Parenting Tips Blog Posts

10 Tips to Raise Environmentally-Conscious Children

At Camp Kupugani, our overnight summer camp that offers girls-only, boys-only, and blended (intentionally co-ed) programming, we try our best to be “green”.  We recycle, minimize water usage, and try to be cognizant of energy use. Especially as the results of our global unfriendliness to Mother Nature become increasingly apparent, it becomes more critical to have our children treat our world kindly.  A recent article has some good tips on how to raise an environmentally-conscious child; check out our bullets below, with the full article here.

  • Encourage a love for animals
    • Bonding with animals gives respect for all animals
    • Volunteer at the local animal shelter
  • Interact with nature
    • Take them outdoors
    • Have them attend a summer camp (wink wink)
  • Start a garden
    • Encourage a green thumb by giving them a small garden
    • Gardening helps to put one in a good mood
  • Plant trees
    • Can provide good exercise
    • Join/create groups to plant saplings around your community
  • Conserve water and food
    • Measure food waste at meals
    • Show them how important water and food are to our survival
  • Recycle waste
    • Teach kids about what can and can’t be recycled
    • Make recycling a habit that starts at home
  • Maintain cleanliness
    • Teach kids to use trash cans (not the ground)
    • Keep your house clean and they will keep the earth clean 
  • Join camps
    • Join camps that have a nature focus
  • Go natural
    • Use natural products at home
    • Help your children see the difference in products that are natural
  • Grow your own food
    • Use the food grown in your garden
    • Growing one’s own food helps foster a healthy diet

Source Article:


More Details

8 Ways to Empower Your Girl

In 2007, Camp Kupugani, our Midwest overnight summer camp (near Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin) started with a single two-week girls-only camp focused on the empowerment of young ladies. Although we now offer boys-only, blended (intentionally co-ed), and a girls-only session, we are continually mindful of our female empowerment focus. We want every family to feel powerfully connected with their girl(s). A recent article described eight things you should do to empower your girl; check out our bullets below, with the full article here.

  • Believe in her.
    • Be her biggest fan.
    • If she doesn’t think you believe in her, she won’t believe in herself.
  • Validate that her worth comes from within–not via performance, appearance, or external successes.
    • Express how proud of her you are for the things she does.
    • Extend grace when she messes up.
    • She needs to know regardless of the performance that she is loved and valued.
  • Model self-awareness and self-care.
    • Acknowledge your own emotions.
    • Verbalize your emotions and why you are feeling them.
      • Even if you do not know what you are feeling, be open about that.
  • Show her how to respect herself and be confident.
    • Be a good example for your daughter to follow.
    • Show her how to respect herself.
  • Spend time with her.
    • Take her on mother-daughter dates (see our Pinterest page here for ideas).
    • Use chores as a way to spend time and teach your daughter lifelong skills.
    • Create traditions specific to your daughter(s) to help her feel special.
  • Give her space to make mistakes.
    • We can’t (and shouldn’t) try and stop children from making mistakes.
    • Our daughters need to learn to make good choices and live a responsible life; they won’t learn that without messing up. 
      • Support them in the ups and downs.
      • Setting the unattainable goal of perfection is the worst thing we can do.
      • Don’t force your beliefs upon your daughter(s).
  • Speak the truth about yourself and teach her to do the same.
    • Negative self-talk is harmful, especially to young children
    • If your daughter(s) says something negative about herself, have her say three positive things about herself.
  • Give her permission to disagree and say “No.”
    • This is not to be confused with disrespect.
    • She needs to know that is okay to say “no,” and that the word “no” matters. 
    • If she doesn’t feel like her “no” is respected by a parent, she won’t develop the confidence to say no outside of the home. 

Source article: Hope in Affliction


More Details

If You Want Your Kids to Get Along, Avoid Doing These Six Things

Camp Kupugani is our residential summer camp located about two hours from downtown Chicago and 90 minutes away from Madison, Wisconsin. We are all about helping our campers get along, via practical models to conflict resolution models like “I Statements” and the “Clean-up”. Outside of camp, we also recognize that getting siblings or other children in the same household to get along can be challenging. A recent article lists some things to avoid doing to facilitate good connections. Bullets below, with the full article here.

  • Suggesting they race to do anything
    • Very confusing to children
    • Create time-limit challenges instead
  •  Comparing them to each other in any way, shape, or form
    • Can create negative feelings towards their siblings
    • Resentment can form from being embarrassed
  • Labeling or grouping your children
    • Labels cause children to want to fit that label even if it is not how they identify
    • Can cause the child to feel they cannot measure up if it is not within “their label
  • Punishing one in front of the other
    • Praise publicly; correct privately
    • Punishing can cause defensiveness when in front of siblings
    • Correcting privately limits embarrassment
  • Yelling at them for getting upset with each other
    • If we can’t control our emotions/actions, how can we expect them to do so?
    • Empathy can go a long way in solving/correcting the behavior
    • Phrase questions to help them understand the issue
  • Forcing them to share
    • Causes bitterness, not resolution
    • Bring it back to them to figure out a resolution 
    • Helps them develop important relationship skills

Source Article:


More Details

8 Ways to Address Your Child’s Challenging Behavior

Camp Kupugani, our overnight summer camp located on 125 acres in Northwest Illinois (near Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin), is a camp where everyone is accepted for who they are, while still being challenged to become a better person. As a parent (and camp director), I can appreciate how it can be a challenge to maximize your child’s behavior and choices. 

Indeed, children (as do we as adults) sometimes exhibit behaviors that are not ideal for their development.  Read below for a few ways to help your child learn more positive behaviors.  Bullets below, with the full article here

  • Lead with empathy and connection.
    • Try to learn where the not-great behavior is coming from. 
    • Try and connect with an issue you have faced in your own experience.
  • Borrow tactics from negotiation.
    • Pick your battles.
    • Look at interest rather than a position.
  • Talk above their age or maturity level.
    • Set the expectations based on age and maturity level.
    • Give them the responsibility that they can handle.
  • Focus more on relating than teaching.
    • Connect first, teach second.
    • Share your frustration about when an incident happens.
  • Be intentional with vocal tone and language.
    • Use “task-tone”.
    • Keep yourself calm.
  • Teach them how to recover from mistakes.
    • Help your children repair any harm they have done.
      • Apologize.
      • Fix/pay for the broken item.
    • Consequences should be logical and restorative.
  • Help them connect their emotions to behavior.
    • All behaviors come from somewhere.
    • Teach self-regulation techniques.
  • Examine unmet expectations.
    • Ask questions rather than make assumptions.
    • The child is your partner in the process. 

Source Article: Washington Post


More Details

6 Ways to Help Kids Minimize Screen Time

Camp Kupugani is a multicultural overnight summer camp in northwest Illinois, just a stone’s throw away from Chicago (that is if you can throw a stone about 90 miles). Although Kupugani is a technology-free camp, most homes are not, and with many schools using online-based homework, it increasingly challenging to strike a balance between technology and the actual tactile world. Bullets below, with the full Washington Post article here.

  • Keep playing with your kids.
    • Even as they become more independent, keep playing!
      • Play cards
      • Shoot hoops
    • Don’t give up when they say no once; keep at it.
  • Just say no!
    • Set limits and stick to them.
    • Most children thrive with set rules.
  • Slow down on purging toys.
    • Children often revisit old toys when they need a retreat.
    • This revisit can be an emotionally safe place/time for your children. 
  • Let them be bored!
    • Boredom sparks creativity.
    • Unstructured play can help with higher-level thinking.
  • Get their input early.
    • Layout boundaries with technology before the technology is in the home.
    • Having the children being a part of the limit-setting makes it more real to them. 
  • Walk the walk.
    •  You must also follow the boundaries (at least when the children are around…Hey, if I could eat okra when my child was younger, you can shut off your phone occasionally!).
    • Modeling the behavior helps children see that you are taking this seriously. 
    • This will also help you define good work-to-home boundaries. 

Source article: The Washington Post


More Details

4 Ways to Make Your Kids Successful

At Camp Kupugani, our overnight summer camp in Northwest Illinois (near Chicago and Madison), we’re all about maximizing the development for our campers. The good folks from Barking Up the Wrong Tree have some good tips on maximizing their development at home.  Bullets below, with the whole article available here.  

  • Children need a sampling period 
    • Let them explore a variety of different activities (sports, instruments) and not force them into one 
  • Real learning is slow and frustrating 
    • To really learn, studying must be hard 
    • Obstacles that make learning more challenging, slower, and more frustrating in the short term are more beneficial for your kids in the long term
    • Learning too fast or too easy doesn’t stick for your kids 
  • Too much specialization makes you narrow
    • Kids need to learn a variety of things and how to make a connection between them
  • When you’re young, quit may be better than grit
    • Let your kid try and fail that’s how they learn and grow
    • Skip the youthful mistakes and they become middle-aged mistakes 

Source Article:


More Details

Easy Ways to Help Your Teen Practice Gratitude

Camp Kupugani is our multicultural overnight summer camp where campers from across the country and the world come together to learn from one another and work together.  We’re less than two hours from the bustling cities of Chicago and Madison (two progressive, Midwest towns).

Camp Kupugani is thankful for our families and friends who helped us navigate towards our 13th summer fostering world changers.  Part of that is facilitating ways to practice gratitude. We provide our 14- and 15-year-olds chances to give back by visiting nursing home residents and helping out on a local farm. If your teen isn’t seeming as grateful as s/he could be, a recent Washington Post article elucidates some prompts on how to help them maximize that. You can check out the full piece here and/or our bulleted takes on it below.

“Teens cannot be forced to open up. If we try to compel them, they simply won’t say anything. However, by remembering a few things, you can coax them out and connect with them.”

  • Keep it simple.
    • Don’t put too much weight into a single conversation.
    • Longer conversations don’t always equate to depth.
  • Don’t try and force openness.
    • Try and connect on a regular basis.
    • Talk about the easy things often and the hard topics will flow from those.
  • Tell them you want to ask some questions.
    • Remove yourself from any of the answers to reduce pressure.
    • Ask questions that help you understand their point of view.
      • Express genuine interest.
        • Put the phone down
        • Give them undivided time (no chores)
        • Look them in the eyes
        • Respond when needed
  • Provide them with first-hand experiences in giving to other less fortunate. (Read our blog on helping our children be less materialistic here.)
    • Find a task/group that meets your child’s interests.
      • No one activity will work for every kid.
    • Join in on the activity with your child.
  • Model gratitude in your daily lives.
    • Use “thank you” liberally and specifically.

Below are some questions suggested by the article to ask your child to help them think about gratitude without a lecture. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you can think of something ask away!

  • Who is the most important person in your life that I know?
  • Who is the most important person in your life that I don’t know?
  • Tell me why your favorite person is your favorite person.
  • What person has had the biggest influence on you thus far?
  • What person trusts you the most?
  • What person do you trust the most?
  • What person knows you the very best?
  • Of all the people who know you well, who do you think is closest to liking you as you are today — giving you unconditional love?
  • What peer do you admire most? Why?
  • What adult in your life do you admire most? Why?
  • Have you ever told those people how important they are to you? Do you think they have any idea?
  • What activity has had the biggest influence on you so far?
  • If we moved tomorrow, whom would you miss most (make it clear you are not moving!)?
  • If we moved tomorrow, what activity would you miss most?
  • Phone aside, what appliance /modern invention would you miss the most if we lost electricity?
  • What’s your favorite song? Can you help me understand what you like about?
  • What’s your favorite movie of all time? What do you like about it?
  • What show do you like to binge watch? Why?
  • What book have you read that you liked most?
  • What brings you the most joy in life?
  • What experience are you really glad you had?
  • What experience are you glad is over?
  • What experience are you really glad you had that you are glad is over?
  • What is something you didn’t like but you are glad happened?
  • If you had to list five things, what would you be most grateful for?

Article Source:


More Details

9 Helpful Things We Can Learn About Our Sons

Camp Kupugani is our overnight summer camp in Northwest Illinois in the Midwest about two hours away from both Chicago and Madison. We offer a 2-week boys only session and a 2 week blended (intentionally coed) session where we focus on the way boys can become their best selves. A recent article from Deep Roots at Home has some good tips on what we can learn about our sons.  Bullets below, with the full article here.

  • Ours sons’ brains work differently.
    • Boys learn with movement
    • Give brain breaks
    • Boys tend to think more sequentially
  • They need to move.
    • Boys use movement to keep themselves alert
      • Leg bouncing
      • Fidgeting
      • Tapping a pencil
    • Go for a walk as you talk with your son
  • Our sons need us to believe in them.
    • Boys need reminders that they can do it
    • Use positive words toward your son and his accomplishments
  • Boys have different nutritional needs.
    • Diet affects more than just body weight
  • They benefit from mentors.
    • Boys learn from their parents and positive role models
    • Having an external source who backs up the parents can be so helpful
  • Our sons will talk if we know how to listen.
    • Start the conversation when doing something else
    • Put the idea of feelings in practical terms
  • They want us to connect with them.
    • The relationship between parent and son is paramount
    • Spend time doing things he likes
    • Ask questions about interests
  • They need us to respect them.
    • Boys like men desire respect
    • Competitive spirit allows them to grow
  • Our sons learn best from natural consequences.
    • Boys connect consequences that are most directly related to the situation
    • A scrape or broken bone will heal

Article Source:


More Details

5 Solutions to Kid’s Impatient & Entitled Attitudes

At Camp Kupugani, our overnight summer camp in beautiful small town Illinois (near Chicago and Madison), we’ve had to evolve how we engage our campers over the years. From its beginnings twelve summers ago, for sure in the last several years, we have comparatively spent more time on facilitating and developing social skills, and making kids comfortable with having to be “busy” all the time.  A recent article by Deep Roots at Home speaks to this observation; check out the full article here.

Read the Summary Below:

Kids get everything they want when they want it.

    • We have evolved into an instant gratification society.

Children (and adults) have increasingly limited real-world interaction.

    • Digital interaction has taken the place of in-person connections. (Read our blog about the book iGen here.)
    • Digital media has replaced outdoor time.

Many parents focus on kids’ having endless fun.

    • Kids are not allowed to be bored, thus restricting exercise of their “creative muscles.”
    • Children help less with household chores.

There is too much reliance on electronic technology.

    • Technology is often used as a babysitter.
    • Everyday life seems “boring” compared to children’s digital lives in videos or video games.

Kids rule their families’ worlds.

    • Children are dictating choices over parents.
    • Giving children what they want all the time is not good for them.
    • “Need to do” has become a thing of the past.

So, how do we help today’s children overcome these struggles to prepare them for adulthood?

Set appropriate limits; kids need limits to grow and be properly supported.

    • Set a schedule for your child.
      • Include sufficient sleep time
      • Include sufficient time for schoolwork
      • Can allow limited time for technology
    • Do “what is good for them” instead of “what they want”
    • Send your kid outside!

Limit technology, and connect (or reconnect) emotionally with your children.

    • Parental emotional availability is the main nutrient for child’s brain (not technology).
    • Do activities and spend time as a family.
    • Write encouraging notes to your children, and pt them in their lunchbox or backpack.

Train your children to delay gratification.

    • Delayed gratification means resilience and better stress-coping mechanisms.
    • Create times where they need to be “bored.”
    • Increase the intervals between “I want” and “I get.”

Teach your child to do “monotonous” work early; that can be a foundation for future “workability.”

    • Have your child help with chores that are age-appropriate.
      • Add/adjust tasks as your children get older.
    • Help your child learn that even the most “boring” tasks can be made fun; the brain will make the connection.

Teach and model social skills.

    • Teach them to take turns.
    • Say “please” and “thank you.”

Article Source:


More Details

“Boys Will Be Boys” Mentality

4 Reasons We Should Be Weary of this Stereotype

At Camp Kupugani, our Midwest summer camp near Chicago and Madison, we empower each child to feel welcome and to live their best life. We do not subscribe to the “Boys will be boys” mentality. A recent article from Psychology Today elucidates why that mantra is non-positive; see below for bullets, with the full article here.

  • It prompts children to construct gender stereotypes (read our FAQ about blended camp to see how we feel about gender stereotypes).
    • Children should be seen as people first.
    • There is no one way to be a boy.
    • “Boys will be boys” contributes to a culture of “toxic masculinity.”
  • It is misinformed thinking and oversimplifies the problem.
    • It tries to explain away aggressive behavior
      • Places the blame on natural impulses without a deeper understanding of the behavior
    • Can be used to justify bullying
  • It limits the full expression of children.
    • States certain traits are only for boys or men
    • Studies have shown that males and females are very similar
  • Gender stereotypes allow unconscious biases to form and proliferate.
    • Unconscious or implicit bias is something we try to understand at camp.
    • Gender stereotypes enforce a limiting, binary view.

Article Source:


More Details

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.


Register Today