Yunasa & Yunasa West:
Created Specifically for Gifted Youth
Designed and led by eminent experts in the field of gifted youth, Yunasa embraces gifted children for who they are, helping them understand and work with the unique joys and challenges that gifted children face.
Many traditional programs for gifted youth focus solely on intellectual abilities, overlooking the need for these children to grow in all aspects of their lives. Yunasa supports the whole gifted child, encouraging growth and support of campers intellectually, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Geared toward the unique needs of gifted children, while offering all the enjoyment of a traditional summer sleep-away camp, Yunasa provides a combination of traditional camp activities and special workshops designed specifically to help gifted children learn more about themselves as they develop greater awareness and self-acceptance.
Campers interact personally with experts in the field of gifted youth who have the knowledge and experience to help these exceptional children understand and hone the unique qualities that make them gifted, fostering personal growth and development.
All staff members are trained in working with gifted youth, and many are gifted individuals themselves.
Led by Experts in the Field of Gifted
Yunasa began as a collaboration between IEA President Elizabeth Jones and IEA’s Senior Fellows: Elizabeth Meckstroth, M.S.W.; Patricia Gatto-Walden, Ph.D.; Michael Piechowski, Ph.D.; and Stephanie Tolan, M.A. IEA’s Senior Fellows have remained vital to the organization and operation of Yunasa since its inception. They are now joined by Yunasa Fellows James Delisle, Ph.D.; Amy Gaesser, Ph.D.; Shelagh Gallagher, Ph.D.; and Dan Tichenor, M.A. These eminent experts in the field of gifted youth and education play integral roles in the organization, planning, and implementation of Yunasa and lead workshops and discussions at camp each year. Click here for more about our Fellows.
Campers – What to Expect
In addition to the array of traditional camp activities, Yunasa offers workshops and expert-led sessions for campers to:
• Learn coping techniques to understand and manage emotions
• Practice meditation and visualization techniques designed to support the needs of children with highly active minds
• Develop an understanding of their intellectual and creative gifts
• Learn to manage personal and societal pressures through teambuilding, conflict-resolution, tolerance, and acceptance
• Discover that they are more than just intellect
Joining a Community, Building Strong Relationships
Yunasa offers highly able children the opportunity to join a community of campers who are also gifted, creating a sense of affirmation and belonging that campers often feel for the first time at Yunasa. Many children return year after year to continue in their pursuit of personal growth and to rejoin the campers and staff with whom they have developed strong connections. Campers come from across the country – and sometimes from outside the United States – and have interests in a variety of different fields, establishing a diverse community of learners.
Yunasa is the Lakota Sioux word for “balance”, a core value around which the camp’s ideals and activities are based. Campers strive for health in the physical domain by taking risks and engaging in camp activities like the zipline, high ropes, and lake activities. Socially, campers grow as they form profound friendships within a community of understanding, accepting peers. Campers also develop emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually during carefully-crafted workshops and traditional Native American rituals.
Campers learn that the self is composed of five domains – intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical – a concept that is integral to camp activities and workshops that:
• Encourage campers to take risks and step outside their comfort zones
• Foster leadership in thought and action
• Engage campers’ intellectual curiosity and sense of wonder
• Connect campers with nature and the environment
• Expand campers’ horizons and provide them with opportunities for support and growth
• Challenge campers to strive for their personal best
• Build self-acceptance and confidence
• Help campers overcome fears through physical challenges
• Provide the support and environment necessary for campers to challenge themselves, build friendships, develop confidence, and find balance in their lives
Yunasa Leadership Program
We also offer exciting opportunities for leadership within the Yunasa community. Campers who have attended Yunasa for at least one summer prior to the year of “aging out” may be invited to apply to the leadership program. Overseen by dedicated leadership counselors, Emerging Leaders and Counselors in Training have the opportunity to grow in responsibility and peer leadership within the Yunasa community. Because the spaces in the leadership program are limited, it is a competitive program in which many factors are considered, and becoming a leadership camper is a privilege and an honor.
Parents, You Benefit Too
Participation in Yunasa also includes an opportunity for parents to gather with Yunasa faculty members, usually at the beginning or end of the camp week, to discuss the unique challenges of raising a gifted child and to develop the skills necessary to meet his or her needs. At the end of camp, parents also receive feedback on the growth of their child from the expert who led their psychosynthesis group over the course of the week. We are always looking for parent volunteers on the first and last day of camp. If you are a local parent, or are traveling with your camper to Yunasa and are available to help, please email the Program Coordinator, and indicate “Parent Volunteer” in the subject line. Please note: we do not currently accept parent volunteers during the week at camp. There are many other ways to be involved, however, and we would love your help! If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity outside of camp, please contact us. Thank you!
Which camp location is right for me?
Both Yunasa locations have similar offerings, and both camps will provide a valuable experience for your child. There are some environmental differences between the two camp locations, however, so in addition to geographic and scheduling considerations, you may want to consider the differences between the camps if you are having difficulty determining which location is right for your child.
Yunasa in Michigan, for ages 10-14, offers:
• Dorm-style living
• A large lake
• A larger group of campers, including leadership campers ages 15-17
Yunasa West in Colorado, for ages 10-15, offers:
• A more rugged, camp-style feel with cabin living
• A greater emphasis on ecology
• A Rocky Mountain setting at a high elevation
• A smaller, more intimate group of campers