I grew up in West Baltimore, but many of my friends lived (or currently reside) in Catonsville, a town that begins where the southwestern city limits end. I’ve straddled the train tracks in Patapsco, tried tricks in St. Tim’s skate park, lit bottle rockets under the Frederick Road bridge. Now, from the 16th to the 19th, 20 teenage refugees will be working in my old stomping grounds, as part of National Geographic’s Baltimore Photo Camp.

The refugees come from Burma and Eritrea, and have just started living in Catonsville. The idea is to have National Geographic contributing photographers Kitra Cahana and Amy Toensing teach them how to document and process their new lives through photography. That means learning about photographic vision, equipment, techniques, and using that to answer the question: “What do you miss about home?” Many of the students’ responses had to do with nature and food, so I’d expect to see a lot of pictures of Patapsco, local cuisine favorites, and the Sunday Farmers’ Market.

The project represents a collaboration between Baltimore’s school system, National Geographic, and Olympus, who’s providing the cameras for the photo camps. It’s always good to see corporate advertising dollars turned to something other than brainwashing.

There will be a small exhibition on the 19th at UMBC where students will showcase their work. Check out the magazine’s site for more details on the photo camps.