Tag Archives: Yunasa

Yunasa 2014

By Jennifer de la Haye

Jennifer is a recent addition to the IEA staff and attended Yunasa for the first time this summer. IEA’s pioneering Yunasa summer camps unite highly able youngsters with experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children. Campers explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical aspects of their lives.


Yunasa 2014 left me breathless – perhaps because this was my first Yunasa experience, or perhaps because Yunasa is a special and unique hub of safety, growth, and unparalleled camp-magic. The afternoon of Sunday, July 27, campers began to filter into the conference center of Camp Copneconic in Fenton, Michigan; some brows were knitted, some smiles were uncertain, some faces looked thoughtful. Several of the kids seemed to float, others skipped, many hugged with excited ferocity, quite a few squealed and jumped up and down as they spotted a friend. The older campers – deemed either EL for ‘Emerging Leader’ or CIT for ‘Counselor in Training’ – whose bonds with one another are indurate after years of Yunasa, dispersed to welcome the younger campers, show them to their rooms, and initiate ice-breaking exercises. Kids who seemed a bit apprehensive were directed to the table of Yunasa Buddies, cuddly stuffed animals donated by staff and campers meant to offer a bit of comfort throughout the week.


On the first night of camp, Newbury Honor Award winner and IEA Senior Fellow Stephanie Tolan led a group discussion on her work, Flight of the Raven, the second book in a series about four gifted youth who combine powers to save a violent, troubled world. I was immediately struck by the depth and intelligence of the conversation; the questions the campers asked were interesting and insightful. And so mature. Was I sitting in on a college literature course or was I watching a summer camp unfold?

See more highlights from camp!

IEA Summer Spotlight 2014

By Jennifer de la Haye

“I am happy to be in a room of too’s,” said Betsy Jones, IEA President, as we concluded IEA’s Summer Spotlight this year. “We are all too’s – too emotional, too smart, too intense….”

Tuesday, June 8, was a bright evening of community, learning, and friendship as IEA and its community gathered at the University of Southern California for dinner and a time of sharing. Eight IEA Apprentices, who studied Industrial Design under Stan Kong at Art Center College of Design, displayed their impressive concept design sketches – pieces of art that would later become final projects. Posters, books, and sculptures created by Academy students, Caroline D. Bradley Scholars, and Yunasa campers were also scattered about USC’s Vineyard Room, along with plenty of photos of Academy kids at The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens; Yunasa West campers frolicking in Colorado; and CDB Scholars who convened for the Bradley Seminar in April.

IMG_0344IMG_4479IMG_4477 See some of the highlights from Summer Spotlight!

Yunasa West 2014

By Jessica Houben

IEA’s pioneering Yunasa summer camps unite highly able youngsters with experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children. Campers explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical aspects of their lives.

Yunasa West 2014

In June, 39 campers from across the country came together for Yunasa West at Camp Shady Brook in Deckers, Colorado, for a week of intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical growth.

The week started off by introducing this year’s IEA program theme: The Common Good. As we talked about The Common Good, campers shared what the theme meant to them and how they thought it would be relevant to their camp experience. They described the Common Good as acting unselfishly, doing things for other people rather than yourself, and behaving in a way that promotes the health of the group, even if one’s own best interest is at stake. We proceeded to establish our rules as a group to prepare for the week as part of a community. Each camper exemplified The Common Good in their actions towards others at camp, respecting one another and making efforts to ascertain that everyone felt accepted.

See more highlights from Yunasa West 2014!

The Many Faces of Gifted: Tara R.

By Carole Rosner

Every gifted person has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts depicting the many faces of gifted by highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs. IEA’s pioneering Yunasa summer camps – mentioned in this story – unite highly able children and experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children and provides an opportunity for campers to explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social and physical aspects of their lives.


Tara Raizada
Past Yunasa Camper
Current Student at Northwestern University

“The ‘gifted’ label, for me, mattered less and less as I got older,” college freshman Tara Raizada said. “When I was younger, the identification pushed me to achieve more, but I ended up going to a middle school comprised solely of TAG [Talented and Gifted] students, where being ‘gifted’ was the norm, and I began to attribute less to the term than I had before, since that kind of child was so ubiquitous in my life. I hardly ever heard the word during high school, and I began to think even less about it. Yunasa became the only place I ever really pondered the term, and then I thought of it in a positive light. At the same time, I think it’s important to strike a balance with this label, because it can put children under a lot of pressure to achieve what they think ‘gifted’ kids need to achieve. Yunasa, I think, contributes a lot to balancing that fear out for many campers I’ve seen there, to realize that being ‘gifted’ is also a personality trait and an intellectual mindset, not just a measure of intelligence.”

Read more of Tara’s story!

Yunasa 2013!

By Jessica Houben

IEA’s pioneering Yunasa summer camps unite highly able youngsters with experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children. Campers explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical aspects of their lives.

“Know Thyself” was at the core of all of IEA’s programs this year, and particularly for Yunasa, as this theme tied into each activity throughout the week. Yunasa is the Lakota word for “balance”, and finding balance within as a means of gaining self-knowledge is the focus of camp. From July 21-28 at Camp Copneconic in Fenton, Michigan, campers explored themselves more deeply and learned integration strategies for the five domains of self: social, emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual. For many returning campers, Yunasa is a place where they rejoin their family each year, building their existing connections and extending themselves to make new ones. What was most unique about camp this year was the number of new campers who were accepted into the Yunasa family with open arms.

Call in the Directions

Call in the Directions

Check out more highlights from camp!

IEA Summer Spotlight 2013

115 students, parents and supporters of gifted education gathered at USC on July 9 for IEA’s Summer Spotlight 2013, an event designed to showcase gifted students and the programs we offer to meet their needs. The evening was a huge success, and we wanted to share some of the highlights with those of you who were not able to attend.

IMG_4588 L1000861 L1000923

See some of the evening’s highlights.

Yunasa West 2013!

IEA’s pioneering Yunasa and Yunasa West summer camps unite highly able youngsters with experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children. Campers explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical aspects of their lives. 2013 was the 2nd year for Yunasa West, which took place June 9-16 at YMCA Camp Shady Brook in Sedalia, Colorado.

2013 Yunasa West campers and staff

2013 Yunasa West campers and staff

Twenty-four kids from across the country joined us for Yunasa West 2013. This was the second year of Yunasa West, and it proved to be yet another memorable and magical year!

Campers explored all five aspects of Self – intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual – and learned how to work towards achieving balance across these five areas of their lives.

Every day contained at least one activity to help campers embrace each of the five aspects of Self. In just one day, a camper could go rock climbing (physical), talk with all of the other campers during activities and at meals (social), learn about the different aspects of emotional intelligence in a special workshop (emotional and intellectual), and do yoga (spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual).

See what the campers did at Yunasa West!

7 Questions with Jessica Houben


Jessica Houben is a Program Coordinator with IEA. She will be working most closely with the Yunasa camps this program season.

1. What are you most passionate about in working with the gifted community?

I am most passionate about working with gifted youth in a non-traditional educational setting because I get to see kids grow on a personal level as well as intellectually. Getting to know each individual student throughout the application process and then seeing them in person going through an IEA program is really rewarding because these kids are multi-faceted and complex in the most amazing ways. In a school setting, you don’t always get to see these kids for who they are, but at IEA, we get to see them blossom as individuals. It is such a pleasure to hear happy parents when they realize that they’ve finally found programs that will challenge their child.

2. What is the most interesting thing you have learned about gifted kids since you started at IEA?

I guess I always thought about gifted kids being really intelligent, which they are. However, one interesting thing I have learned is that they can also be very emotionally intense. They do not take injustices lightly, they are passionate about the world’s problems, and they can be overly worried about friends or loved ones. These kids care a lot about their environment, and if given the proper tools, can really make a difference as leaders of the next generation.

3. What are you looking forward to about coordinating Yunasa this year?

I have coordinated Academy classes as well as our Apprenticeship Program for the past two program seasons and had the opportunity to attend and be in a supportive role at Yunasa in 2011. I love that Academy and Apprenticeship are academic programs that provide challenging intellectual content to gifted learners that they may not otherwise have access to, but I’m really excited to facilitate personal and intellectual growth within a camp environment. I really enjoy camping, the outdoors, and carrying on traditions. I’m hopeful that I can continue the Yunasa tradition and that even more students are able to benefit from the camp.

4. What’s your favorite activity from an IEA program?

It is really hard to choose because there are so many things that I love that we do in each program! I like that we do Olympics at Apprenticeship, because the Apprentices support and encourage their team members and compete in a positive way. I also enjoy Psychosynthesis at Yunasa because it allows campers the opportunity to focus and relax. However, I think my favorite activity from an IEA program is launching rockets with our Academy students. During spring, I assisted in the Rocket to Calculus class and had the chance to build and launch a rocket with students, which was so much fun because I got to see the students’ faces light up as the math and science they learned came to life!

5. What is your educational philosophy?

I believe that education should be meaningful, holistic, and child-centered. In today’s society, a lot of emphasis is placed on test scores and results rather than focusing on the process of learning. Children need to learn by exploring their world, solving problems that are relevant to them, and having positive experiences in content areas that are interesting. Of course, everyone needs to learn the basics, but that is just one part of education. The other part is finding out what each child enjoys and wants to learn more about and then providing the opportunities to learn about that topic in a way that keeps them interested in becoming lifelong learners.

6. What’s your favorite snack food?

My favorite snack food is chocolate. Whenever I’m feeling tired, or stressed, or I just need something a little sweet, chocolate is the answer. It can be in any form; I don’t discriminate.

7. What’s one activity you enjoy doing in your free time?

I really enjoy doing yoga in my free time. I have practiced yoga on and off for about 9 years, taking different classes in college, at yoga studios, at the gym, or with a video in my living room. It’s an activity that uses my mind and body, and every time I do it I feel like I’m doing a good thing for myself.

Like this post? Please share!
Facebook Twitter

The Many Faces of Gifted: Matthew

Interview by Carole Rosner

Every gifted person has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts depicting the many faces of gifted by highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs. IEA’s pioneering Yunasa summer camp – mentioned in this story – unites highly able children and experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children and provides an opportunity for campers to explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social and physical aspects of their lives.


Yunasa Camper

Matthew lives on the island of Java in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. He is 13 years old, is home schooled and has traveled to Camp Copneconic in Fenton, Michigan, for the last two summers to attend Yunasa.

How did Matthew hear about Yunasa?
Matthew first learned about Yunasa through his mentor. “Mark Lediard has been my mentor for three years now, beginning from the age where I was withdrawn from formal schooling. He and I now meet regularly to discuss opportunities for my enrichment and intellectual expansion, including out-of-country learning and meetings with learned professionals. It was through Mark’s collaboration with a homeschooling curriculum adviser named Kathi Kearney that I learned of Yunasa, and I was quick to jump at the prospect.”

But why Yunasa?
“Indonesia, despite being diverse both culturally and biologically, does not have the inherent essence that Yunasa offers. Although the country does have camps, most are relatively generic when compared to Yunasa; mostly they fall within the categories of academic, ecological, or religious. It can be said that the reason for my participation was to experience these new spiritual aspects that no other camp could seem to offer.”

What has he gained from attending Yunasa?
“Words alone cannot describe the effects Yunasa have had on me; intellectually, socially, physically, and spiritually. I have met people with radically varying perspectives, others with opinions very akin to my own, and those still who have enhanced me and the way I see myself by their personalities and experiences. Here, I found an arena to discuss and debate the theories I hold so dear, and to marvel at the ambitions of others who were driven by that same desire to cultivate humanity.”

What does Matthew like about Yunasa?
“The experience of Yunasa was terrifically structured, and my greatest thanks go to the IEA staff for organizing and providing such a seamless daily schedule. The topics and contributions of the Senior Fellows were invaluable in expanding my intellectual and emotional repertoire and are inspiring to reflect on, especially when considering their many possibilities.”

What part of Yunasa has had the greatest effect on Matthew?
“Although I meditate in my daily life, the concept of psychosynthesis itself intrigued me, and I quickly found out why. In the process, I experienced undoubtedly profound visions of the unified continuum of time; often, I would leave the session pondering my beliefs and what it meant to be there. Frankly, I cannot wait to experience pychosynthesis again next year and see what I may experience.”

What similarities does he find between himself and the other campers?
“I find that in a myriad of ways, we share similar perspectives, interests, and ways of comprehending reality. I can say that I have never felt more assimilated into a community than Yunasa’s gestalt, especially when considering I have lived in a foreign society for all my life. In this way, Yunasa is a sanctuary, a home for me. Even before I arrived, I had an innate knowing of the events to come, as it is an undeniable fact that Yunasa has that powerful quality of making one feel completely and utterly at ease with his surroundings, his peers, and most importantly, his inner beliefs.”

Does Matthew keep in touch with other campers throughout the year?
“As a matter of fact, I regularly keep in touch with my closer friends via email and online sources. They inform me on a constant basis about their current activities and circumstances, and it has happened more than once that we have asked each other for aid on issues that cannot be resolved by only a single perspective. It is an honor to know and communicate with these individuals, and I consider them to be important in my development.”

What does he do in his free time, and where does he see himself in the future?
“Being in the cultural fusion that is Indonesia, I am exposed to a wide variety of people, perspectives, and religions on a daily basis, even within my own household. The most enjoyable pastime is observing how all of these fundamentally different groups cooperate and interact in a common environment, even though many share dividing opinions and views.”

He also enjoys reading and writing, “mainly due to the unbounded creativity that they grant me in shaping myself as an individual. I greatly appreciate the intellectual diversity I gain from books and that I can create with writing. I believe that the greatest gift that is bestowed upon the world is the written word, and the knowledge that stems thereof.”

Like many gifted children, Matthew draws connections between different intellectual and spiritual subjects to make more sense of the world and wants to contribute positively to the world around him. “From a young age, I have expressed an intuitive knowing in the existence of an unseen organizational structure above the chaos of reality, and with it, a pressing need to aid humanity in grasping the concept of realms far beyond their understanding. Over time, this ambition progressed to an interest in the fields of theoretical physics and the philosophy of consciousness, namely Ontology. For as long as this aspiration has stood, I have dedicated my life to the unification of science and spirituality, the empirical and abstract. My purpose, I believe, is to aid humankind in reading what Einstein once termed as ‘The Mind of God.’”

Do you or your children want to share your experiences of being gifted? Please leave us a comment below or email us at IEAgifted@educationaladvancement.org!

Like this post? Please share!
Facebook Twitter

Why Radiating Possibility is a Powerful Message for Gifted Youth

By Jen Mounday

Photo from Knowledge@Wharton http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2537Radiating Possibility is an inspirational video highlighting the insight of Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. In partnership with his wife, Rosamund Zander – an executive coach and family systems therapist – he created five key steps to radiating possibility. The short film gives viewers the opportunity to witness Ben in action as he conducts his orchestra and individually tutor musicians in a very unique way. He draws his students out of the competitive mindset of performance and, instead, pushes them to experience life in their talent and a real connection to their skill. His dynamic instruction, combined with Roz’s therapeutic intuition, opens up a vibrant world of possibility that lies beyond fears, habits and assumptions. Viewers discover that every human being brought into the world of radiating possibility will be encouraged to keep their song going.

For the gifted child, Radiating Possibilty is the perfect conduit for self-discovery in a world often times wrought with competition and pressure. At Yunasa, we presented Radiating Possibility on the first night of camp and used it as a touchstone each day for accelerating the pace of interaction among peers. The goal was to give campers the courage to open their hearts and enter the dance, to drop the assumption that people aren’t interested in what they have to say.

The Zanders offer the following five steps to radiating possibility, each of which can be applied to help gifted children embrace themselves and their potential:

  1. Sit in the front row of your life. Participate!
    After a rousing clip of Ben conducting his orchestra with so much gusto that the musicians around him grin from ear to ear, he exclaims, “Throw yourself into life like a pebble in a pond and notice the ripples!” Gifted children may feel pressure from themselves or their peers to minimize their focus in a particular field because it is “too much” or “too intense.” They often receive verbal and nonverbal cues from the community around them suggesting they hold back or “rein in” their passion, enthusiasm or contributions in order to fit in with the group. But when gifted students are inspired to participate, with whatever skill sets they bring to the table, they are given an outlet and a means of giving back to their community, their peers and their families.
  2. When you make a mistake, say: “How fascinating!”
    Many gifted children struggle with perfectionism. Gifted children are well above average in certain areas, but they are still bound to make mistakes as part of being human. When gifted children practice looking in the face of failure; raising their hands, their voices and their eyebrows and shout, “How fascinating!”, they learn not to waste time dwelling on mistakes and to use mistakes as learning opportunities.
  3. Quiet the “voice in your head.”
    When Ben is instructing a student, he says he is “dealing with the student and the person standing next to the student” who whispers statements of doubt and fear in the student’s ear. We can’t necessarily get rid of the voice in the head, but we can choose how we respond to it. Ben suggests we say, “Thank you for sharing, but I’m busy,” to that negative voice. When gifted children focus themselves on being a contribution, they are able to achieve great things. Giving credit to the voice in the head only conceals their special talents. The gifted community can benefit greatly from self-talk as a means to overcoming these negative voices so they are free to perform, showcase and contribute in a way that holds nothing back!
  4. Live in radiating possibility. Become part of the song!
    The realm of possibility is all about dreams. In the dream world there are no barriers. The gifted mind is naturally full of possibilities and creative dreams. Allowing oneself to radiate in those possibilities takes practice. Practice begins with acting as if no barriers exist.
  5. Invent a new game: “I am a contribution.”
    Ask yourself, “How will I contribute today?” In the classroom, in group settings, in peer relationships, gifted children should see what they have to offer as a contribution, not just evidence of individual talent. Whether it’s playing an instrument, competing for a title or even earning grades, each act of will viewed as a contribution builds on the feeling of being fully alive. When gifted children think of themselves as contributing to something bigger than them, rather than measured as an individual success or failure, they strengthen their emotional and social muscles and discover a renewed sense of energy.

Gifted people radiating possibility become powerful forces in our society for good. Let us be the parents, teachers, family and organizations that help silence the voice in the head and become part of the song!

Have you or your kids tried any of these steps? How did they work out? Please share with us in the comment section below!

Like this post? Please share!
Facebook Twitter