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Help Kids Understand Consent & Prevent Sexual Assault

Camp Director Kevin Gordon recently read Chessy Prout’s I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope, documenting her title story.  It raised for Kevin the issue of the importance of people of ages learning about and respecting the issue of consent.

Indeed, at Camp Kupugani, our overnight summer camp about two hours west of Chicago and 90 minutes south of Madison, a top priority is the safety of our campers.  Safety relates to physical and emotional safety, and the autonomy and respect of one’s own body and the bodies of others. A recent Washington Post article emphasized: “While sexual assault has many complex causes, one clear factor is young people’s comprehension of — or confusion about — what constitutes appropriate, consensual sex.”  It elucidated some ways parents can address consent and how to minimize the occurrence of sexual abuse. Bullets below, with the full article here.

  • Clearly define assault and provide concrete examples.
    • Assault is an action without the consent of the other person.
    • Provide examples based on your child’s age and maturity.
    • Ask your child for their definition of assault, following up by correcting any misunderstanding.
    • Check in to confirm the retention of the information.
  • Talk about — and keep talking about — consent.
    • Consent is verbal and affirmative.
    • Start young, by asking for permission to hug, or touch someone.
    • Give your child control over their body.
      • Don’t force them to hug or kiss grandma if they don’t want to.
      • Provide alternatives with which your child may be more comfortable.
      • Give younger kids language they understand (Green, yellow, red light).
  • Give boys permission to talk about strong emotions.
    • Feelings of helplessness can result in unwanted physical or sexual contact.
    • Remind your children that all emotions have a purpose.
    • Use examples from TV shows or films that can elicit conversation.
  • Encourage young people to be allies and upstanders.
    • Empower your child with the “see something, say something” attitude.
    • Ask what they “would do” vs. “should do”.
    • Brainstorm strategies on how to support a peer who has been or is involved in a abusive relationship.
  • Share the stories of survivors.
    • Real life experiences are powerful.
    • These stories can help increase empathy and understanding of consent.
    • Help your child brainstorm people to whom they can speak.

Original source: The Washington Post


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11 Ways To Be an Even More Amazing Parent

At Camp Kupugani, our Midwest summer camp nestled in the woods about two hours west of Chicago and ninety minutes south of Madison, we appreciate the parents who value our camp experience enough to send their child to camp summer after summer!  Given that our camp parents are already AMAZING and FANTASTIC, we culled some articles for a few ways that we can step up our parental game to become even more amazing and/or fantastic! Bullets below, with the full articles from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree here and here.

  • Connect!
    • Be aware of the mood/timing.
      • If someone is in the “reactive phase,” they are not ready to be receptive.
    • Communicate Comfort
      • Help your children know you are a safe person to whom they can express themselves.
    • Validate
      • Remind your child that all emotions are good (but not necessarily all actions).
    • Listen
      • We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
    • Reflect
      • Repeat what they said and how they said they feel.
  • Reduce Words
    • Who likes a lecture? (NOT ME!)
    • Help your child express their feelings in a safe way.
  • Embrace Emotions
    • Allow your child to express any/all emotions.
    • Remind that emotions don’t have consequences. (Although actions can…)
  • Describe, don’t preach.
    • Bring attention to the action/emotion without giving answers.
    • Ask open-ended questions rather than giving answers.
  • Involve your child in any needed redirections.
    • You guessed it…use open-ended questions!
      • How could they have handled the situation differently?
        • Gets them to think internally about their actions.
      • How did this behavior impact others?
        • This question helps to build empathy
      • The solution has to be realistic.
        • Needs to be something the child can do
      • The solution needs to be mutually satisfactory.
        • All parties should leave feeling heard.
    • It should be a conversation, not a judgment.
      • This helps the child feel heard and involved in the process
  • Reframe a “No” Into a Conditional “Yes”.
    • “You can do “x” after homework” rather than “no more TV ‘til homework is done.”
  • Emphasize the Positive.
    • Focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want.
    • Recognize success.
  • Creatively Approach the Situation
    • Laughter can diffuse even the greatest conflict.
    • This helps not only your child’s response but yours as well.
  • Teach Mindfulness.
    • Helps your child experience, observe, and learn from her/his emotions.
    • Mindfulness can help diffuse behaviors by drawing your child’s attention inward.
  • If there’s an issue, assume your child is lacking skills not being intentionally defiant.
    • Identify what led up to the undesirable behavior.
      • Patterns emerge if you pay close enough attention.
      • Solving the underlying issue helps prevent future negative behavior.
  • But I’m The Parent! (This rarely works long term!)
    • Imposing your will upon your child teaches nothing (except that might makes right).
    • How you handle something may not work for your child.
    • Be a teacher, not an enforcer.

Adapted from original source: Barking Up The Wrong Tree


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See Other People’s Kids as 3-Dimensional Humans

At Camp Kupugani, our multicultural overnight summer camp two hours west of Chicago and 90 minutes south of Madison here in the beautiful Midwest, each child is treated as an individual. From arrival, each camper is individually recognized whether a first-timer or a 5-year Kupugani veteran.  We celebrate and appreciate each child, trying to meet them where they are, while simultaneously challenging them to become even better.

Each child deserves to start with a clean slate.  Often, one encounters adults saying things along the lines of: “oh, that kid, s/he did this or that”, or “that kid is [this certain way]”. It can be challenging to take those comments with a grain of salt and allow the child to show who they want to be, free of externally-imposed limitations. When we put children into a box framed by the perception of others or ourselves, we limit that child’s ability to show us other aspects unlimited by negative preconceptions. Seeing children fully

A recent Washington Post article recognizes the magic that happens when adults see other people’s kids as three-dimensional humans; bullets below, with the full article here.

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover.
    • Make sure to see all sides of the child.
    • Never “write off” a child off, especially before you give them a real chance.
    • Don’t characterize a single outburst as representing the entirety of that person’s attitude.
  • Don’t take other people’s perceptions too seriously.
    • Don’t use stereotypes to judge a child.
    • Think about how you would want people to look at your child.
    • Check your perspective at the door.
    • No child only has one side to them.
  • Look for the positive aspects in each person.
    • Be patient as you uncover hidden gems within each child.
    • When you do find the positive, don’t stop there; you are sure to unearth more great things!
  • Look for character traits, not physical aspects.
    • Children deserve to be seen for what they do, not how they look.
    • Physical attributes carry a lot of stereotypes that may not match the individual.

Adapted from source material from: Washington Post


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6 Ways to Avoid Punishing Children for Being Human

At Camp Kupugani, our premier Midwest summer camp (near Chicago), we treat our minor campers with the same respect we treat our adult co-workers, friends, or family.  A recent article by the folks at Creative Child brought to light that children are sometimes “Punished for Being Human.”  As part of intentional empowerment process, we do not solve problems for our campers; we support them to handle situations at their maturity level. Child punished for being human

A well-intentioned parental mistake is for one to tell a child, “Stop crying, you are fine!”  This can apply to a hurt limb or hurt feeling. How we might handle such a situation at camp for example, regarding homesickness, is…instead of telling a child, “stop crying, you are fine,” we instead help them process what might be making them feel homesick. This facilitates coping with feelings in a healthy way, feeling heard, and giving actions and value to the feelings, which in turns helps a child cope in a developmentally positive and healthy manner.

For bullets on how to treat our kiddos with positivity and respect, check out below.  The whole article is available here.

  • Children need to learn about emotions
    • Focus on all emotions
    • Express that all emotions are okay to feel
    • Children may not know how to process certain emotions
    • Give examples of how to handle certain emotions
    • Practice make perfect!
  • Talk with your kids to get to the bottom of behavior
    • Behavior rarely just happens
    • All behaviors constitute learning opportunities
  • Children learn from what they see
    • Children learn how to handle emotions by watching
    • Give your child a positive example to follow
  • Control your own emotions when your child is emotional
    • Don’t try and rush the conversation
    • Allow yourself and your child to calm down
    • Time can make big problems seem smaller
  • Give your child time
    • Do not push them to change overnight
    • Support any growth you notice even if it seems “small”
  • Do your own emotional inventory
    • How do you speak with people who work in the service industry?
    • How do you act when you do not get something you desire?
    • Do you raise your voice to make your point known?

Source: Creative Child



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13 Ways to Help Our Children Be More Patient and Less Lonely

At, Camp Kupugani, our multicultural overnight summer camp in the beautiful Midwest (and close to Madison, WI, and Chicago, IL), helping our campers feel connected and cared for are top priorities. We do this by facilitating children’s spending time being electronics-free, connecting with peers from different backgrounds and age groups, and enjoying unstructured time in nature.  A recent article from Your Modern Family discusses why our children are less focused and more lonely; Bored childrenbullets below, and the rest of the article here.

  • Let kids be bored!
    • Boredom helps your child ponder creative ways to engage him/herself.
    • Giving kids chances to be bored helps them work through this issue by themselves.
  • Let them be resourceful.
    • Let your child use your pots and pans as a drum set.
    • Help your child with imagination to create amazing things out of everyday objects.
  • Let them PLAY in real life.
    • Have play dates at your house with friends without technology.
    • Present board/card games that elicit creativity and silliness.
  • Let them lose.
    • Losing helps kids learn that they are not going to always win in life.
    • It helps them see what skills they need to work on.
    • It reminds children that rewards generally have to be earned (and feel better that way!)

As parents, we play a big role in shaping how our kids will act as adults. See below for a few tips on what we can do as parents to help our children become the best versions of themselves.

  • Ten Minutes a Day…
    • Spend time playing with your kid without electronics
      • Play outside
      • Play cards
      • Draw
  • Teach them to do things for pride in themselves and the activity itself.
    • Don’t play into the “punishing by rewards” model
    • If they do it because they want to, they get greater joy out of the actual task rather than the reward.
  • Talk
    • Ask your child about his/her day.
    • Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation moving.
    • Ask silly questions to help with imagination.
  • Give Responsibilities
    • Start age-appropriate chores young.
    • Have your child(ren) take greater responsibility as they get older.
  • Bedtime
    • Sleep is super important to your child’s development.
    • Routines help kids know expectations.
  • Set Electronic Boundaries
    • Boundaries at a young age help them to appreciate boundaries when older.
    • Keep electronics out of the bedroom!
  • Be there for them
    • Don’t just say you are there for them; SHOW them!
    • Help your child work through tough emotions.
  • Put down YOUR phone
    • This helps to keep you present in activities and conversations.
    • Limiting distractions helps you to be more productive with your time.
  • Teach by Example
    • Model appropriate screen time.
    • Show your child how to express feelings appropriately.
    • Children learn much better with the “do as I do and say as I say” model rather “than do as I say, not as I do”.

Adapted from


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10 Reasons Pre-Teens Need Less Social Media

Here at Camp Kupugani, our multicultural overnight summer camp about two hours west of Chicago (and less than 90 minutes south of Madison, WI), our campers appreciate the importance of tech-free time. They do this while at camp (and hopefully carry the momentum) to apply this when they get home. There was a recent article from TODAY Parenting Team community discussing why middle schoolers don’t need social media. Check below for bullets and see the full article hereTweens on Phones

  • Social media was not designed for children.
    • Snapchat, Instagram all were originally designed for adult use.
  • You cannot teach the maturity that social media requires…
    • NO matter how good of a parent you are…
    • With age and more real world social interactions and experience comes knowledge of how to appropriately use social media.
  • Social media is an entertainment technology.
    • Kids need less technology-based entertainment.
    • Kids need to be “bored”!
  • Social media expertise neither makes your child smarter nor better prepared for real life or future employment.
    • NO social media is designed to increase knowledge or job skills!
  • A tween’s “more is better” mentality is a toxic blend with social media.
    • Friends on social media are rarely true friends.
    • Social status can be linked to the amount of “likes” on a given picture leading to distorted self-esteem.
  • Social media is an addictive form of screen entertainment.
    • Children are prone to addiction.
    • Give them options that are better for them, like creative play or the arts.
  • Social media replaces learning the hard social “work” necessary for success.
    • Children see social media “stars” becoming famous in a short period of time and attribute to them an unearned, unrealistic sense of grandeur.
    • Children lose valuable time practicing practical social skills face-to-face.
  • Social media can cause teens to lose connection with family.
    • More time is spent connecting with digital friends than actual family.
    • Middle-schoolers need a family connection for greater well-being.
  • Social media use represents lost potential for teens.
    • They miss out on finding new things they may enjoy.
    • Time is lost furthering other productive or creative skills.
  • Do any of us wish we had started using social media earlier?
    • Have any of us honestly said, “I wish social media was around when I was a kid”?

This post has been adapted from the TODAY Parenting Team community.


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Good Intentions & Bad Ideas Setting Up for Failure

At Camp Kupugani, our overnight Midwest summer camp (located two hours west of Chicago), we empower our campers to be independent both at camp and home. While reading a book called Coddling Of the American Mind, camp director Kevin Gordon came across some interesting excerpts. Read below for some ways we as parents inhibit our children’s ability to fend for themselves. Check out the book’s website for more details by clicking here.

We should allow our kids to struggle on their own and avoid trying to “fix” or “manage” everything for them.

  • “So many teens have lost the ability to tolerate distress and uncertainty, and a big reason for that is the way we parent them.” – p. 163 (quoting Kevin Ashworth, clinical director, NW Anxiety Institute in Portland, Oregon.)

We should provide children the tools and knowledge to safely experiment with risk.

  • “We should all take reasonable precautions to protect our children’s physical safety—for example, by owning a fire extinguisher—but we should not submit to the pull of safetyism (overestimating danger, fetishizing safety, and not accepting any risk), which deprives kids of some of the most valuable experiences in childhood.” – p. 164
  • “By placing a protective shield over our children, we inadvertently stunt their growth and deprive them of the experiences they need to become successful and functional adults.” – p. 170

Challenges, confrontation, mistakes, and risk are good for children’s development.

  • “Although kids are naturally antifragile…to damage their development…over-monitor and overprotect them, denying them the thousands of small challenges, risks, and adversities that they need to face on their own in order to become strong and resilient adults.” – p. 176

Differing opinions should be welcomed, even when it feels challenging…perhaps especially when challenging.  We don’t need to personalize conflict and can instead practice useful conflict resolution.

  • “In an optimally functioning dignity culture, people are assumed to have dignity and worth regardless of what others think of them, so they are not expected to react too strongly to minor slights…In a dignity culture…people are expected to have enough self-control to shrug off irritations, slights, and minor conflicts as they pursue their own projects…Perspective is a key element of a dignity culture; people don’t view disagreements, unintentional slights, or even direct insults as threats to their dignity that must always be met with a response.” – p.209-210

To effect social change, we need to be mindful of others’ perception of justice.  

  • “Intuitive justice involves perceptions of distributive justice (as given by equity theory) and procedural justice. If you want to motivate people to support a new policy or join a movement in the name of justice, you need to activate in them a clear perception, or intuition, that someone didn’t get what they deserve (distributive injustice) or that someone was a victim of an unfair process (procedural injustice). If you can’t elicit at least one of those feelings, then people are much more likely to be content with the status quo, even if it is one in which some people or groups end up with more resources or more status than others.” -p. 220

Justice means equality of opportunity, not necessarily equality of outcomes.

  • If activists embrace the equal-outcomes form of social justice—if they interpret all deviations from population norms as evidence of systemic bias—then they will get drawn into endless and counterproductive campaigns, even against people who share their goals. – p. 230


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10 Ways to Ease the Homework Struggle with your Child

At Camp Kupugani, our overnight summer camp in the beautiful Midwest (just two hours northwest of Chicago), we recognize that great campers often make great students, who often become great adults.  As child development professionals, we recognize that it’s sometimes a challenge to navigate the craziness of parenting! A recent article from the Washington Post elucidated some of the challenges and proposed ten ways to take the struggle out of homework.

Kids procrastinate or shut down because they fail to see the relevance of a task, prefer other distractions, or struggle with comprehension, organization or motivation. And nagging isn’t going to work.  “Kids want a voice, and many would rather have the reputation of being forgetful or irresponsible than admit they don’t know what they’re doing.” With a little creativity, though, parents can help kids overcome those barriers to productivity. Read below for 10 ways to encourage kids to approach homework with more confidence and less conflict.  Click here to read the full article.

  • Establish routines and discourage bad habits
    • Choose a place where your child can do homework without distractions.
    • Do homework at a set time each day.
    • Find the best way your child works
      • With a planner?
      • By themselves in a quiet space?
      • Close to a family member that can motivate them?

  • Name and tame negative voices
    • Name negative voice to help identify that they are only a small part of the conversation.
    • Help your child to use positive self-talk.
    • Create ways that when they hear negative self-talk to reshape the conversation.

  • Dress for success
    • Let them choose “work clothes”.
      • Thinking cap or glasses
    • Have items ready and in the child-selected learning places.

  • Let school be “the bad guy”
    • If your child is struggling,  inform her/his teachers.
      • They may be able to brainstorm ways to help your child
      • They may offer to do the work at school
    • This can help your child confront issues with adults.

  • Give kids options, but inspect what you expect
    • Allow your child to choose the order she/he does her/his work.
    • Allow your child to talk with the teacher themselves.
    • Check in on work completion.
    • Confirm with the teacher via email the child talked with them.

  • Introduce physical breaks
    • Use physical fitness to help energize your child.
    • Have your child go outside after a set amount of problems or a subject is finished.
    • Introduce mindfulness tasks.
      • Kneading dough?
      • Blowing bubbles?
      • Hand-eye coordination based tasks?


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Empowering Children to Minimize the Potential of Abuse

Unfortunately, child abuse occurs with unnecessary frequency in the U.S.  A video recently aired reporting sexual abuse at American summer camps. We are concerned to hear of child abuse and appreciate courageous children who report abusive treatment.  Indeed, as stated in the video, “parents need to do the work, have the conversation with your children, and be aware.” Our number one priority at camp is the safety of each child.  Below are just a few ways we protect your children while at camp and some family resources to minimize the potential of abuse.

Minimizing the potential of child abuse is a responsibility shared among caregivers, children, and child-serving institutions.

For parents and caregivers, we recommend The Safe Child Book: A Commonsense Approach to Protecting Children and Teaching Children to Protect Themselves.  This book offers positive, concrete guidance about personal safety tools families can use and teach to children; it also helps caregivers practice safety skills with their children by using a variety of “what if” questions.  It has chapters on abuse, bullying, staying safe online, and choosing childcare providers.

In “The Summer Camp Handbook,” first published in 2000 and revised in 2015, Dr. Jon Malinowski and Dr. Chris Thurber included a section about how parents should talk with kids about safe and unsafe touch, how to thwart inappropriate advances, and how to seek the help of a trusted adult.  See the link below and share it widely:…/family-discussions-about-safe…/

Specifically for children, we recommend “Inoculating Your Children Against Sexual Abuse.”  A free tip sheet based on this book can be viewed on the Stop It Now! website here:

Institutions that serve children (i.e. schools, religious organizations, camps, youth sports teams, etc.) have important obligations, including: (1) employing methods to minimize the potential of potential child abusers entering the organization, (2) having processes in place to minimize the potential access to abuse opportunities, and (3) empowering the children they serve via educational and other measures so the kiddos can avoid and/or report instances of abuse.  Be sure to know the procedures in place where your child frequents.

Places that work with children hold a responsibility to ensure people that have intentions of harming children are not employed. These should include speaking with references pre-hire, and training employed staff on child abuse prevention techniques and the signs of an abuser.  The institutional culture should be such that it is both against the rules and counter to the institutional culture for an adult to be alone with a child; thereby, people who might be past or future abusers do not gain individual access to a child. This ongoing abuse minimization fosters a culture where all employees are involved in the safety of others.   

Institutions can also help to keep children safe by making sure they know what constitutes safe touch, how to report an incident, and reminding them they should not be alone with an adult who is not their parent/guardian. Each child should have someone they can speak to about any issue or feelings. Each person at a child-serving organization has a responsibility to ensure each child is safe and cared for.

Kupugani minimizes the potential of abuse via camp procedures before, during, and after camp. As an American Camp Association (ACA) accredited camp, we adhere to over 300 best practices standards, including how to hire/interview staff, and training on abuse recognition and prevention. (Some of those resources can be found at this link:

Our hiring/vetting process at camp maximizes the potential of our staff providing a safe learning environment for our campers. Only after their applications are reviewed, the most qualified applicants undergo a video screening interview. The best of those screenings are interviewed in-person, followed by camp’s speaking with at least three professional and personal references. Staff also undergo criminal and sex offense background checks by a third party company. (International cultural exchange staff meet the same standards through each of the three longstanding placement agencies that we consider.)

Staff are trained on abuse prevention and recognition remotely before they arrive at camp, in-person during our two-week training time, and throughout the summer during daily staff meetings on abuse prevention and recognition (along with other child-centered topics). One of the required pre-arrival remote courses is entitled “Safe Touch & Safe Talk,”  facilitated by renowned child psychologist and industry veteran Dr. Chris Thurber.

During camp, we focus on empowering our campers so that we have a culture where children can feel safe. From camp’s inception in 2006, we have had a strict “rule of 3” policy, of which we regularly remind our campers and staff. (The American Camp Association officially adopted this standard a few years ago).  Via the “rule of three,” it is never okay for a child to be alone with an adult (who is not their parent/guardian).

We also emphasize our open-office communication policy, whereby everyone has the leeway to talk to anyone in the organizational structure. Because individuals connect differently with a range of others, each child has a variety of adults to whom they can speak, including camp owners and directors). Additionally, because even “open doors” sometime need a beneficial urging to come through, we daily emphasize our check-in policy.  Furthermore, halfway through the session, we administer an anonymous camper survey, so that administration can get another look into camp life and address any problems that might have come up.

On the last day of the session, campers are given another anonymous survey that helps us to ensure that campers felt safe and supported while at camp.  Additionally, we call each family after the summer sessions have wrapped up.

We will not allow fear to limit the growth and potential of our children; instead, education, transparency, and diligence help ensure that our rules and standards are followed by all staff and campers. Each camper is empowered to have a voice and use it.


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Takeaways from iGen 2018

Kevin Gordon, Director of Camp Kupugani in Leaf River, IL–located two hours west of Chicago–recently read Jean M. Twenge’s iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us. We recommend this book to any parent or potential parent that is struggling with: “When (or should) does my child get a smartphone?”; or “How much daily screen time should my child have?”; or “What harm does excessive screen time do to my child’s social, emotional, and mental well being? Check out the book here. See below for some excerpts. 

Too much screen time leads to greater loneliness, unhappiness, depression, and risk of suicide–especially in young teens.

  • Teens who spend more time on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time on non-screen activities are more likely to be happy. … If you were going to give advice for a happy life…it would be straightforward: put down the phone, turn off the computer or iPad, and do something—anything–that does not involve a screen. – p.77-78
  • One study [of college student Facebook users found that] the more they’d used Facebook, the unhappier they later felt.  However, feeling unhappy did not lead to more Facebook use. Facebook use caused unhappiness, but unhappiness did not cause Facebook use. – p.78-79
  • The risk of unhappiness due to social media use is the highest for the youngest teens. – p.79
  • Risks start to increase with screen time of two hours or more a day and go up from there, with very high levels of use (five or more hours) linked to considerably higher risks of suicide and unhappiness. This suggests that moderation, not necessarily a complete elimination of electronic devices from teens’ lives, is the key. – p. 84
  • [A]t least some of the sudden and large increase in depression has been caused by teens spending more time with screens. – p. 112

Being overly cautious and limiting opportunities for exploration for kids leads to stunted emotional growth and less resilience.  

  • Parental overprotection and hovering have made kids vulnerable because they don’t learn to solve problems on their own. – p .166
  • The safety obsession has meant stifling kids’ creativity and independence. – p. 166
  • Students whose parents displayed those characteristics [of continual supervision, stepping in to solve life problems, and not letting their children figure things out independently] (often known as “helicopter parents”) had lower psychological well-being and were more likely to be prescribed medication for anxiety and depression. – p. 113 Take our quiz to see if you are a helicopter parent by clicking here.
  • iGen’ers [may be] unprepared for adolescence and early adulthood due to their lack of independence. With iGen’ers less likely to work, manage their own money, and drive in high school, perhaps they are not developing the resilience that may come from doing things on their own. – p. 112

We should foster increased interpersonal interactions.

  • Many parents see teens’ in-person social activities as potentially unsafe. We all want to protect our kids, and we all need to have rules limiting what teens can do. The problem is that many parents have restricted an activity that has numerous benefits (in-person social interaction) while putting few limits on an activity devoid of most of those benefits (electronic communication). Teens may be physically safer with electronic communication, but that choice may come at the expense of their mental health. Parents are worried about the wrong thing. – p. 299
  • Teens who spend more time with their friends in person are happier, less lonely, and less depressed, while those who spend more time on social media are less happy, lonelier, and more depressed. [In-person time] protect[s] against loneliness and depression. – p. 299
  • A few studies have already shown that teens who communicate face-to-face, without electronic devices, have better social skills, such as reading emotion on others’ faces. – p. 299
  • iGen’ers who hole up with their devices more and see their friends in person less will have more trouble with these social skills. As with everything, practice makes perfect. So parents: your teen going out with her friends is not a waste of time—it’s an investment in her future. – p. 299

Here are some strategies for helping your teen prepare for an easier transition to their eventual “adulting”.

  • If you’re the parent of a teen and want him to learn more independence before he goes to college, there are a few things you can do.  First, relax curfews and rules about going out with friends; he will gain social skills and independence from those experiences. Second, insist he gets a driver’s license; stop driving him around. As much as possible, put aside your worries. Teens are safer drivers than ever and are much less likely to get into accidents or even get tickets. -p. 303
  • Alcohol is an even more fraught issue, and there is no one solution. More young people are arriving at college without much experience with alcohol and then colliding with the college party culture of binge drinking. … Have a real conversation about what many college parties are like and how to stay safe. – p. 303
  • Having the tough conversations about things like sex, alcohol and the like help children to have the proper facts. Some have suggested that a “gap year” between high school and college might be one solution to the mental health issues and lack of adult experience among college students. A gap year provides time to work, travel, volunteer, and generally grow up. – p. 304

Here are a few methods to achieve a healthier, happier lifestyle.

  • Mimicking the lifestyle of our caveman ancestors is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and depression. The six-part program includes sunlight exposure, exercise, a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, avoiding rumination, getting enough sleep, and engaging in in-person social interaction. – p. 300
  • A better approach to a controversial opinion might be to discuss it, ignore it, or develop logical arguments against it. That goes even for opinions that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic: there are logical arguments against racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. If young people (and the rest of us) react to such opinions with tears and statements of feeling unsafe, things won’t change much. If we instead argue against such views, we can destroy them. The tide of history is against prejudice; the battle is being waged, and usually won every day. – p. 306


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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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