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Sixty years ago my grandfather, Joe Laub, urged his dear friend Lee Morrone to open up a summer camp. An overnight camp for children with special needs – a remarkable proposition at a time when people didn’t so much care for but deal with such children, often hiding them away in institutions. Camp Lee Mar would be different.  And throughout the years, I was told stories about just how different. Today, children come from all over the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East for seven weeks every summer in Lackawaxen, Pa. Lee, they say, is a miracle worker.

Finally, two years ago, I went with my parents to visit Lee at camp.  I knew of the history and Lee’s vision; I grew up hearing the uplifting camp stories. But to be honest, I was afraid. I expected sadness – how could you feel anything else witnessing all the limitations of disabled children struggling in a setting known for fun and frivolity?

I remember we arrived in the early evening and Lee escorted us to the dining room, where the children were having dinner. You’ve never seen such well-behaved, mannered children! Lee pointed out a child who came to camp having never eaten with utensils of any kind, and there he was, happily eating with fork and knife in hand. Lee walked by each table to say hello, checking in as the kids greeted her with bright smiles and loving eyes. “Don’t chew with your mouth open,” she’d say. “Sit up straight.” Nearly every child came to camp with a resume of what they couldn’t do. Lee would quickly recount this resume, remembering the list of “don’ts” and “can’ts.” Then, she’d invariably point the child out and say, with this boundless pride, and just a hint of indignation, “And now look at them!” Sure enough, they’d be doing what others said they’d never be able to do.

This wasn’t a place of sadness; there was love and acceptance everywhere. This wasn’t a place of humiliation; every camper had a story of extraordinary achievement. The only limitations, I learned, were the expectations I had brought with me. Lee’s biggest miracle was the camp itself. And with Ari Segal, her co-director of twenty years, and a staff of devoted counselors, she has inspired a new generation of professionals dedicated to people with special needs.  When I learned that this year Camp Lee Mar would be celebrating its 60th anniversary (as well as Lee’s 85th birthday), I knew I wanted to document it. It’s not often, after all, that you get a chance to be so close to so much miracle-making.

Gillian Laub is a photographer based in New York and a frequent contributor to TIME. See more of her work here

For more information on Camp Lee Mar, visit LeeMar.com.

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On Aug. 20, Will Lucas, a lanky righty from Fairfield, Conn., pitched a no-hitter in the Little League World Series. His performance was the opening highlight—the lead—on ESPN’s SportsCenter the next morning. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a bunch of prepubescent ballplayers, a few with voices higher than an Albert Pujols homer. Are we such a sports-obsessed society that we’ll devour the sporting thrills and heartbreak of children just to hold us over until football season?

But try telling the 11-year-olds from impoverished Lugazi, Uganda, who play in bare feet at home, why they shouldn’t be on television. They’ll just keep smiling and having the time of their lives in Williamsport, Pa., host since 1947 to the series—a 10-day tournament featuring eight teams from across the U.S. and eight international teams from places like Mexico, Curaçao, Japan and Panama.

Plus, the kids give better interviews than the pros. After Lucas hurled his no-no, an ESPN reporter asked a typical postgame question: How did it feel to be on the bottom of a celebratory dog pile? “It’s exciting,” Lucas said. “But then at the end, it really hurts.” Sharp, and funny. Can we call him up to the big leagues?

Sean Gregory is a staff writer at TIME.

Wayne Lawrence is a Brooklyn-based photographer. See more of his work here.

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“The campaign is in a lull. The wars overseas are winding down. Washington is paralyzed. I’ve loaded up my iPod with some new songs. There’s nothing to do but….hit the road!”

With that, veteran TIME political columnist Joe Klein began his three-week, eight-state road trip, which ended last Friday. Klein has made this sampling of the country’s political climate a yearly tradition. This time around, TIME sent three of the magazine’s contributors to accompany Klein for different legs of the journey. Here, LightBox presents a selection of their work as well as their thoughts from across America.


What was the single most memorable experience you had on the trip?

Andrew HinderakerIn Richmond, Virginia, at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in a Drug Rehabilitation Center, we met a woman who’d struggled with addiction since age nine. She was a convicted felon, and now, in her 40’s, was 21 months clean. She’d recently convinced a friend to allow her to farm a piece of land. For someone like her, whose addiction left her reliant on medical care most of her life, President Obama’s healthcare legislation meant for her a fresh start. With affordable healthcare, she could be a small business owner, a farmer, an active, contributing citizen; without it, she’s just a recovering addict. We learned her story because another man at the meeting expressed his disdain at the Healthcare Reform Act. We got to watch their argument, and this woman’s story change a man’s mind. It certainly proved Joe’s point about getting to know one another; perhaps the government should sponsor free coffee and organize meetings once a week with a group of local strangers.

What was the economic and political mood of the parts of the country you visited?

Katy Steinmetz: People seemed disappointed and exhausted by the political and economic state of things in America. Many were hopeful, but more were resigned—past anger and yearning for a little compromise.

What was the #1 problem facing the people you met?

Pete Pin: This was dependent on class. For a group of upper middle class voters in Charleston, West Virginia, they were most concerned with the visceral partisanship of the country and the future of the health care law. For rural voters in Jackson and Newcomerstown, Ohio, they were most concerned with jobs and social ills.

What was their #1 reason for hope?

Pete: Community at the local level. I learned that in spite of the partisanship and bickering in Washington, people genuinely believed that things can and will get better, not because of intervention by the federal government, but rather because of the community coming together at the local level.

Andrew Hinderaker for TIME

Leslie Marchut and Briggs Wesche eat breakfast with Joe Klein in Chapel Hill, N.C.

What is the national character? Are there uniquely American traits?

Pete: The singular thread I found was an overwhelming sense of self-reliance. Liberalism in the classical sense, John Stuart Mill.

AndrewEveryone likes barbeque.

Did you return from the trip more or less optimistic about the future of the country?

Andrew: Certainly more optimistic. One of the things that struck me most about the places that we visited was all the conversation. In all these pockets of America, folks more than willing, eager even, to talk and debate reach new conclusions. I don’t think it’s the impression you’d get of our citizens from watching the nightly news, but it’s something I observed in every niche.

Andrew Hinderaker is a former TIME photo intern and a photojournalist whose work has appeared in TIME, The Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine.

Pete Pin is currently the international photo intern at TIME and a photographer whose work has also appeared in The New York Times and Forbes.

Katy Steinmetz is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau.

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From the outset of her career as a young artist, LaToya Ruby Frazier has always found inspiration at home. In thoughtfully constructed black and white photographs she began, in her teens, to document herself and her family life in Braddock, Pa.

“What’s the most intimate thing you can portray? For me, it’s myself,” she says.

The work Frazier has featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial in New York City, which starts Thursday, builds on the classic documentary work she studied while in college at Syracuse University. Over time, the photographer, now 30, began to incorporate staged narratives and self-portraiture meant to challenge viewers with questions about the artist’s objectivity and representation, and that of her loved ones.

She was inspired by the famous work of the Farm Security Administration photographers like Dorothea Lange, but questioned those images. “We all remember Lange’s photograph of the migrant mother but how many of us remember her name?” she asks. “I felt social documentary can only go so far and I started to think, ‘What if the subjects of the Depression-era images photographed themselves?’”

The work featured in the Biennial leaves the confines of her family home and addresses the larger history and representation of Braddock, Pa.—yet it’s all inextricably linked back to Frazier’s life. The first series, called Campaign for Braddock Hospital (Save Our Community Hospital), began when she discovered in her research that the history of Braddock had omitted all the black families that lived there, including that of her own grandfather, who was a steel worker. It didn’t help when the clothing company Levi’s began using Braddock’s industrial history as the inspiration for a major advertising campaign. In one ad, the denim company calls for the “New Pioneers” to “Go Forth” to new opportunities in Braddock and invigorate the town’s growth.

Frazier was left stunned by what she saw as the irony and greed of the ads and eventually repurposed those images in her artwork. The series is made of two parts: first she begins a process of “copy editing” the ads with comments from members of the community, and photographs them. Then she made documentary photos of an actual protest to save the town’s hospital. All the images were made into black and white lithographic prints referencing both turn-of-the-century advertising and social documentary of the 1930s.

In a second series debuting at the Biennial, called Homebody, she created a set of narrative self-portraits in her step grandfather’s now-abandoned apartment in Braddock. The work is a more personal complement to the Campaign series and records a place steeped in memories for Frazier, memories of her deceased grandmother Ruby. The images document a performance in front of the camera as she moves throughout the empty, decaying environment. The Homebody photos expose a fragility that’s often apparent in her work: in an earlier series, The Notion of Family, she had recorded the end of her Grandmother’s life. Frazier herself, her mother and grandmother have all suffered chronic illnesses. Her portraits and self-portraits, she says, “are meant to be factual records of those things and are reflected in the collapsed landscape that is modern day Braddock, Pa.”

“I’m archiving history thats been erased,” she says. “I’m showing what the media is not showing—moments in the town that have been omitted from history and not just African American history, but the working class people I’m speaking about.”

“Braddock started to fall apart when I was born. I’m interested in how I contextualize myself,” she adds. The collapsed interiors and old blankets depicted in the Homebody series don’t provide comfort, only the feeling of whats been lost for Frazier, in a town that’s struggling to move toward an American dream that faded generations ago.

LaToya Ruby Frazier’s work is currently on view in the 2012 Whitney Biennial in New York City. She has previously exhibited her work at The New Museum, MoMA PS1 and The Andy Warhol Museum. She was featured last fall on the PBS program Art 21. To see more of her work click here.

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