Camp Kupugani

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Camp Kupugani is a multicultural summer camp for young women and young men, in girls-only and boys-only sessions, with an emphasis on teaching them to recognize and eliminate stereotypes. It is located in Leaf River, Illinois and is the only private, residential summer camp facility in the United States under black ownership. It is also an American Camp Association member.


A Harvard University graduate in psychology[citation needed] and the Canadian-born son of Jamaican immigrants, Kevin Gordon first started working with children in 1984. He has been in the camp business since 1990, when he first worked at a girls camp in Wisconsin. After college graduation, he continued working as an assistant camp director.

The Program[edit]

Kupugani for Girls[edit]

The camp's diversity education program is designed to allow girls from diverse cultures and backgrounds to form a community while having fun, being empowered, and learning critical social skills. There are two choices, either a two-week session or a four-week session. Curriculum modules range from positive self-image and self-expression to leadership and economic literacy. Each week brings special activities and interactive games emphasizing diversity, self-confidence, decision - making, assertiveness, and communication skills. Everyone plays together and learns from each other, reinforced by everyday cabin life. For camp specific activities, they offer rock climbing, swimming, river walks, Gaga, crate stacking and other fun activities like canoeing and night hikes under the stars. The program has been widely recognized in the media, including features in Ebony Magazine, on the Tavis Smiley Radio program, and on WCPT Chicago radio, as well as articles in "Afrique" and "Insight News".

Kupugani for Boys[edit]

The camp's diversity education program also caters to boys in a boys-only session, bringing varied backgrounds together for two weeks developing leadership skills and maximizing confidence. The curriculum focuses on team-building and accessing different cultures to self-expression and self-esteem. The camp presents opportunities to build an inclusive community and experience cross-cultural exchanges, dialogues and growth as well as learning to communicate positively. Some of the activities offered include rock climbing, dam jumping, mud volleyball, GaGa, river floating, crate stacking and playing under waterfalls. Piloted in 2009, the camp now has a full program for boys aged 7 to 15 years old.

Kupugani Mother Daughter Weekend[edit]

This weekend focuses primarily on reaffirming the relationships between the mothers and their daughters while building an empowered and diverse community of women. The curriculum allows for mothers and daughters to individualize their experience and have structured programs to feel comfortable getting to know one another and others around them. The program is designed to accentuate the skills and bonds that are present between mother and daughter as well as learn from one another and create emotional support systems between mothers. The activities include such things as rock climbing, river walking, campfires, playing under waterfalls and night hikes under the stars. The weekend also brings special activities and interactive games emphasizing relationship building, diversity, team building trust exercises and self-confidence.


The camp draws its population from a wide range of children. In addition to campers from as far as Japan, Spain, and England, others have joined them from California, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Georgia, and Wisconsin, in addition to children from the camp's region of Northwest Illinois. The campers' ethnic backgrounds are a mix: including Caucasian, Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latina, Asian, South Asian, and Biracial, including of Native American and Middle Eastern descent.

Comparative statistics[edit]

A recent American Camp Association survey shows that independent, for-profit residential camps have 89% white attendance with less than 4% African-American, less than 4% Hispanic/Latino(a), just over 2% Asian, and just over 1% bi-racial.

External links[edit]