robert land academy - "about turn"
One of the greatest things about doing what we do for a living is getting exposure to so many unique situations and people. And not only do we get to be there and meet these people, our job typically requires that we fully immerse ourselves and that we try to dig down to the deeper levels. This project was one of these great opportunities.
The Robert Land Academy is a boy's school in the Niagra region of southern Ontario that uses military-like structure and programs to help young man find a more successful path through their teenage years, and ideally through the rest of their lives. We were invited to join them on campus for a full week to learn about the programs and philosophies, see them in action, and ultimately capture them. Being around this kind of structure was rather new to us, having no previous military structure. It was a lot to take in.
As the days went on we got more comfortable with our surroundings and the boys got more comfortable with having cameras in their faces. The one thing we DIDN'T get more comfortable though was the heat!!! Being that we're from the west coast, we're used to summer-time high temps in the high 20's. Maybe a couple days a year it'll crack 30 degrees. But 45!!!! 35 in the shade... no no no no no... not cool. Luckily we were allowed to stay in our usual street clothes... shorts & short sleeves. These guys were running around in layers. Wool even! And not sweating. How is this possible?
The absolute most memorable thing about this entire adventure for us was hearing these boys stories. It was so powerful to hear where they were before they came to RLA and how far they'd come in the 2 - 4 years that been there. And then meeting their parents at the graduation, seeing those moments of being reunited, seeing the pride in their eyes... Let's just say it's not easy to focus through tears.