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3 Ways to Raise a Generous Kid

When children attend Camp Kupugani, our Midwest summer camp 90 minutes south of Madison, we want them to grow at camp and at home, so that they become the best versions of themselves.  Please see below for some bullets from a recent Washington Post article on how to raise a generous kid. You can check out the full article here.  

  • Model It!
    • Children learn by what they see.
    • Pay for coffee for the person behind you. 
    • Be kind to the waitstaff.
    • Say “please” and “thank you.”
  • Be Intentional!
    • Give to charities.
    • Take your child to a food kitchen to help serve food. Raising a generous child
    • Make giving an everyday thing.
      • Hold the door open for someone.
      • Help a neighbor shovel the walkway.
      • Make a meal for a friend who is not well.
      • Spend time with someone who is grieving.
    • Remind your child for what they should be thankful.
  • Start Young!
    • Talk with your child about being kind.
      • Generosity flows from a caring heart.
    • Have your child give to a toy drive annually.
    • Remind your child generosity is not just giving tangible things to others.

Original Source: Washington Post


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7 Tips to Maximize Your Well-Being

At Camp Kupugani–our multicultural summer camp near Chicago–we’re all about having an awesome life! Each camper and staff member is charged to be their best, striving to live a good life. When coming across this blog post about how to live a long, awesome life, we thought it was cool to summarize and share.  Bullets below, with the full article here (from the folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree).

Each one of these 7 steps constitute something that you can start today. Follow that step for two weeks, add on the next, and continue until you are working on all 7 steps!

  • Exercise!
    • Get up from your desk every hour and walk about.
    • Exercise in some way every day
      • Vacuum by hand
      • Take the dog/kids for a walk
      • Park further away at the grocery store
      • Walk to and from places when you can instead of driving
  • Hara Hachi Bu (Eat only until you are 80 percent full.)
    • Eat smaller portions
    • Skip dessert
    • Order from the kids or seniors menu when going out to eat
  • Eat Healthy
    • Increase intake of fruits and veggies
      • Make salads often
      • Use fruit as your evening snack
    • Avoid/limit sodium intake
    • Avoid/limit intake of high fructose corn syrup
    • Avoid/limit intake of foods with bad cholesterol
  • Downshift
    • Take time every day to relax
    • Meditate
    • Put the phone away
    • Speak with a friend, uninterrupted by other tasks
    • Enjoy a morning coffee by yourself
  • Belong
    • Schedule time with your friends
    • Join a hobby-based group
    • Exercise with friends or coworkers
  • Don’t Zone Alone
    • Be intentional about sharing your success
    • Bring others along on your exercise routines
  • Emphasize purpose in life
    • Why do you wake up every morning?
    • Why did you choose your career path?
    • Start small


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10 Tips to Express Gratitude in Your Life

At Camp Kupugani–our multicultural overnight summer camp two hours west of Chicago and 90 minutes south of Madison, Wisconsin–we help our campers express gratitude. Below are some tips from a recent great article from the University of Minnesota, to help you us be thankful during this season! Bullets below; you can read the full article here

Every day, say aloud three good things that happened

  • Make time to see the positive
  • Studies have shown saying something out loud helps you to remember it better

Keep a gratitude journal

  • Write down all the positives from your day
  • Look back at it when you are struggling to find good things in your day

Say thanks to your partner/friend

  • Connecting over gratitude helps a relationship grow

Cool a hot temper with a quick gratitude inventory

  • Focus on what is good
  • Go back to the journal

Thank yourself

  • Own the good things you have done for yourself (I.e. took a walk, ate a good lunch)

Use technology to send three gratitude messages a week

  • Send these to friends or coworkers
  • Focus on spreading these out among your connections

Savor the good moments

  • Pay attention to when you are feeling good
  • Reflect on these good moments when you are feeling down.

Check for silver linings

  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Find small positives in everything

Look outward, not inward

  • Give your time to someone
  • Be empathetic to the needs of others

Change your perspective

  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes


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6 Ways to Strengthen Your Bond with Your Mother (or Child)

At our multicultural overnight summer camp two hours west of Chicago, we place great value in the relationship between a mother and her child.  We offer Mother Daughter and Parent Child weekend retreats where mothers and their children can connect. We facilitate this connection by working on teamwork, not allowing technology to get in the way, and allowing them to spend valuable time together. Mother daughter connectionMother daughter connection

Here are a few ways to foster that important mother-child connection at home.  It was originally written from one perspective; we feel that it can apply to both mothers and children.  Please see below for six ways to strengthen that family bond. There’s a longer article from Huff Post that you can access by clicking here.

  • Embrace the positive
    • Focus on the other’s good qualities
    • Make a list of things that you love about them
  • Respect your differences
    • Let differences slide off your back
    • Focus on what you have in common
  • Share your real self
    • Ask for advice
    • Go beyond small talk
    • Discuss your hopes and dreams
  • Get to know them better
    • Ask open-ended questions about the other’s likes and dislikes
    • Connect with their friends
  • Do something new 
    • Mother-child dates do not have to be for young children
    • Do an activity that you both have wanted to do
  • Set boundaries
    • Respect each other’s privacy
    • Understand when the other does not want to share something with you and the other way around


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3 Ways to Work Smarter Not Harder

Our multicultural summer camp in Leaf River, Illinois–two hours west of Chicago–is a camp where everyone works hard!  

As someone outside of camp, you likely entered your career with intention.  However, no matter how much we love the work we do, we can all experience burnout.  From the good folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree, here are three ways to help you experience less burnout and enjoy the job you are doing!  Bullets below. You can check out the rest of the article here to learn the best ways to work smarter not harder.

“Work smarter, not harder.” Sounds good. But how do you actually do that?


Well, luckily someone finally took up the challenge of finding a clear answer…

  • Do Less — Then Obsess
    • Put your energy into less tasks.
    • Don’t stop a task until you are finished.
    • Prune things that are not productive in your day.
  • Use “The Learning Loop”
    • Pick one skill to develop.
    • Dedicate 15 minutes a day to this skill.
    • Find a small area in this skill that needs work.
    • Ask for help from others in your field.
  • Feel Passion & Purpose
    • Do things that excite you in your day.
    • Focus on an obtainable goal.
    • Connect with a coworker daily.
    • Learn something new everyday that connects to your work.


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7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Day-to-Day Contented

At our Midwest summer camp, we strive to have our community be content, even (or especially) when challenges arise.  In folks’ day-to-day existence, maintaining that positive outlook might be harder than when one is playing outside in the sun.  It can be done! happy at work

Studies have shown that many people are not happy at work for lack of seeing success in their every day.  Check out below for a summary of some tips and tricks from the good folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree, to see that you can shape your behavior to help make your days at work more enjoyable, productive, and fulfilling! (The full article is here.)

  • Start the day happy
    • Instead of having a regular alarm, try making it an enjoyable song.
    • Make time to do something you enjoy before you leave for work.
  • Scrub your way to creativity
    • Have a task in mind that you can work on while in the shower.
  • Close loops to kill worries
    • Write down what is worrying you.
    • Make a list of ways you can reduce this worry.
  • Make awful tasks your own
    • Find ways to make a mundane task more fun.
    • Think of ways that you can do the task in your style.
  • Break down procrastination
    • Break big tasks into smaller/easily obtainable bits.
    • Remind yourself that all tasks are important.
  • Keep progress visible
    • Make a physical list of your tasks at hand and cross things off as you accomplish them.
    • Put the list in a location that is close to your work space.
  • Forgiveness keeps you going
    • Forgive yourself for missing a deadline.
    • Plan for how to not make the same mistake.
    • Positive self-talk goes miles!


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5 Perspective Shifts to Keep You Happy

At our summer camp in the Midwest, we strive to help our campers empower themselves. One way is to maintain a positive life perspective. From the good folks at Barking Up the Wrong Tree, here are some tricks to keep your perspective positive.

  • Amor Fati: Merely “accepting” life is not enough. You need the Platinum Pro package. Love every bit of life, good, bad, and ugly. (Yes, that includes traffic.)
  • Denial And Complaining Are The Enemy: Whatever it is, you will accept it eventually. So sooner is better. And whining is wasted energy. The universe doesn’t check its Complaint Box.
  • Flash Forward To The Future: Will this still bother you in a month? A year? Then don’t let it bother you now.
  • Treat Life As A Game: It’s no fun if it’s easy. If your personal story has no conflict, please do me a favor: don’t tell me your story. It’s boring. Do you want a boring life?
  • Feel Gratitude. For The Good And The Bad: You don’t know what, in the end, will be good or bad. So be grateful for it all. And then work to make the short term bad turn into long term good.

Check out the whole blog at this link.


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Final Reflections on the Anatomy of Peace – Heart at Peace

Here at Camp Kupugani, we name our cabins after influential people throughout history. One is named for Mahatma Gandhi, who voiced many inspirational thoughts during his life. One such quote from the Indian activist is “be the change you want to see in the world”. What does this quote mean to you?

In previous blogs regarding The Anatomy of Peace, we have discussed “self-deception” boxes and how to escape those boxes by supporting and challenging ourselves as individuals. Now we will briefly discuss the resulting potential change and how the heart can operate when it is at peace.

When this state is achieved, we understand that others are valuable and unique and view them as fellow humans. At Camp Kupugani, we use a multitude of activities to strive to bring about this understanding of others and to value the diversity and importance of everyone. This is reflected in our behavior in saying or doing things.

The diagram to the left represents a brief summary about the Arbinger Institute’s Anatomy of Peace.

Creating and maintaining the “Heart of Peace” is paramount to self-development from youth into adulthood and throughout life. Below are some camper quotes regarding Camp Kupugani and how it has invited them to change and find that heart at peace.

  • “It’s a place where I can learn more about myself and others. It’s a chance to meet more people and challenge myself to be a better person.”
  • “I learned that you really can’t judge a book by its cover but by its contents.”
  • “I like Camp Kupugani because it helps build a strong woman inside of a young girl. You get to have a lot of fun experiences and make new friends. Kupugani helps you overcome being scared and lets you be free.”
  • “It helped me become more confident and it helped me get out of my comfort zone.”
  • “I love the fact that it is a camp built for fun and leadership, that it is multicultural and brings people together, allowing you to meet new friends that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

Reading these quotes, do you think the campers are aware of the changes we have invited them to make? At Camp Kupugani, one of our unique methods of facilitating with children is to offer a freedom of choice; simply by providing young people with the tools to change themselves, they can reach a much more empowered conclusion by themselves rather than being dictated to.

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict, The Arbinger Institute, 2006, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.


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More Reflections on the Anatomy of Peace – Pyramid of Change

Our last blog regarding the Anatomy of Peace discussed getting out of the boxes of objectifying others; this forms the basis of the pyramid of change.  Once we have exited the box, we can build relationships, actively listen to support people, and challenge people to bring about their own changes. 

The Anatomy of Peace explains that–for us to solve a problem at one level of the pyramid, we need to focus on building a stronger relationship–a the deeper level of the pyramid of change.  (I.e. I might be willing to listen to your concerns, but if you do not want to share them with me, we’re not there yet.)

Although people cannot be wholly changed by others, they can be invited to change by giving them tools and advice.  When inviting this change, we tend to focus entirely on the problem and not the solution. Hearing words like “criticize”, “fix”, “punish”, “correct”, etc.”–do you associate these with negativity or positivity?  These words mean we think that there is a problem. Have you ever been motivated to change when someone tells you how wrong you have been? Usually not; instead of adapting a new approach, people tend to get frustrated and simply try harder to force the change, leading to conflict.  Making mistakes is another natural process we all do and that is accepted here at Camp Kupugani, as every mistake is a new experience to learn from.

What we aim to continue to cultivate at camp is giving campers the ability to resolve the inevitable conflicts which arise throughout life in a healthy and developmental way with the use of “I-statements” and “clean-up” methods among others.

Our counselors and staff go through rigorous curriculum training every season to provide a strong foundation to support campers, but more importantly to challenge them; this, in turn, invites them to change.  Here are some campers thoughts:

  • “I learned to respect differences and to work through challenges with support.”
  • “It’s a place where I can learn more about myself and others. It’s a chance to meet more people and challenge myself to be a better person.”
  • “I learned that ‘equality’ is not treating people the same.  ‘Equality’ is treating people based on their needs.”
  • “I learned to keep calm and have fun and to never give up no matter what.”

As you read those quotes, do you think that the campers have been giving support to arrive at their own conclusions about the challenges they faced?  From understanding people from other cultures to crossing the popular–yet initially daunting–two-wire bridge at camp–all campers feel confident enough to overcome and exceed their own expectations.  They are on their way to implementing their pyramid of change.


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How to Overcome Self Deception

After reading The Anatomy of Peace, we choose a few aspects of this thought-provoking work to apply to our values here at camp.  The book elucidates four kinds of “self-deception boxes” we can get into – the four ways that we can see others as objects rather than seeing them as people. The boxes are:

  • “Better-than” box – you see yourself as better than other people. They’re not as human as you because you simply are better.
  • “I-deserve” box – The key word is entitlement. You don’t see others as people because you’re not getting what you believe you’re entitled to.
  • “Must-be-seen-as” box – In this box, you are focused on your appearance – and because of that, you can’t see folks as people. You’re too focused on how you appear to be.
  • “Worse-than” box – In this box, you believe that you’re not worthy and therefore can’t relate to others as a caring person.

Being able to understand these boxes is a great first step toward self-awareness.  Subsequently, developing and striving to get out of the box can be hugely satisfying.

What box do you consider yourself to be in?  What makes you come to that conclusion? Are there specific instances in your life when you have thought of yourself as: better than someone, entitled to something, tried to appear to others differently, or thought you are worse than others?

We directly address the “Better-than” and “I-deserve” boxes at camp with our fluid diversity curriculum of addressing stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination (whether intentional or not).  The “Must-be-seen-as” and “Worse-than” boxes are addressed throughout our empowerment program and body image and health modules.

Some of our past camper quotes indicate our emphasis on cultivating a culture of being willing to change.  While reading some of the following quotes, you may be able to see which box that the camper was in at the time of writing:

  • “I love camp Kupugani because it teaches people that it is ok to be yourself and because of all the fun camptivities.”
  • “(Camp) allows me to find out more about myself, make new friends, and to be me without influence from outside forces.”
  • “I love Camp Kupugani because it teaches me to not hate myself.”
  • “I love Camp Kupugani because of the many different and wonderful people of many cultures and I can meet them and make new friends.”
  • “The most important thing I learned at camp was not to be sexist or discriminating.”

Our campers benefit from the anatomy of peace that we cultivate here at Camp Kupugani–giving them the tools to better themselves and to escape these self-deception boxes.

In the next blog spurred by our reading Anatomy of Peace, we discuss possible ways to get out of your box as we strive to not just find peace, but to create it.


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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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