How We Celebrate and Appreciate Identity at Camp Kupugani
At Camp Kupugani, our Midwest summer camp not far from Madison, Wisconsin (and also convenient to Chicago, Illinois), we strive to help campers celebrate and appreciate themselves and others in all aspects of identity. We intentionally move beyond “clumping” (hanging out only with those who we perceived to be exactly like us) to interact with a variety of people in our cabins, teams, tables, and camp activities.
Research shows that early exposure to people that are different than you helps you to become more understanding/welcoming as an adult. We pride ourselves in drawing a diverse range of campers, including but not limited to campers from almost a dozen different countries and almost a dozen American states.
We are not a camp affiliated with a particular religion or belief system. To support identity and empowerment, before each meal, we observe ten seconds of silence, so that folks who want to recognize the meal individually in any non-intrusive manner can do so.
Christians, Muslims, Non-religious, Hindus, Buddhists…All have felt welcomed and supported at Kupugani. Many camps restrict such conversation; at Kupugani, to create a greater level of understanding, people are empowered to speak openly and respectfully about their belief system and those of others.
Cisgender or gender non-conforming, we strive to maintain a community where children and adults should feel safe and free. Complected of various shades and hues, our campers and staff are given a safe space where they can share and celebrate their identity–one chosen by themselves and not necessarily thrust upon them by others. (For example, as a Canadian-born child of Jamaican immigrants, many classify me as “African-American” or “Black”–which are fine, but I can also choose to identify as “brown”, “Jamaican-Canadian”, “hockey player”, “Papa”, “husband”, “camp director”, or whatever…it’s not on others to label me…)
At Kupugani, we strive to make sure that everybody involved in camp is supported, uplifted, and feels at home.