When Ish and I were first trying to conceptualize what this website might look like and achieve, we scoured the web for ideas. It was a real boost to our confidence to find that our philosophy for education, kids and travel were shared by so many around the world. The idea that learning didn’t have to happen in school and that the world has much to teach youngsters isn’t as unusual as one might think.

Learning on the go

Learning on the go


During our search, one of the first families we came across were the Jenss. They are a family of four like us. While I devoured dad Rainer Jenss’s posts , Ethan and Cameron had fun poking around the kid-friendly site the Jenss boys had built on the National Geographic Kids website. (Check it out here )

It was the first time I showed my kids the National Geographic Kids’ site  but it wouldn’t be the last.

NGK logo Over the course of the trip when they were wondering where we’d see monkeys, or exactly what kind of whale that was in the Galapagos, I’d send them over to the site to figure it out.

So last month when I was in New York City for Blogher and got an invitation to meet some of the staff behind the magazine I jumped at the chance.

Over the hours I spent there I was reacquainted with the National Geographic I’d peeked at as a child. Except now it’s a magazine designed just for kids, with fun activities and interactive apps and more. Between the books, mags and toys they showcased that day I was pretty impressed.

But then I heard about the photo contest and my heart soared again because this, this is what I so want for all of our kids: exposure to the planet – as little or as much as they can get to – and encouragement to pursue the things they’re passionate about.

Camera showstopper India

A picture bridges the language gap in India

Here’s how it works:

The sixth annual International Photography Contest for Kids lets kids from areas where 12 NGK magazines are published  (Bulgaria, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey and the United Kingdom, Us/Canada) to compete in four categories (people, animals, scenery, humor). Photos taken by kids aged 6-14 are entered into regional contests with each area selecting first and second place winners. All of the selected first place winners then compete for the grand prize – a five-day, four night trip to Washington D.C. and a special tour of the National Geographic headquarters!

Melina Bellows, International Photography Contest judge and National Geographic’s executive vice president and chief creative officer for Books, Kids and Family, echoed the sentiment that really brings it all home: “Through the National Geographic International Photography Contest for Kids, we hope to encourage kids from around the globe to use the power of photography to capture their world and share it with others.”

Me too.

The details:

U.S. and Canadian entries must be in by Oct. 31, 2012 and you can submit a maximum of one photo in any or all of the four categories online at http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids-photo-contest/

Entry forms and official contest rules  can be found here:  http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/contests/photo-contest-rules/.

Winners will be announced in January 2013 and featured in the U.S. and international editions of National Geographic Kids magazine.