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10 Things Successful People Do Each Day

At our summer camp outside of Chicago, we try to role model ways to live positive lives.  An article from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree (summarizing an book by author Tim Ferriss) offers ten ways we can follow the lead of others to lead happy, successful lives.  Summary below, with the whole article at the link at the bottom.  

  • Have a mindful morning ritual: Don’t start the day reacting. Get focused.
  • Turn weaknesses into strengths.
  • Don’t ignore the clichés: Many are spoken so often because they work.
  • Be able to think, to endure and to wait.
  • Have an “overnight task”: Sleep on it. Your muse works while you rest.
  • Clear the path: Do more than you’re required to do and you’ll get to do what you want.
  • They’re not evil. They’re exhausted: We can all be big kids. They don’t hate you. They need a nap.
  • Remember the 5 chimps theory: You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose wisely.
  • Know when to use your moral compass: If you start out judging, you won’t be listening.
  • Get a “Jar of Awesome”: Don’t just achieve. Appreciate.

10 Things The Most Successful People Do Every Day


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4 Ways to Live a Happy Life

At our midwest summer camp, we always try to encourage healthy living. An article from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree offers a few good tips.  Summary below, with the whole article at the link at the bottom.  

Here are the different happy lives:

  • The Pleasant Life: PLEASURE GOOD. PAIN BAD. Schedule more fun.
  • The Good Life: Do what you’re good at and go as far down that rabbit hole of “flow” as you can, Alice.
  • The Meaningful Life: The Good Life + helps others.
  • The Full Life: Enjoy the pleasures of life, leverage your skills, seek flow, and use it to help people.

The Full Life might sound like a lot. It might sound hard because of formal terms like “signature strengths” and intimidating concepts like “meaning.” Don’t let any of that stuff scare you off. Just try this:

  • Every single day, do something that makes you smile.
  • Every single day, do something you’re good at.
  • Every single day, make sure your efforts help someone else smile.

That’s all it takes to start living the happiest life there is.

And if you’re not careful, it might turn you into a good human being at the same time.

This Is How To Have A Happy Life: 4 Proven Secrets From Research


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4 Easy Rituals to Relieve Stress

At our summer camp near Chicago, we continually try to improve how we can live healthy lives and treat ourselves well, so as to positively influence our campers and ourselves. An article from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree offers a few good stress-relief tips.  Summary below, with the whole article at the link at the bottom. 

  • 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

New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Easy Rituals That Will Make You Stress-Free


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Why Children Make Great Role Models

Check out this article by Denise Fournier Ph.D. on to hear why children make great role models. 

A role model is someone we admire and wish to emulate; someone after whom we want to model our lives in some way. When we choose our role models, we tend to choose people who are older than us or have more life experience. We look to people like our parents; our bosses; or people deemed successful by society’s standards, like world leaders, entrepreneurs, celebrities, or famous athletes. But who says role models have to be people we look up to? What if we could look down, literally speaking, to find some of the best examples of how to live?

The way I see it, children make some of the best role models. Here’s why:

1) They’re unfiltered. Children tend to say exactly what’s on their mind (sometimes to their parents’ great embarrassment). They don’t tend to second-guess themselves or augment what they want to say in order to please others. This kind of unbridled honesty is something we can learn from. When was the last time you bit your tongue and chose to stay silent about something when you wanted to speak up? How often do you find yourself choosing your words so carefully that what you end up saying hardly resembles what you mean? As adults, we regularly hold back or manipulate our words in order to satisfy other people, evade conflict, or avoid rejection. We censor ourselves, only to end up suffering the pitfalls of not speaking our truth. Children can teach us a lot about saying what we mean.

2) They’re naturally mindful. Because most experiences are new to children, they tend to approach them with what Zen Buddhists call shoshin, or “beginner’s mind.” They have a natural ability to be fully present in the here-and-now, experiencing everything through their five senses in a state of unadulterated awareness. When you think about how much we struggle to remain grounded in the present moment without getting distracted by the flood of thoughts pulling us into the past or future, it’s easy to see how much we can learn from children on this front. Children can teach us a lot about being present. 

3) They understand the value of play. We’re so consumed by our commitments and responsibilities that many of us forget how to have fun. Most adults in Western society consider leisure a luxury; it ranks low on their list of priorities, if it appears there at all. But the role of play doesn’t need to be diminished as a consequence of getting older. In fact, it’s just as important for adults as it is for children. Engaging in fun, playful activities is a great way to relieve stress, improve brain functioning, fortify relationships, and boost creativity. Since children are the experts at play, who better to look to as models for how to do more of it in our own lives? Children can teach us a lot about having fun.

4) They don’t have to work at being authentic. Before children start internalizing society’s messages about who they’re supposed to be and how they’re supposed to act, they express themselves naturally and without pretense. Unless others teach them how to do it, they don’t criticize themselves or put up a front. Their original nature is to be purely and authentically themselves. And that’s our original nature too. But an adult lifetime’s worth of internalizing messages about who we should be tends to limit us from being who we are. Allow the children in your life to serve as a reminder that you don’t have to be who others want you to be—being you is wonderfully enough. Children can teach us a lot about being ourselves.

5) They ask for help when they need it. Our society prizes independence and self-sufficiency. We’re pressured to have it all together all the time, so when we don’t, we often feel like we’ve failed. Admitting that we need help can feel like a form of weakness, so we try everything in our power to avoid doing it. We wear ourselves out and go through unnecessary suffering to avoid uttering the words, “I need help.” Children are supposed to be dependent. They’re not supposed to have all the answers and nobody expects them to do everything on their own. When they need help, they don’t hesitate to ask for it. Neither should you. Children can teach us a lot about asking for help.

When we’re open to learning from them, children can serve as remarkable teachers. They can remind us of who we once were and who we can be again. They can be our greatest role models, if only we let them.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” – Angela Schwindt



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Dare to Embrace Difference

I hope that you are well, or as well as you can be during these tumultuous times. Depending on your worldview, you might be considering what to do in response to the what you see in the larger world—to defend rights, to counter hateful rhetoric, to rebuild movements and momentum for positive change.

I ask that you support Kupugani and our mission to continue to create a version of the world that we want to see—where issues of difference can be celebrated, and our commonalities can be recognized and appreciated.

Even as some turn inwards and reinforce only those viewpoints that reinforce their own echo chamber, we recognize that there is crucial work ahead so that we can come together. The work needs to continue as individuals and build from there. 

Like Whitney Houston back in the day, I genuinely believe that children are the future. We can teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Okay, enough of the lyrics…but the kiddos are truly the way forward.

We have the choice right now, right here, to build on progressive visions of togetherness, inclusion, and true diversity of culture, background, and thought, if we are committed to focus our efforts and attention. 

Please help Kupugani continue to foster change, Help us inspire future young people to be compassionate, caring, and open to outcomes.


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Are You Culturally Competent? Do You Want to Be?

Given the historic levels of what some have deemed a “cultural crisis” in this nation, perhaps now’s as good a time as any to challenge yourself with our cultural competence quiz.  Are you culturally competent? (Do you want to be?)


Are You Culturally Competent?


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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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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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