Yunasa camp was indeed a great experience for Smarty. The very first thing she told us was, "I felt embraced here, with everyone being like me. I found that I could make friends and I learned so much about myself". We could not have asked for a better outcome. Smarty has a bit of social anxiety, and I was wondering as to how it is going to play out in camp. However, all counselors commented how eagerly she participated in all the activities and how open and enthusiastic she is. This is an interesting and endearing part about Smarty - she is always "all in" for a new experience if she feels accepted and encouraged. Clearly, the "elders" know how to engage quirky gifted kids and how to draw them out.
Smarty loved all the physical experiences that came in this camp - her favorite was rappelling and now she is asking if it's possible to sign her up for a "real" rock-climbing class. She tried archery, low and high ropes courses, horseback riding, and even "tomahawk throwing". Unfortunately, the small lake in camp was too cold for swimming, but she also tried kayaking in camp. She also enjoyed different discussions led by counselors and especially the one on overexcitabilities. She said that learning about overexcitabilities of gifted individuals helped her to understand a lot of her own traits.
This camp was clearly a nerd paradise. Smarty said that there were big groups of D&D lovers and Magic the Gathering players. Several boys brought musical instruments to camp and pulled together a band. Smarty made friends with a group of "first years" - another four girls from all over the country. She was also delighted to tell us that at least half of campers were grade skippers, so she did not feel as asynchronous there as she often felt in school. Smarty's best friend in camp was a 14 year old girl from Virginia who actually was selected as a CDB scholar last year. We met her briefly before she left with other kids on an airport shuttle, and she is a very lovely and remarkable young lady. I hope that Smarty will stay in touch with her friends through hangouts and emails.
Smarty also loved that the size of the camp was small - only 47 kids. Students were divided into groups of 12, and each had their own "elder leader", but they also intermixed for many activities and got to know each other well enough. Girls and boys each had one big cabin which they shared with two adult counselors. Smarty said that she was very grateful for her earplugs and that she used towels to make sort of a fort around her lower bunk bed. She said that she slept OK but she did miss having time to herself and that by the end of the long day not just her but all other kids were grumpy from "too much togetherness". Still, she loved this experience so much that she wants to come again next year and keep coming for as long as she is age-eligible. Ironically, this means that she can come throughout her high school summers, because she will still be 15 in her year before her senior year. We are very happy with how this camp worked out for her and hope that the summer plans for the next year will include Yunasa camp again.
What summer experience did your kids enjoy most so far?