Summer Camp Directory

Camp Kupugani

Camp Kupugani

What we're all about...

Our camp is intentionally fun, empowering, and challenging. Less than 2 hours from Chicago--in separate girls-only, boys-only, and blended (intentionally coed)--we provide a fun, multicultural sleepaway camp, uniting children of varied backgrounds and providing empowerment and community-building skills, so that children aged 7 to 15 expand comfort zones and build character. 

We're confident that those who attend will have similar positive experiences to our past campers, who have said things like:

“Camp Kupugani helped me see that I am beautiful on the inside and out. Because of my time here at Camp Kupugani, I want to teach girls that they are strong, independent women who can change the world.”

“I learned things they try to teach you in school: respect, unity, diversity, self-respect, communication, decision-making and easy conflict resolution. Here they actually teach you those things!”

“Going to C.K. really helped me make friends, be happier, be more sure of myself, and pretty much be a better kid all around!”

Kids love it here…and parents are equally excited about our program. In our past 14 years of parent surveys, 99% of respondents would recommend our camp to friends. The overwhelming majority of our parents noted their child’s improvement in:

Acknowledgment and Appreciation of Diversity
Conflict Resolution Skills
Personal Growth and Self Confidence
Positive Self Image and Empowerment
Leadership Skills

At Camp Kupugani, we have fun changing our world!

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Camp Kupugani
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Contact us

Camp Kupugani Inc.

Kevin Gordon



Our camp address

Camp Kupugani


Leaf River







Age Range:



Girls Boys Coed






American Camp Association

What we offer...


Gaga, Disc Golf, 9 Square in the Air, Mud Volleyball, Sand Volleyball, Crate Stacking, Horse Riding, Slacklining, Rock Climbing, Arts and Crafts, Archery, Biking, Outdoor Living, Campfires, Night Under the Stars, Hiking, Ecology and Nature, Night Hike, Challenge Hikes, River Walks, Swimming, Fishing, Paddle Boarding, Canoeing, Lake Play

Cost & Sessions

Two Week Boys Only $2295 June 12-25, 2022
Two Week Blended $2295 June 26-July 9, 2022
Two Week Blended $2295 July 10-23, 2022
Two Week Girls Only $2295 July 24-August 6, 2022

Camp Q&A

How do we screen staff?

Our staff members are carefully selected from hundreds of applicants from throughout the United States and all over the world. Boasting a more selective percentage of hires to applicants than even Ivy League universities, we are extremely intentional in our hiring process, offering positions to only those truly committed to being a teacher, counselor, mentor, protector and friend to our campers. Prospective staff members undergo a rigorous screening and interview process–including in-person interviews plus reference and background checks–to make sure that we hire only the best, most qualified individuals to be a part of our camp family. Staff members are CPR and First Aid certified. They also acknowledge and abide by child abuse and internet policies and protections, and a variety of other precautions before being allowed to work at camp. Beyond background checks, our camp culture of always observing a “rule of three” provides an institutional practice that helps to prevent our camp from being one of those schools, churches, or other youth-serving organization often in the headlines for bad behavior being perpetrated by creepy adults. (For more on empowering children to minimize the potential of abuse, check out our blog here:

Ratio of campers to staff?

As supervision is one of our top priorities, we maintain a staff ratio of better than 3 to 1. There are generally 2 counselors in a cabin of 7-10 campers. Additionally, there are program staff who live in central camp in our staff cabin. Also, owner/directors Kevin and Natasha live near camp, so there is plenty of supervised independence! During certain activities or times of the day, ratios can vary; at all times, we maintain minimum ratios better than American Camp Association standards of 6:1 for 7-8 year-olds, 8:1 for 9-14 year-olds, and 10:1 for 15 year-olds.

What are our safety & security policies?

The camp’s Midwest location has a few protective features. The topography of camp (i.e. bluffs, cliffs, water, rural location bounded by large farms and forest) minimizes any outside access. Thick brush and trees prevent outsiders from looking in. The camp is accessible by a single, rural gravel road, which is accessed generally only by those who live there or those who service those homes. Rural Midwest cultural norms and courtesies create an additional awareness of vehicles and people who don’t live on the rural road. Our camp staff members are also trained to recognize, interact with, and assess any unrecognized visitors to camp. Here’s more on why your kids are safe with us:

How do we handle disciplinary issues?

At camp, we empower our campers to resolve conflicts by using conflict resolution techniques. That said, there are times when those may be insufficient, or when a situation requires an adult’s assistance in crafting a solution.

Each camper agrees to the following Camper Code of Conduct.

try my best and give generously of myself.

be honest and respectful (of my peers, camp staff, and myself)

participate enthusiastically in all parts of the program.

make my best effort in understanding and working with others (fellow campers and staff).

respect and listen to others’ opinions.

abide by all safety policies and never endanger myself or another.

ask a counselor or adult staff member for help should I have any problems.

Should a camper (or staff) struggle with any of the above, we have a progressive check-in system to try to find solutions, as delineated below:

Step 1: Check in with Counselor to help the camper craft an appropriate behavior/response.

Step 2: Check in with Co-Counselor or Co-Facilitator

Step 3: Check in with a Camp Administrator

Step 4: Check in with Camp Director (and possibly parent/guardian) to discuss whether our camp is an appropriate place for the camper or if they need to leave.

Occasionally there may be certain behaviors that can’t be tolerated or accommodated at camp–i.e. refusal to be with an assigned group, violence. In those situations, the check in process sometimes doesn’t apply. Generally speaking, if a camper requires significant amounts of one-on-one attention, they are usually not a fit for our camp.

What medical resources are available?

Camp Kupugani has a complete health center, with a nurse who handles the day-to-day services and needs. Our nurse keeps all medication and distributes it as prescribed by your doctor. You will be notified if your child has to stay overnight in the health center. If for some reason emergency services are required (beyond what can be treated at camp), 911 personnel’s response time is about ten minutes, and the nearest hospital is just 20 minutes away.

What's our typical daily schedule?

Here is a typical day at Camp Kupugani:

Early Bird Activity
If you’re a volunteer early riser, you can get up with the sun and enjoy a swim in the pool, a hike around camp, or a canoe trip up the mist-covered Leaf River. During an Early Bird Activity, early risers and high-energy campers enjoy the chance to experience an activity in the unique time of early dawn.

Wake Up
Rise and shine! At 7:00am, it’s time to wake up, clean up, get dressed, and head out for Community Gathering!

Community Gathering
We start every morning at camp as a community. We gather near the dining hall to greet the day and each other with songs, a quote for the day, and cheery good mornings!

Yum! Eat as much of the hot meal as you need. There’s also plenty of cereal and fruit! Like all camp meals, breakfast is served family-style.

Morning Teams
Following camp chores, it’s time to head to your team groups, to spend the morning doing cool team building and empowerment games and exercises with a diverse group of fellow campers with whom you will spend special activity time each day. Occasionally, we’ll mix it up in the morning with camp-wide activities or bonus camptivity options.

After cleaning up from your morning activities, it’s time to head back to the Dining Hall for lunch. Lunch is again served family-style and is all-you-can-need. In addition to the main dish, salad and fruits are available.

Spend an hour relaxing with your cabin-mates back at the cabin. This is also a great time to write to your friends and family who are not at camp. During this time, you will also receive mail four times per session.

First Camptivity
Following Siesta, you head out the door to your First Camptivity. During the afternoon, water activities are a great way to stay cool! The pool might be calling to you, or maybe some dam jumping or mud volleyball. Or, have a blast on a mountain bike or making crafts; it’s up to you!

Snack Time At La Tienda
A midday snack is always great to keep your energy going! Grab a snack or drink between First and Second Camptivity, and chill out with your friends for a little while!

Second Camptivity
After La Tienda time, you can again choose a fun activity to do on your own or with friends. Maybe a spirited game of Ga-Ga is calling your name for this camptivity period!

Another delicious family-style meal at the dining hall, complete with salad, followed by the loudest singing in the Midwest!

Evening Activity
During the evening, the whole camp community gathers for an interesting activity highlighting our diverse community or for plain old fun like an “un-talent” show, a game of capture the flag, or a bunch of other cool games! Throughout the session, we also have campfires where the camp community enjoys the great energy (and occasional smores!) that campfires bring.

Cabin Time
Before bed, campers reflect on the day they had at camp on a typical day. Then, the counselors might tell a story, discuss a meaningful topic, or cabin mates might just chill out and talk about the great day we had at camp! Cabin time is often the most memorable time at camp.

Lights Out
After so much fun and excitement in the fresh air, a little shut-eye always feels good at camp.

How do we help campers with homesickness?

Missing home is normal. 95 percent of children who spend at least two weeks at overnight camp feel some degree of homesickness, which is typically mild. Nearly everyone misses something about home when they’re away, be it their parents, home cooking, a sibling, or the family pet. Homesickness has a silver lining; if there’s something that children miss about home, that means there’s something about home that they love–and that’s a wonderful thing. Whatever they miss, the vast majority of children have a great time at camp and are not bothered by mild homesickness.

Overcoming a bout of homesickness and enjoying time away from home nurtures children’s independence and prepares them for the future; the fact that second-year campers are usually less homesick than first-year campers shows powerful growth from camp. Our caring staff members have been trained to help campers deal with homesickness should it arise.

What percentage of campers return to camp?

Our high camper return rate (of around 60%, which is high for a non-summer-long program) helps our traditions continue year after year. Having a critical mass of returners helps our new campers feel welcome because they have peers helping them. And, because we keep growing, our 60% returner rate actually gives us about a 50/50 new to returner ratio. Returning campers are quick to bring new campers into the positive camp culture.

What kind of food is served?

Meals at camp not only taste great, but are nutritious too! From local Midwest farms, we obtain meat (Sumner View Angus Farm) that is free of artificial hormones, and stock sodas free of high fructose corn syrup in our camp store. All meals are served family-style in the dining hall where campers sit with their table group, enabling them to meet other members of the camp community by mixing it up with campers who are different from those in their cabin and team groups. Along with lots of food variety, we offer salad for lunch and dinner, and a vegetarian option for our non-carnivores if requested. Camper comments:

“[The food] was soooooo good! Thank you Cook Natasha!!!! 🙂 – N.C.
“It was Delish! Yum! :)” – A.P.
“[The food] was so so so so good.” – T.T.
“[The food] was AMAZING! Oh my gosh, I will miss the food so much.” – J.L.
“Amazing.” – A.E.
“I love it and I want all of the recipes!” – A.M.
“It was AMAZING!” – K.L.
Regarding specialized diets, campers with allergies are offered alternatives such as soy milk, soy nut butter, and gluten-free meal substitutes. A parent or guardian will put this information on the camper’s health form before camp so that we’ll be prepared beforehand. For folks with more individualized needs, our food service manager can provide our camp menu in advance, in case any supplemental food might need to be sent with the child.

Can parents visit camp?

How do campers communicate with parents?

Campers are generally not allowed to call home. Our experience with calls home is that they diminish the camper’s move towards self-sufficiency, and do not help if there are issues of homesickness. You are welcome to call us any time to check up on how your child is doing. We also post hundreds of pictures daily to a password-protected website so you can see your camper’s success for yourself! Studies have shown that NOT speaking with your child leads to better child development outcomes.

Are references available?

For camper parent references, please feel free to email us at and we’re happy to send you a list of parents all happy to discuss their child’s Camp Kupugani experience.

What's our policy regarding phones and digital devices?

Because the whole point of our camp is to enjoy nature, facilitate communication, and empower children by developing those skills, we don’t allow cell phones or Ipods, which diminish interpersonal interaction. A recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that children today are plugged into some kind of electronic medium almost eight hours a day–“more than many full-time jobs, and more time than they spend doing anything else besides sleeping.” As little as regular two hours a day usage of social media leads to increased feelings of loneliness, unhappiness, and depression. Recent research suggests that exposure to nature can improve all children’s cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses and depression. Creativity is also stimulated by childhood experiences in nature. Here’s more research at this link ( on how campers feel about the positive impact of not having their phones.

Is tuition assistance available?

How can I afford camp? Maybe the question should be: How can I not? There is immeasurable value to a dollar spent on a good camp experience-it develops the whole person via a comprehensive social and experiential education. The campers’ empowerment as they realize that they can become powerful, independent young people is priceless. The value of making a variety of lifelong friends from different countries, backgrounds, cultures, and religions is incomparable.

The camper (and parent) comfort level given a supportive environment with the campers guided by professionally trained counselors of astounding character, within beautiful natural facilities, is without parallel. Camp provides learning that can’t be experienced elsewhere, like schools, where there is a narrow academic focus. One can appreciate the value associated with good schools; however, the growth experienced there often doesn’t compare to the growth occurring in just days or weeks at camp.

An intentional camp experience provides wholesome, guided and nurtured opportunities to make sincere friends and to respect others; we emphasize caring, respectful, guided socialization. Our camp professionals facilitate interpersonal dealings. Counselor-camper guidance is consistent and practiced daily; the counselors are specifically trained around social issues, and have both the time and supportive atmosphere to do it well. We give children new perspectives on what daily life and an empowering community can be like for them. They can see that–unlike the pressures that can surround the school environment–all of life is not relentless competition; there can be multiple forms of achievement and popularity among peers.

Caregivers must be mindful around expenses like a camp experience, as with anything that you choose to have your child participate in. So we are sure to provide good value. What price can you put on your child developing a lifelong friend? How much is it worth to for your child to dam jump, rock climb, river walk, or sleep under the stars–to challenge themselves physically and mentally to do things that they haven’t done before? What price is sufficient for your child to be mentored by someone dedicated to supporting and empowering them? (That said, we do have financial aid-- for families unable to afford the full tuition).

Here’s more on the return on investment ( discussing the value of a Camp Kupugani experience.