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Camp Kupugani History

Dating Back to the 1800s

In April 1951, the Board of Directors for the 4-H Camp of Northwestern Illinois purchased an original parcel of 110 acres of Midwest timberland along the Leaf River from brothers Ben and Deed Sjoberg. Later donations brought the site to its present 126 acres.

The camp was named White Eagle, in honor of the old White Eagle Mill. Built in 1837 and located on what is now camp property, the mill was a significant source of the region’s livelihood. Exactly how the mill came to be named White Eagle is unknown. One legend is that a rare white eagle was seen in the area when the mill was founded. Indeed, on warm days, a strong upward thermal wall of air rises from the Leaf River Valley. Soaring birds ride along this updraft and there are regular eagle sightings. Today, a large hawk controls the area. As it soars over camp, its white underside brings to mind the old White Eagle legend.

Honoring History While Looking to the Future

Camp Kupugani continues to honor the region’s history, with the mill wheel in our dining hall forming the base of the fireplace. Even back when the mill wheel made its initial appearance at camp in 1951, the commitment to teaching quality character development, appreciation of nature’s beauty, and the development of valuable relationships was strong. For over seven decades since then, the camp has brought children together to celebrate nature, one another, and themselves. It is in this spirit that we look forward to our next seven decades!

“We are for difference; for respecting difference, for allowing difference, for encouraging difference, until difference no longer makes a difference.” – Johnetta Cole (former President of Spelman College)

White Eagle Camp Founded in 1951
White Eagle Camp Founded in 1951

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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