Explore is a philanthropic media organization

Parrotfish on the Cayman Cam

Teen Cam Op Maddie Dives Right In

Teenage volunteer cam op Maddie brings spirit and energy to her role. But operating explore’s live cams isn’t the only time she works behind the camera; her photography is currently being exhibited at the Van Singel Fine Arts Center in Michigan! And since September 20th – 26th, 2015 is Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week, we’d like to bring your attention to a young person living with MITO. Here, Maddie tells us in her own words about finding strength in doing what she loves.

“I started volunteering as a camera operator on February 9th, 2015. As I’m sure some of you know, if you read explore’s post about me, I have health issues (well that’s an understatement!). I have Mitochondrial Disease and Autism (depending on the situation most people can’t tell that I do), along with many other things. But I don’t let that get in my way I live my life, no matter how tired I get. As long as the result was worth spending the energy, that’s all that matters.

“The first thing I do on my Cayman Reef Cam shift is do a full 360° scan to see what’s around and what has changed since the last time I was on. One of the most exciting things when I was on the controls was my first stingray! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! The “Tang Gang” is also one of my favorites. I can’t help but smile when they come through, and it’s always great to see “Queenie the Queen Parrotfish” who loves to show off for the camera.

Maddie and Lucy the chinchilla

Maddie and Lucy the chinchilla

“When I find something cool, I keep the camera on it as long as I possibly can and try to get snapshots. But sometimes I have to keep my full attention on whatever I’m tracking. Then, I just hope a viewer gets pictures of it and posts it!

“When I’m operating the cameras, I sit in my recliner in the living room and almost always have one of our three dogs sitting with me. Sometimes my chinchilla Lucy (named after Lucille Ball) sits with me for a few minutes… until she gets bored and starts jumping around on my head.

“I’m an animal and nature photographer, but my favorite thing is riding horses. I have been riding Ellie at Cheff Therapeutic riding center for almost 12 years and I have been a volunteer for almost 3 years.”

                                                               – Maddie, Camera Operator, age 18