On being thankful…for all the “backpackers”


Recently, we participated in two local Christmas Parades. First the City of Charleston, and then the Mt. Pleasant “lights” parade.

So today, is Monday, December 11 and we are about 14 days away from Christmas Day, and soon after bringing in the New Year 2018. All the parades are completed, and I am reflecting back in a quiet moment or two.

Let me describe “we”. The City of Charleston SC held their Christmas parade on a warm Sunday! Myself, Tristan our wonderful dedicated Citadel Cadet who is graduating this year, a group of “backpackers”, students from many of the lowcountry schools who are in our afterschool and filmmaking program, all riding in a Hendrick Chevy “big black truck”.

Then for Mt Pleasant “Light” Parade, on a much colder Sunday afternoon, Kelsi from the SC Ports Authority, gathered us up in a SCPA truck; all decorated somewhat with lights and handmade garland. (We needed more lights – see us next year!)

Both parades brought us different experiences, but one common thread was woven throughout. The “backpackers” from many different schools, experiences and cultures, spent time together socializing, having fun, drinking hot chocolate, even often a protein snack, and eating Christmas Cookies. Somehow in the midst of all these festivities, friendships were formed and respect for each other and their talents confirmed. I could hear them talking: “wow you are really smart. how did you do that? Show me, will you? Quiet on the set, we are recording.”

Key to all of these happenings was the use of technology. I hear often complaints from many about too much use of technology –i.e. the ipads, phones, etc.

In our program, we focus on storytelling. Releasing the creative spirit and the ability to visually create in the “mind” within each is a must. How it’s done is with the use of an IPAD, that’s loaded with IMOVIE and the use of the IPAD to film and take photos.  I should add that the addition of the IOGRAPHER has allowed us to travel (go on the set) to accomplish “movies on the fly!”

Our focus is to empower each student backpacker. Trust them to open up the IMovie. There is a storyboard that helps the student to think through the story, outline it and then WRITE. Next, to visually include the photos or film. OF NOTE: Within Backpack Journalist curriculum we have a storyboard template also that encourages a student to organize their thoughts, hand draw each scene and then to write!

It’s the trust to empower that’s important, and to accept their outcome, even it’s a monster or strange sounds, or a fast paced edit. They are “doing it!”.

The stories written as a result of these gatherings, range from at best “Goofy” renderings of stories, to a serious one about a Fake Santa, and throughout we find lots of happiness in their faces, and amazingly creative stories. Imagine a “Fake Santa” story that addresses a sleigh that’s the back of a truck that brings in the non-profit world?

I love it all, and know this, that this “training” and the outcomes from the two social parade sessions will transfer into their academic lives, as they gather up other stories about an historical event, a science project that needs to go visual or simply a book report converted to a short film.  They are “working” their minds, and creating!

All videos are on our facebook.com/backpackjournalist

Feeling really blessed now, and thank the parents of these special student backpackers!

In closing,  I have not yet been successful in how to get on and off the back of a truck, with the tail gate up.   For certain, watching these young backpackers “hop” over the tailgate clearly worked for each of them. The heating pad feels really good right now, along with an ice pack every now and then. Before the next parade I most certainly will do stretches and much more exercise to allow me to just “hop over!” Don’t’ want to miss a bit!

Team Beachbody are you out there?














SC Port Authority provided a great truck for us to ride in!