Presented by Mana Photo In partnership with Anastasia Photo and ICP
In patriotic camps and clubs around the United States, roughly 400,000 children annually are taught—often with a military subtext—what it means to be American. Targeting children as young as eight years old, these camps range in specialization from instructing Young Marines to training future border patrol agents.
Sarah Blesener’s ongoing project examines the interplay of religion, love of country, and military-style training in the promotion of “new Americanism” to young people across the United States. Over the past year, Blesener photographed patriotic clubs and camps in twelve states to uncover this renewed embrace of the centuries-old theme of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny.
Here, in this microcosm of a changing nation, youth straddle the vulnerability of adolescence and simultaneous stripping away of individuality. Blesener’s aims to open up dialogue around the nuanced and complex ideals being instilled in an emergent generation. The work on display is part of her ongoing series "Beckon Us From Home."