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Character Development Blog Posts

Mindfulness Tips from a GPS

At Camp Kupugani, our overnight summer camp in the Midwest, we emphasize positive conflict resolution as we strive to have a peaceful community.  

I was listening to a radio station the other day, where the guest (Sylvia Boorstein) was emphasizing that we always have a choice in how we react to things.  We can choose indignation or, like a GPS does when confronted with a new path, we can choose “recalculating…”

We can choose to be indignant over a real or perceived slight.  Or, we can choose to try to empathize with the “other”.

When something doesn’t go our way, we can take a moment, maybe take a breath, and consider choosing a different path that doesn’t lead to our elevated blood pressure, temper, or whatever.

Like a GPS when we continue down whatever road we missed when the GPS told us to turn…we can emphasize “recalculating…”.  No animus necessary … no anger … no feeling stressed or bad…just “recalculating…” We can figure that the new required path that will still get us to where we need to go.

How about instead of righteous anger, we strive to go for “recalculating…”  What do you say?


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5 Easy Ways To Make Your Life Fantastic

Camp Kupugani (located close to Chicago and Madison) is a Midwest summer camp providing overnight camp experiences for kids ages 7-15. We want all of our families to live their best lives.  A recent article can help with just that. Read our bullets below and check out the full article here.

  • The True Enemy Is “Reverse FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
    • Living too much online means missing real-life interaction
    • Constant phone use cuts time into small increments.
    • Too much phone time make us worse at connecting with others.
  • Forget Lifehacks — Start with Values
    • Use tech for good, not evil.
    • Make a decision on how to use your phone.
    • Be intentional in setting up technology rules for yourself and your family.
  • Try a Long Walk without a Phone
    • We need less reacting and more reflecting.
    • Read a real book (i.e. with actual pages you can turn).
  • “High-Quality Analog Leisure”
    • Pick up a new tech-free hobby.
    • Schedule time away from your tech.
  • Make Awesome Plans with Friends
    • Plan a game night with friends.
    • Catch up with friends in-person or in real-time voice (i.e. avoid texting or messaging)

Article Source:


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8 Steps to Personal Empowerment

At Camp Kupugani, our Midwest summer camp near Chicago and Madison, one of our core values is empowerment.  At camp, we empower our campers in varied ways. For adults and kids not camp, we came across an article from with some great empowerment tools.  Read our bulleted takeaways below, and/or click here to read the full article. Personal Empowerment

  • Be open to possibilities
    • Believe in yourself
      • Find that place where anything and everything is possible
    • Be open-minded
  • Focus on who you are
    • Try something even if you don’t think you can do it
      • “Everyone was once a novice at everything”
    • Be true to yourself
    • Don’t focus on the “unfair” around you
      • Focus on what you can do to make things fair
  • Run your own race
    • Focus inwards to what you are doing
      • “The grass is always greener” mentality does not support empowerment
  • Trust yourself
    • Don’t doubt your skills
    • If you can dream it, you can do it
    • Take calculated risk to build self-trust
  • Network
    • Collaborate, don’t compete
      • Working with others helps you to find your place
      • Help find people that fill in your deficiencies on a team
      • Competition creates division
  • Love what you do
    • Work doesn’t feel like work when you love it
    • Setbacks don’t hit as hard
  • Hold yourself with grace
    • “You get more flies with honey than vinegar”
    • Resist “fighting fire with fire” when people might seem like they’re acting against you
  • Embrace imperfection
    • Failure helps us learn and grow
    • “Evolve” rather than “dissolve” in times of crisis



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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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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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