Phone: (815) 713-4110 | 6903 West White Eagle Road, Leaf River, IL 61047


Ways Technology Influences Your Child’s Behavior

At our Midwest summer camp, we minimize electronics during camp sessions, to empower our campers to maximize their social development.  A recent blog from the good folks at Intelligence for your Life, underscored how electronics influence children’s behavior. Children on smartphones Bullets below, with the whole piece available at this link.

  • Developmental psychiatrist Dr. Sara Konrath says that kids today consume three times more screen-based media than they did 50 years ago.

  • They also score 40 percent lower on tests that measure empathy and compassion for others. 

  • Videogames are especially harmful because the on-screen violence desensitizes kids to real-world suffering.

  • Social media robs kids of the opportunity to learn how to interpret how others feel by using tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language.

  • Experts recommend no more than two hours a day for school-aged kids. (And zero screen time for children under two years old…)

  • Make sure your children exercise the social parts of their brain by spending a lot of time interacting with and playing with other kids.


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How to Be a Better Parent: 3 Counterintuitive Lessons from Science

At our summer camp near Chicago, we continually try to improve how we as staff and counselors can positively influence our campers. An article from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree offers a few good parental tips.  Summary below, with the whole article at the link at the bottom.

1) Peer Pressure Can Be A Good Thing

Myth: Peer pressure is always bad, just leading kids to drinking, drugs and vandalism.

Fact: The same instinct that makes some kids so vulnerable to peer pressure also makes them better students, friends and, eventually, partners.

2) It’s Okay — Even Good — To Fight In Front Of Your Kids

Myth: It’s bad for kids to see their parents fighting.

Fact: It’s good for kids to see parents fight — as long as they also see them resolve the problem. This is how children learn to stand up for themselves while also preserving a relationship.

3) Teens Who Argue Are Good Teens

Myth: Teens who argue are rebellious and need to learn their place.

Fact: Teens need to learn to negotiate and they need to be rewarded for being reasonable. Parents with zero tolerance for “talking back” teach kids that lying is the only way to get what you want.

How To Be A Better Parent: 3 Counterintuitive Lessons From Science


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10 Powerful Things You Can Say To Your Kids

At our Chicago area summer camp, we’re aware of the importance of empowering children.  When the Pew Research Center showed parents across America a list of 10 skills and asked, “Which of these skills is most important for a child to get ahead in the world today?”, the winner, by a landslide, was communication.  Not only was it chosen as the most important, but it beat out such traditional favorites as reading, writing, teamwork and logic.

Communication for kids starts with their parents and it is important to make sure that our kids have not only a direct line of communication with us, but a healthy one. Listed below are 10 powerful things you can, and should often say to your kid.

Summary below (from the folks at, with the whole article available at this link.

  1. I like you.
  2. You’re a fast learner.
  3. Thank you.
  4. How about we agree to…
  5. Tell me more.
  6. Let’s read.
  7. We all make mistakes.
  8. I’m sorry.
  9. What do you think?
  10. Yes.


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4 Ways to Create an Awesome Kid

When we’re at our girls-only, boys-only, and blended summer camps near Chicago, we see quite a few awesome kids, and do our best at creating an environment to maximize their development. Below are some good tips on how to help your child be the most awesome s/he can be! stay stress-free. Summary below (from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree), with the whole article available at this link

  • Work on yourself: Increasing your own happiness and reducing your stress have big effects on your kids.
  • Autonomy: Want them to be successful adults? Make sure they have a say in what they do — starting now.
  • Communicate: Family meals make a big difference. Tell them their family history. More arguing means less lying.
  • Community: Their peers have more influence they you do. Make sure Grandmom is around if you want compassionate children.

One last thing you need to keep in mind if you want a close relationship with the kiddos:

Love. Don’t just be guider, protector and enforcer. Kids are nearly 50% more likely to feel close to those who show them affection.


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How to Minimize the Effects of Gender Bias on Your Daughter

At our girl summer camp programs near Chicago, we have always been about empowering young women.  As we put it, we exist for girls as they are so they imagine the women they can become.

Lynn Johnson of Go Girls! wrote a recent blog detailing how gender bias negatively impacts young women.  Below are some takeaways from the article, with tips on how you can minimize the effects of gender bias.  Gender biasThe whole piece is available at this link:

  • 65% of Americans believe that women are more compassionate leaders than men
  • Women comprise only about 20% of state and national legislators
  • 40% of teen boys and 23% of teen girls prefer males over females in powerful positions, such as politics
  • There are more white men named Jim in the California legislature than black and Asian-American women combined.

What to do?

  • Become aware of your own biases.
  • Cultivate family practices that prevent and reduce bias.
  • Teach teens to spot and effectively confront stereotypes and discrimination.
  • Don’t just let “boys be boys.”
  • Challenge teens’ biased assumptions and beliefs.
  • Use programs and strategies that build girls’ leadership skills.


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4 Ways to be a Great Parent

Although I’m still waiting for my imaginary go to guide on how to be a great parent (I’m thinking it must be lost in the mail for the last 11 years or so…), I’ve tried to do my best by my son.  

Here are some good tips from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree.  Summary below, with the full article available at this link.

  • Gardener not carpenter: Your job is to provide a safe space to grow, not to systematically build Frankenstein.
  • Under 6, they need play: Having an imaginary friend who happens to be a dragon named “Larry” is a good thing.
  • School-age kids need teaching: Help them build skills. Cooking, good. Bartending, not so good.
  • Teenagers need apprenticeships: They need to learn how to learn without you. And that means real world experience.


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Why Spanking Is Bad for Child Development

I still have fond memories of hanging out in the back of our family station wagon, without a seatbelt, looking at the drivers immediately behind our vehicle. Many of us growing up in that era also remember well-meaning parents who spanked us. Although many easily appreciate the wisdom and safety regarding current child seatbelt laws, some struggle with whether spanking is still a good idea. Child being spanked

Our summer camp near Chicago is always focused on positive child development. So we encourage some potentially reluctant parents (including—according to a recent NBC News poll—the majority of Americans who believe spanking is “sometimes appropriate.”) to check out recent research studies, elucidated in a recent article at Bullets below, with the whole article available at this link:

  • The majority of people over 30 likely grew up getting spanked at least occasionally

  • In many cases, being spanked made kids more rebellious.

  • According to a recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology analyzing five decades of spanking research, children who are spanked often are “more likely to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems, and cognitive difficulties.”

  • The more often adults were spanked as children, the more likely they were to later develop a host of negative outcomes, including mental health issues.

  • Spanking was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance.

  • The negative effects of spanking correlate with those of physical abuse in childhood.


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6 Ways to Keep Your Family Happy

During beautiful summer days at camp, within our Midwest summer camp community, the challenge of keeping our camp family happy is not overwhelming.   Hanging out in nature, playing with friends, and enjoying the beautiful weather are almost guaranteed to keep one happy.  

When not at camp, it might take a little more intentionality to maintain family harmony.  Below are some good scientifically-backed research tips on ways to keep your family happy longterm. happy-family Summary below (from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree), with the whole article available at this link

  • Create a family mission statement
  • Share your family history
  • Hold weekly family meetings
  • Fight fair
  • Have family dinner together
  • Just try!


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4 Warning Signs Your Child Might Be Being Bullied

At  all times, and especially during Anti-Bullying Month, we should be aware of how our children are doing socially. imagesAt summer camps for kids, it can be easier to see if bullying behaviors are present.  The challenge can be at home, where much social behavior takes place away from families or online. Here are 4 useful warning signs that a child might be being bullied:

  • Frequent headaches
  • A drop in grades (even in just one subject)
  • Being upset after social events
  • Excessive concern about being popular

A link to a full article from is here.


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How To Never Have to Argue with Your Kids (Or Anyone)

At our summer camp in the Midwest, we work on conflict resolution techniques to help empower our campers and staff. A recent blog from the good folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree, a blog offering cool life tips, emphasized a few ways that we can use to never have to argue with your kids (or anyone). download Bullets are below, with the full blog available at this link.

  • Listen With Full Attention: Everyone needs to feel understood; kids are no different.
  • Acknowledge Their Feelings: Paraphrase what they said. Don’t say you understand, show them you do.
  • Give Their Feelings A Name: “Sounds like you feel this is unfair.” It calms the brain.
  • Ask Questions: You want to resolve their underlying emotional needs, not get into a logical debate.


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Kupugani touches on all the core values and enrichment that we hope to instill in our [child]. My husband and I absolutely love Camp Kupugani. Our [child] gained immensely from camp.

Lisa G.

Everyone…was just so, so personable, kind, and the kind of person I want
my [child] looking up to and spending time with.

Laura V.

[My daughter’s] face lights up when she speaks about camp, it’s a priceless experience.

Kenya P.

I have never come in contact with such a wonderful group of people at a camp before. Everyone did an outstanding job, the camp was so organized, it was unbelievable.

Joe M.

She absolutely loves the camp, the staff, and all the friends she makes there. I consider Kupugani to be a big influence in helping her grow and expand her mind each summer.

Luci A.


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