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4 Ways to Be Stress-Free

When we’re at our summer camp near Chicago. It’s pretty easy to be stress-free while enjoying the beautiful land, playing games, or just hanging out with friends. When we’re not at camp, we might need to be a little more intentional about limiting stress in our lives. Below are some good scientifically-backed research tips on how to stay stress-free. Summary below (from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree), with the whole article available at this link.

  • Clench your facial muscles and relax them
  • Take slow, deep breaths
  • Splash your face with cold water
  • Play some music and do a little dance


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Are You Culturally Competent?

Especially in today’s social climate, it is increasingly important to be mindful and respectful of people of a variety of backgrounds. It can be all too easy to demonize and denigrate someone who you classify as “other”.  If you think you’ve got what it takes, check out our fun, informative quiz to see if you are culturally competent. 


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Recognizing Bias to Work Toward Cultural Competence

At our summer camp outside of Chicago, we strive to achieve cultural competence as an organization, as counselors and staff, and as role models for young people.  Our goal is not to be “colorblind” or to negate differences, but rather to celebrate and appreciate ourselves as individuals, while striving to be a community that continually progresses positively.  Part of being able to be culturally competent is recognition of innate biases that we may have, so that we can act accordingly to adjust or realize our behavior. Check out this link for a great tool to help recognize automatic preferences that you have given certain circumstances.


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The Art of Peace in Times of War

1. Staying in the Room to Work Things Out: This is not always easy, especially if we morally, spiritually, politically or religiously disagree with someone. Also, we might emotionally leave, even if we’re still physically in the room. So, the real the commitment here is our willingness to remain emotionally and physically present and open to working things out.

2. Remaining Curious: It is often convenient to stop listening when our truth is in competition with someone else’s truth. The hard part is being curious about what they mean and how their experiences impacted who they became and are today. This requires being sincerely curious about the social and personal contexts of someone’s life journey and how those experiences shaped their future life choices and perceptions.

3. Taking No Prisoners: There is a Buddhist saying: “To have no enemies, is to take no prisoners.” I think that what is being implied here is to notice how withholding some part of the truth will hold another hostage. Thus, creating resentment, bitterness and distrust. It’s not easy. As someone once said: “The truth is always there. Saying it out loud, now, that’s the hard part.”

4. Self-Reflection: Being in a relationship affords you the opportunity (if you’re willing to take it) to see who we are in the eyes of another. We seldom get to hear, let alone truly see what we look like to others when we’re angry, frustrated, irritated, in love, in despair, feeling hopeless or lost. That is why reflecting on our actions/inactions and being open to hearing how others experience us is so critical to our growth and understanding of ourselves and our impact on others. As Anais Nin once wrote: “We do not see the world as it is, but rather who we are.”

5. Owning Our Part: There is an American Indian saying: “Today, is a good day to die.” One of the implications here is that we need to examine whether or not we are headed in the right direction and if we are harming others by our actions/inactions. Perhaps, one of the reasons we have such a hard time apologizing and taking responsibility is because we seldom witness that quality in our leaders and from our institutions. Maya Angelou once wrote: “I may not remember what you said or what you did, but I will l always remember how you made me feel.”

6. A Willingness to Transform & Change: So often, change is viewed as having to lose something, rather than as an opportunity to enhance and enrich our lives. Transformation is defined as a change in nature, form or character. To create trust and community, we must be willing to transform our goals, ourselves, our communities and our institutions when the need arises. Change is a healthy and necessary part of nature and science and in all relationships. As Amelia Earhart once shared: “The most difficult decision is just to act. The rest is just tenacity.”



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Help For Explaining Your Shyness to Folks Who Don’t Believe You

In a past blog post, I discussed “Why People Don’t Believe That I’m Shy (Compensation Learning) and Why We Are Sure to Help Our Campers Challenge Themselves“.  Indeed, as a director of a summer camp, people often don’t believe me when I say that I’m shy. A recent post by Jenn Granneman of Introvert, Dear summarizes the challenges of “outgoing introverts” quite eloquently, as below:

Yes, Outgoing Introverts Do Exist—Are You One?


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How to Live the Good Life Even When not at Camp

At our summer camp near Chicago, living the good life is pretty easy.  Sun, fun, and connecting with friends on the daily–who can beat that?

In the cloudier non-summer months, with less sunlight and shorter days, it’s important to focus on strategies that can help us continue to live the good life.  Here are some good tips from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree.  downloadSummary below, with the full article available at this link.

  • Smile: Flex that happiness muscle. 
  • Laugh: How many things prevent divorce and can help you deal with the passing of a loved one?
  • Touch: Telling them how you feel need not involve telling. And you’ll be a better team.
  • Tease: Free your inner snark. A little teasing makes things fun. And it makes things last.


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7 Active Listening Tips to Get People to Like You


During the summer at our Midwest summer camp, it’s relatively easy to connect with new and old friends–mostly by just being yourself, but sometimes by being intentional about using good socializing techniques, like the good active-listening techniques below.

Group Of Friends Meeting In Coffee Shop

Here are some good tips from a former FBI agent about how you can get people to like you.  

Summary below (from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree), with the full article available at this link.  

  • The single most important thing is non-judgmental validation. Seek someone else’s thoughts and opinions without judging them.
  • Suspend your ego. Focus on them.
  • Really listen, don’t just wait to talk. Ask them questions; don’t try to come up with stories to impress.
  • Ask people about what’s been challenging them.
  • Establishing a time constraint early in the conversation can put strangers at ease.
  • Smile, chin down, blade your body, palms up, open and upward non-verbals.
  • If you think someone is trying to manipulate you, clarify goals. Don’t be hostile or aggressive, but ask them to be straight about what they want.


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Some Rituals to Help Make You Happy

Here are some good tips on rituals you can incorporate to facilitate being happy.  Summary below (from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree), with two relevant articles available at this link and this link

Here’s what brain research says will make you happy:

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
  • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

Here’s how ancient wisdom from the Stoics can help you be happier:

  • Events Don’t Upset You. Beliefs Do: Only the end of the world is the end of the world.
  • Control What You Can. Ignore The Rest: Worrying never fixed anything.
  • Accept Everything. But Don’t Be Passive: Nobody recommends denial. Accept. And then do something.
  • Choose Whose Child You Will Be: “What would Batman do in this situation?”
  • Morning And Evening Rituals Are Essential: Plan for the day, then reflect on the day.


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7 Steps That Will Make You Happy All Day

When we’re at our Midwest summer camp and playing GaGa, rock climbing, or just hanging out with friends, it’s pretty easy to be happy.  After all, communing in nature, having fun, and having a great time in the sun are easy ways to create smiles.  When we’re not at camp, we might need to be a little more focused to make those smiles last all day.  Below are some good scientifically-backed research tips on what you can do to get that good feeling all day.  Summary below (from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree), with the whole article available at this link.

  • Have something to look forward to: Plans with a friend are always good.
  • Manage your mood: Don’t check email. Do what gives you a feeling of control.
  • Eat breakfast: If you eat nothing and end up killing someone, well… I hope it’s not me.
  • Do something you dread: You’ve got the willpower. And you’ll feel so much better afterwards.
  • Send a “thank you” email: Yes, it’s that simple. Really.
  • Plan how you’ll deal with challenges: Think about the worst that could happen and it probably won’t.
  • Kiss somebody you love: If this makes you late for work, feel free to blame me.


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3 Scientifically-Based Ways to be More Assertive

At our multicultural summer camp near Chicago, we practice assertiveness techniques to help empower our campers and staff. A recent blog from Barking Up the Wrong Tree has a few useful tools.  Bullets are below, with the full blog available at this linkhow-to-be-more-assertive

  • Focus on controlling only your own behavior, i.e. not other people’s
  • If you want something, ask!
  • Try to get people to change their behavior, not their personality.


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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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