By Jabbar Saddiq, 14, Drew MS
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Jabbar says no matter how many times he sees the Grand Canyon, he’ll never stop being amazed.

Most of the places I go are pretty close to my home, which is an apartment building near Broadway and 51st Street in South Los Angeles. Across the street is a church and a big empty parking lot. There’s also a market, a clothing store and a TV shop. We have a few trees, but none that are really big. I don’t see much sky because there are so many buildings. There are lots of lights and cars. I don’t spend a lot of time outside because there’s not really anything to do.

So I felt excited when I heard about a free trip I could take to the Grand Canyon in Arizona with the Boys and Girls Club last fall. This would be my farthest trip out of Los Angeles. I knew that the Grand Canyon was a really big hole in the ground, but I didn’t know much else.

A group of about 50 kids and staff members from the Challengers Boys and Girls Club got on buses and left the club on a Thursday morning. I also had the job of recording the trip on a video camera. We were going to make a DVD for everyone who didn’t go.

After a couple hours on the bus the scenery started changing. There weren’t a lot of houses, lights or people as we drove through the desert, mostly just dirt, rocks and hills. It was so different from my neighborhood that I wanted to stay there.

We got to our hotel around dinner time. My two roommates and I stayed up late, because we were talking and watching TV. We woke up at 6 a.m. for breakfast, excited to see the Grand Canyon.

It took about 20 minutes to get to the Grand Canyon from the hotel. During the bus ride I kept wondering how big the canyon would be. Would there be houses or stores? Would there be horses and mules? I wanted to see what kind of people lived near the Grand Canyon. I was picturing a blue sky, reddish mountains and desert.

This photo was taken from a video shot by Jabbar on his trip.

I turned on the video camera as soon as we got off the bus at the Grand Canyon. At first everything was different than what I had imagined. Instead of a big blue sky and red mountains there were a few buildings, a train station, equipment for the mules and old-fashioned-looking stores. But when I went through the souvenir store and came out the back then I saw the Grand Canyon I had expected.

Immediately, I could see the orange, yellowish and red rock walls of the canyon, trees (like Christmas trees) and the biggest, bluest and clearest sky I had ever seen. I felt so glad to be there, because this was so different than where I live.

When I saw the canyon I thought, I need to film as much as I can. I had to show everybody at the Boys and Girls Club that there are more things to see in the world than Los Angeles. I went to the widest angle view with the camera and very slowly spun around to get as much of the view as I could. I didn’t want to move too fast because it might mess up the shot.

The clear blue sky was all around me

The canyon was so huge. It made me feel so small. I’d film one part and think that’s it, and then I’d turn and there’d be more. The sky, which didn’t have any smog, was so huge that it was like I was closer to it. I thought that something this big could be created only by God.

For one shot, I slowly walked toward the edge while pointing the camera at the ground. When I got to the edge I leaned over to show the drop. (I made sure that I had a good grip on the camera.) I wanted the people watching it to think, “Is he going to fall?” The canyon was the deepest thing I’d ever seen. I could see the Colorado River a mile below at the bottom and it looked like a tiny stream.

The park ranger told us about how the water in the Colorado River carved the canyon thousands of years ago. The ranger took us on a walk and talked to us about the canyon. He said mules, a mix of a horse and donkey, usually carry stuff like clothes or supplies up and down the canyon to people spending the night at the bottom. Our guide told us about the different animals that live in the canyon, like a fat kind of squirrel, bobcats, vultures and eagles. I saw the fat squirrels just a few feet away from me. They were cute and furry. We also saw mules inside a gate. A man was inside taking care of them. I wanted to ride a mule, but when I smelled them, no.

I was listening to the guide but I wasn’t really paying attention. I couldn’t take my eyes off the canyon because it was so beautiful. I would record the guide talking and then shoot video of the scenery and then shots with the guide talking with the scenery in the background. I wanted that mix of the guide, who was talking, and the scenery because that makes a better video. It’s telling a story.

I felt like I could’ve stayed a week not just a day. If I had a whole week, I could have seen more places along the canyon and shot more footage. I would like to have gone down into the canyon or taken a plane ride above the canyon. It’s so big that I couldn’t do it all in a day. I would like to go back just to see that scenery again.