Phone: (815) 713-4110 | Toll Free: 866-471-4616 | 6903 West White Eagle Road, Leaf River, IL 61047
Camp Kupugani FAQs
Below, you will find some of the answers to our most commonly asked questions. Remember, we are also more than happy to answer your questions via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us toll-free at 1-866-471-4616.
- How do I register my child for Camp Kupugani?
- When should I enroll my child?
- Why Camp Kupugani?
- Where is Camp Kupugani and Camp White Eagle?
- What is the weather like in northwest Illinois in the summer?
- Who owns your camp? Is your camp affiliated with any organization?
- What is the best age to come to camp? How do I know my child is ready? How do I know I'm ready as a parent?
- Why do you have two week minimum length camps?
- Why is Camp Kupugani for girls-only and boys-only (i.e. not co-ed)?
- Where do Camp Kupugani campers come from?
- What kind of parents send their children to Camp Kupugani ("intentional parents")?
- With so many activities available, how do campers choose what to experience?
- Does the camp have any religious affiliation?
- What kind of housing does the camp have?
- How is the food at camp?
- Do you allow cell phones or Ipods?
- Okay, cell phones and Ipods are out, but what should I bring?
- How are counselors selected and what qualifications do they have?
- What is the camper to staff ratio?
- What if my child is on medication or requires medical attention?
- Should I be worried if my child is a bedwetter?
- What if my child gets homesick...should I be worried?
- Can my child call home?
- What can I do to minimize homesickness?
- We have family friends who may be interested in having their child come to Camp Kupugani with our child. Can you send them a packet?
- How do we get to camp?
- What does ACA-accredited mean?
- Can we tour the camp?
Our registration process is simple and fast. You can apply by doing one of the following:
- Click to go to our online application for girls or online application for boys.
- E-mail us at email@example.com for an application; download it, fill it out and either fax it with your deposit information to 1-815-738-2764, or mail it into our office with your deposit information.
- Call our office toll free at 1-866-471-4616 and we'll take care of your enrollment over the phone. Telephone enrollment requires a credit card to secure the space.
Enrollment is ongoing. Because space is limited, it is best to enroll as early as you can to ensure a space for your child.
Because we're different than any other program. We're intentionally diverse; we're intentionally empowering; and we're intentionally challenging.
Camp Kupugani focuses on the individual needs of each and every child. Our goal is to provide the safest, most rewarding, fun, and memorable summer experience possible. We offer a wide array of activities, top-notch staff members, and a caring, nurturing environment. We have fun, empower our campers, and enjoy nature, so if that's what you want, please join us! Our intentional, socially progressive program, is based on a 3-year skills-development curriculum focusing on child empowerment, diversity, and strengthening and appreciating individual identity while appreciating others. Campers returning each year learn a variety of skill sets including appreciation of diversity, communication skills, leadership, positive self and body image, economic literacy, healthy relationship building, self-expression, social awareness, and environmental awareness. The learning happens almost without knowing it. From our campers' viewpoint, they just have a great time making fantastic new friends while reconnecting with old ones. They enjoy activities like rock climbing, canoeing, playing under waterfalls, and night hikes under the stars, plus carefully designed group activities and games so that fun and personal growth coincide.
Our parent surveys reinforce that we're doing our task well. From our past 6 years of parent surveys, 99% of respondents were satisfied with their child's Camp Kupugani experience, and would recommend our camp to friends. From 2012, an overwhelming majority of parents noted their child's improvement in:
- Acknowledgment & Appreciation of Diversity
- Conflict Resolution Skills
- Personal Growth / Self Confidence
- Positive Self Image and Empowerment
- Leadership Skills
- Interpersonal Relationships
- Body Image and Health
- Social Awareness and Activism
Our camp provides social opportunities that can't be experienced in other venues. Social life elsewhere is not likely to provide wholesome, guided, and nurtured opportunities to make sincere friends and respect others. At camp, we're able to emphasize caring, respect, and guided socialization.
At camp, we redefine the word "supportive" and give children new perspectives on what daily life and an empowering community can be like for them. We believe that children deserve the chance to see that there is something different from the pressures that surround other environments. Life is not relentless competition, and there can be multiple forms of achievement and popularity among peers. At Camp Kupugani, they can have fun changing their world.
Less than a two-hour drive from Chicago, Illinois, and nestled within 120 acres of lush forests, Camp White Eagle is in Leaf River, Illinois. It is alongside the Leaf River in the northwestern part of the state near Wisconsin and Iowa. The Leaf River is a tributary of the Rock River; via the Rock, it is part of the Mississippi River watershed. Click here for a map!
Throughout the summer, northwest Illinois enjoys moderate temperatures with average highs, ranging from the mid-70s to the low 80s. Occasional rain showers ensure lush green forests and fields, while the regular warm sun-filled skies provide the perfect setting for playing in the waterfall or dipping in the pool. There are plenty of bright sunny days for activities of all sorts to take place around camp.
The Gordon family owns Camp Kupugani and Camp White Eagle. After years in the camp industry, they bought Camp White Eagle from the Devore family, who had operated Camp White Eagle since 1991. For the prior 40 years, it was operated by the 4H organization. Camp Kupugani is a privately owned, independent camp, accredited by the American Camp Association.
Q: What Is the Best Age to Come to Camp? How Do I Know My Child is Ready? How Do I Know I'm Ready as a Parent?
The camp decision should be driven by the child; the best age is when the child is "ready," which is typically between age 7 and 13. Camp Kupugani's program is tailored towards children from ages seven to fifteen, and we have new campers within all of those ranges who are eager to have a great camp experience.
A good progression for determining "readiness" is to start first with sleepovers at relative's houses, then sleepovers at non-relatives (i.e. school or neighborhood friends). When the child (and parents) are comfortable with that, then it's time for camp! There can and should still be some nervousness, since that's a normal part of growth. Also, the more the child can be involved in the decision-making process and reviewing information, the better. Checking out camp DVD or videos, pictures, visiting the camp and seeing what the facilities are like, are all beneficial to a would-be-camper's readiness and confidence.
For more help about considering a first-time camp experience, follow this link to our blog entry--10 Questions to Determine Whether Your Child is Ready for Sleepaway Camp.
You can also check out this link to our blog entry Encouraging Independence So Children Can Thrive.
We have found that a one-week experience is usually too short to facilitate the growth that stems from a two-week or longer session. For example, if a transition issue (i.e. homesickness) occurs in the first few days of a one-week session, the camper is just hitting stride by week's end, when s/he unfortunately then gets torn from a great empowering experience because the week is done. Or, what can sometimes happen in one week is that the camper arrives gung-ho and fades a little bit by the end of the week; that camper then leaves on an artificially down note, i.e. feels like s/he had a bad experience, but it really was just a camp experience that ended at an awkward time by not allowing her/him the time to work through it. Programatically, we also get to pack more fun and empowering camp adventures into a longer camp session! (For more on why one week isn't enough, check out our blog here.
If you are looking for more information on Boys Camp, click here.
Having a girls-only program allows us to address issues specific to girls and women. We follow a philosophy grounded in experiential education literature on girls' programs. One study from the Journal of Adventure Recreation and Education (2011) shows that girls have more opportunities to “be themselves” without having to impress campers of the opposite sex. In coed settings, girls (and women) tend to act differently when boys are around—reducing the girls’ skill-building opportunities. Without distractions, girls can be more comfortable, focused and establish more meaningful relationships. They feel supported and safe, without experiencing the pressure and competition that might exist in a coed camp. Girls are willing to try new things and develop positive relationships. The key is to create an intentional environment that focuses on girls' strengths (Whittington, Mack, Budbill, McKenney).
In keeping with these types of intentional practices, we provide space where girls can be girls—free from self-consciousness that might happen say at school, other social settings, or at a coed camp. Our girls are willing to try new things like dam jumping and rock climbing, and develop positive relationships with other girls in their cabin groups and teams. Our girls get to concentrate on skill-building, personal growth, and having fun changing their world!
Combining structured programming and purposeful free time in a supportive and comfortable community, we intentionally create an environment that focuses on girls’ strengths. We provide young women with a place to question cultural standards and increase opportunities for them to gain leadership skills. We include intentional relationship-building activities, teach communication and conflict resolution skills, and provide strong adult leadership from counselors selected from hundreds of applicants. Our talented counselor-facilitators are always attuned to the ever-evolving dynamics of our campers. In our all-girls camp, we’re able to challenge the girls both physically and emotionally, yet enhance their safety. If you are an intentional parent, you will appreciate that we continue the socially progressive lessons you seek for your daughter to empower herself and thrive!
To watch our webinar with 10 tips to empower girls, click here!
Our campers come from all over the country and the world! Campers have come from as far as Japan, China, Jordan, Germany, Spain, and Mexico, with others joining them from California, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin, in addition to girls from right here in Illinois. Our campers' ethnic backgrounds are a nice mix too--including Caucasian, African-American, Bi-racial, Hispanic/Latina, Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Native American; our young people embrace identities from everywhere! At Camp Kupugani our campers have it all!
A Camp Kupugani parent is, for the most part, an “intentional” parent. What exactly is an intentional parent? We see an intentional parent (just as our "intentional" counselors do) as one who is willing to do the very hard work of helping a child be the best the child can be. The intentional parent does a lot of giving: giving of time, giving of sleep, giving of money, giving of attention—generally, giving mightily of oneself. It is certainly not easy, and as far as we know, is not meant to be.
Every parent or caregiver—intentional or not—gives their child many things. Some of those “gifts” are things children might not necessarily want to receive (and/or parents don't necessarily want to bestow on children); our bad habits sometimes have a way of living on whether we want them to or not. Nonetheless, most gifts we choose to bestow on our kids.
Parental “gifts” say a lot about parents. Some just want to get through the child-rearing years with as little effort as possible...to survive, they will give the child whatever is demanded, so the kid will be quiet and stop bugging them, so that the parent can carry on with whatever the parent is focused on. Some choose to give their child the “in thing” or what's most popular, without necessarily considering whether that thing will be the most helpful. Some move through their children's worlds deliberately and purposefully; these parents give what is useful, after carefully thinking through what would be best.
That is an intentional parent. Easy? Certainly not. Going unrecognized? Probably. Helping to create a better world for their child and the world beyond them? For sure. That's an intentional parent.
Our daily schedule combines scheduled group activities and choice periods. Campers choose at least two individual activities daily, and we re-evaluate our group schedules continually to ensure that all of our campers are focusing on the activities they enjoy most. The camp as a community does an evening activity together.
In keeping with our multicultural focus and respect for each individual's belief system, we have campers of many different faiths and beliefs.
Campers live in wood-framed cabins within the woods of Camp White Eagle. Each cabin has been recently renovated, with insulation, interior wood siding, and solid, built-in wood bunks and drawers. Up to ten campers live in a cabin with two to three staff members who provide the care and attention for each cabin group. Campers wash up in nearby washhouses.
Meals at camp not only taste great, but are nutritious too! From local farms, we obtain cage-free, hormone-free eggs (Phil's Eggs) and meat (Sumner View Angus Farm) that are free of artificial hormones, and stock sodas (Hansen's) free of high fructose corn syrup in our camp store. All meals are served family-style in the dining hall where campers sit with their table group, enabling them to meet other members of the camp community by mixing it up with campers who are different from those in their cabin and team groups. Along with lots of food variety, we offer salad for lunch and dinner, and a limited vegetarian option if requested.
Because the whole point of our camp is to enjoy nature, facilitate communication, and empower children by developing those skills, we don't allow cell phones or Ipods, which diminish interpersonal interaction. A recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that children today are plugged into some kind of electronic medium almost eight hours a day--"more than many full-time jobs, and more time than they spend doing anything else besides sleeping." Recent research suggests that exposure to nature can improve all children's cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses and depression. Creativity is also stimulated by childhood experiences in nature.
We have a full packing list in our welcome packet to use as a guideline. Camp is about fun, so leave those fancy clothes at home and come prepared to get a little messy. River walks, mud volleyball, and rock climbing can get clothes dirty!
Our staff members are carefully selected from hundreds of applicants from throughout the United States and all over the world. Boasting a more selective percentage of hires to applicants than even Ivy League universities, we are extremely intentional in our hiring process, offering positions to only those truly committed to being a teacher, counselor, mentor, protector and friend to our campers. Prospective staff members undergo a rigorous screening and interview process to make sure that we hire only the best, most qualified individuals to be a part of our camp family. Staff members are CPR and First Aid certified.
As supervision is one of our top priorities, we maintain a ratio of better than 3 to 1. There are generally 2 counselors in a cabin of 7-10 campers. Additionally, there are program staff who live in central camp in our staff cabin. Also, owner/directors Kevin and Natasha live on camp, so there is plenty of supervised independence!
Camp Kupugani has a complete health center, with a nurse who handles the day-to-day services and needs. Our nurse keeps all medication and distributes it as prescribed by your doctor. You will be notified if your child has to stay overnight in the health center or needs any kind of medical attention beyond that provided by our nurse. If for some reason emergency services are required (beyond what can be treated at camp), 911 personnel's response time is about ten minutes, and the nearest hospital is just 20 minutes away.
Fortunately, unlike back in the day (when camp director Kevin wet his bed well into junior high), there are easy ways to manage bedwetting at camp—pull ups! There's a variety of ways that campers deal with them— with the majority going with full ownership. Some campers unabashedly wear them around the cabin when it's bedtime. Some put them on more subtly with their pajamas as part of the bedtime routine. Some are more shy and put them on in the bathroom. We honor each camper's comfort level, whatever their choice. If pull ups leak or,occasionally, if someone who should have been wearing pull ups doesn't, the circumstance gets dealt with routinely and unobtrusively by the counselors.
For more info and general tips on managing bedwetting at camp and at home, follow this link to our blog entry Should I Be Worried If My Child Is a Bedwetter
Missing home is normal. 95 percent of children who spend at least two weeks at overnight camp feel some degree of homesickness, which is typically mild. Nearly everyone misses something about home when they're away, be it their parents, home cooking, a sibling, or the family pet. Homesickness has a silver lining; if there's something that children miss about home, that means there's something about home that they love--and that's a wonderful thing. Whatever they miss, the vast majority of children has a great time at camp and is not bothered by mild homesickness. Overcoming a bout of homesickness and enjoying time away from home nurtures children's independence and prepares them for the future; the fact that second-year campers are usually less homesick than first-year campers evidences this powerful growth. Our caring staff members have been trained to help campers deal with homesickness should it arise.
Campers are generally not allowed to call home. Our experience with calls home is that they diminish the camper's move towards self-sufficiency, and do not help if there are issues of homesickness. You are welcome to call us any time of day or night to check up on how your child is doing. We also post hundreds of pictures daily to a password-protected website so you can see your camper's success for yourself!
At Camp Kupugani, we create the most nurturing, comforting environment possible, and with all of our activities and program structure, no child stays homesick for long. To further minimize homesickness, before coming to camp, you should:
- Make camp decisions together
- Arrange lots of practice time away from home
- Share your optimism, not your anxiety
- NEVER EVER make a pick-up deal
Q: We Have Family Friends Who May be Interested in Having Their Child Come to Camp Kupugani with our Child. Can You Send Them a Packet?
Absolutely! Click here to send us an e-mail with your name, their name, their address, their phone number and the names and ages of their children. We'll send out a packet, which includes all of our current information. If your friend enrolls their child in camp, you'll receive a 5% tuition credit per enrolled camper.
Transportation to camp is easy and convenient. If you would like to drop your child off at camp, we can provide you with directions or you can access them here. We can also arrange for pick-ups at our local airports or bus station. When flying to camp, we suggest using the Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, which allows for the most flexibility of flight options.
ACA Accreditation means that we submitted to a thorough (almost 300 standards) review of our operations by the American Camp Association (ACA) -- from staff qualifications and training to emergency management. American Camp Association collaborates with experts from The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth service agencies to assure that current practices at the camp reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. We and the ACA form a partnership that promotes summers of growth and fun in an environment committed to safety.
ACA helps all accredited camps provide:
- Healthy, developmentally-appropriate activities and learning experiences
- Discovery through experiential education
- Caring, competent role models
- Service to the community and the environment
- Opportunities for leadership and personal growth
A: Absolutely! During the summer, we are happy to offer camp tours to prospective camp families. It provides a perfect opportunity for you and your child to get a first hand look at the camp in operation. You can schedule a tour by contacting our office toll free at 1-866-471-4616.