Thursday, June 20, 2019

Last Saturday, we picked up Smarty from her first sleepaway camp in the mountains near Colorado Springs. We could not communicate with her during the camp due to its "no cell phones policy", and I could not help wondering whether she is enjoying the camp and if she misses home too much. However, we found her on Saturday morning dirty, happy, and sad to leave "this magical place".
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.

Your Turn

What summer experience did your kids enjoy most so far?


Joyful Learner said...

That’s wonderful she found her tribe! The kids sound a lot like the homeschooling community we’ve been part of...lots of kids into D&D and Magic the Gathering. K seems to get along better with mainstream kids as long as they are nice kids. Her overexcitabilities are more managed and she doesn’t come as quirky even though she can be. But then again, we focus a lot on social emotional development. It helps that I can help her understand the sensitivities. For me, it would have helped to have one person understand so I try to be that person to her. And then I try to encourage her to find common ground with different kinds of people whether it be tennis, reading, writing, etc. Sometimes I encourage her to step out of her comfort zone and try things her friends are interested in whether they are different taste in music or activities.

MaryAnne said...

That sounds like a great experience for her! Right now my son is enjoying archery camp and the girls are enjoying lots of free time.

Joyful Learner said...

We are enjoying our time in Paris!

Ticia said...

That sounds like an amazing camp, I want to go!

My kids most enjoyed our trip up to Iowa to see their new "cousin."