On Kindness: Reflections from Virtual Yunasa
By Qiao Li, IEA Program Coordinator
“Asking if Yunasa is worth it is like asking if a diamond sparkles. This camp has given me so much and I truly hope that I can give back a fraction of what I have received from it. I took many things away from this week, but what I learned most is that even when we are far apart and cannot hold hands or link arms or hug, this community endures, and it continues to give its gifts to all who participate in it. I am so grateful that I can return for another year and I truly hope that I will see everyone in 2021.” – Virtual Yunasa East camper
Another powerful season of Yunasa and Yunasa West, another year of extraordinary growth for all that’s involved. What’s more? This summer, both of our camps were virtual.
Even just three months ago, we held on to the slim hope that we might be able to run camp in-person. When we eventually found out that both of our summer camps had to cancel, we were devastated. At the same time, the team knew that we have to do something for our campers and families.
The past few months have truly uprooted our lives in unimaginable ways. More than ever, we want to surround our children with a world that is stimulating, wholesome, safe, and filled with connection.
With this in mind, we built our virtual camps on the framework that we must create a safe virtual space for all campers, to encourage open, honest and respectful dialogue. True to Yunasa’s mission, we wanted to embrace and nurture each camper for who they are – the intellectual, social, emotional, physical and spiritual – so they can explore balance within and throughout.
Even though this virtual experience is new and different, all of our campers – new and returning – embraced the magic of this new beginning with an open heart and genuine curiosity. They shared laughter, made friends, and supported one another in cheerful yet profound ways.
This year our camps’ theme is kindness. During these difficult and often confusing times for families, the ability to be kind to ourselves, attuning to our physical, emotional, and mental needs, combined with possessing an empathetic and compassionate view towards each other, are critical elements to restore balance, bring peace, and spread love.
At camp, we did a project called kindness rock. It’s a meditative art project that not only encourages campers to think about the bright moments in their day, the finished art piece also sends random acts of love and kindness to the world.
We also hosted a Variety Show during each camp. With most of the campers being at home, it actually lends a special lens to their home life where many campers chose to showcase their cooking skills and musical talents that otherwise may not be possible at camp.
Our entire Yunasa staff is very grateful for this unique opportunity to work with all campers and families. We hope everyone continues to stay safe and healthy, and we look forward to seeing everyone again in 2021!