baugh. “I’m happy to say all of these issues have been resolved; it’s like they are completely different people now.”

Photography Class at Emerson Middle School

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This afternoon I got to share my love of photography with a class of middle school students! It’s been a while now, but a long time ago 😉 I actually was a student at Emerson School here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s a cute little school that has a great musical and fine arts “program” (can I call it that?). At any rate, Emerson School has a great focus on the arts, and one of my former teachers, Mrs. Borton, recently asked me if I would consider guest teaching for the photography class.

Now, I may be a photographer, but I also love to teach and share my knowledge with others. So, I jumped at the chance to spend a day with a great group of photography students. After sharing some of my work with them as “creative inspiration,” I sent the class out into the hall to complete some assignments in creative imaging (well, at Emerson it’s a more expansive common area).

Emerson Photography Students | Betsy Finn, Betsy's Photography

Emerson Photography Students | Betsy Finn, Betsy's Photography

It’s interesting to see how much photography classes have changed since digital cameras became widespread. While some of the “good old” film experiences are no longer there, going digital allows the students more creativity and quicker feedback. Now, since you’ll probably be asking if I participated in the assignments myself… the answer is “kinda.” Instead of working on all the tasks I gave for the hands-on exercise, I spent some time watching the students and seeing the creative solutions they came up with.

Emerson Photography Class | Betsy Finn, Betsy's Photography

Things to Do This Summer!

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School is out for the summer (or will be soon) — and in case you’re thinking, “now what?” — we’ve got some ideas that will help keep boredom at bay.  Need activity suggestions? We’ve got resources. Want to find something to do as a family? yup, there’s ideas for that. Looking for an online educational game? Check.

We’ve even listed some outdoor activity sites (state parks, trails, and more), as well as some local resources if you’re in the Ann Arbor area. Yes, that includes Dexter, Chelsea, Manchester, Saline, Ypsilanti, and even a little something for Tecumseh. So go on, take a look — and prepare to have a blast this summer!

First of all, why not stop by Homeschool.com to find out 101 Things to do this Summer. Don’t worry, most of them don’t involve “school” — there are things like “Make an Obstacle Course in Your Backyard” (#32), “Have a Picnic” (#2), and even, “Become a Photographer” (#7). What a great resource! If you get through all 101 things, be sure to let me know!

Child Portrait at Mill Creek Park Playground

Activity Ideas

If you are still having trouble finding things to do or looking for something the whole family can enjoy together? Check out these resources that have activities and ideas for having fun!

  • About.com’s Summer Arts & Crafts for Kids. Make big bubbles, Find a recipe for playdoh, and get inspired with more ideas on how to use those art supplies you have around the house!
  • FamilyFun.com has ideas for you! Arts + Crafts, parties, recipes, games, and more! You can even search the site by age group, or by your child’s interest (e.g. princesses, barnyard pals).
  • Kaboose has summer craft ideas, outdoor games and activities, recipes, and more — visit their Summer Guide to get started.
  • DIY has some neat craft ideas, so if you’re stuck indoors or need a quick activity, this might be a good rescue activity!

Online Fun

While I was looking for these resources, I also found some websites that are interactive, educational AND fun.

  • PestWorld for Kids is all about pests, what they are, how to avoid them, and even games and e-cards.
  • Black Holes: Gravity’s Relentless Pull lets you journey to a black hole, and see the night sky in different ways. You’ll learn about the different objects in our universe, and whether they are visible with x-rays, visible light, and/or radio waves.
  • Mouth Power is an interactive site about taking care of your teeth. You’re bound to learn a few things as you complete activities to “earn your teeth.”

Outdoor Fun

Of course, there is always the option of spending time outdoors. While these sites will require you to spend some time indoors (mostly planning), the main focus is to get outside and to experience the world around you.

  • Michigan State Parks — with around 40 state parks, Michigan has plenty of opportunities for you and the family to enjoy yourselves outdoors. Use their “Find a Michigan State Park” feature to search by county, campground type, or activity (e.g. biking, fishing, picnic, wildlife). Also, consider the Explorer Program, where you’ll be able to learn about forests, insects, night hikes, animals, and more.
  • Trails.com is a resource that will let you search trails and trail maps in Michigan — depending on the type of outdoor recreation that you’re interested in. Whether it’s hiking, biking, or fishing, you’ll be able to find some great trails!
  • Beyond Your Doorstep with Peter Schriemer is a great site — your kids will learn stuff about backyard critters and animals, be able to play games, color — and with your help, complete some outdoor activities that will increase their understanding of the wildlife around your home.

Local Resources

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