Character Development Blog Posts

5 Ways to Establish Rituals That Will Make You Happy

At Camp Kupugani, our overnight summer camp that offers girls-only, boys-only, and blended (intentionally co-ed) programming, we want everyone to be reaching their happiness quotient every day. We strive each day to offer activities at camp that every camp will like. A recent article describes five rituals that will make you happy.  Check out our bullets below and read the full article here.

  • Challenge Unhelpful Thoughts
    • Is the thought you are having helpful?
    • Happiness is not determined by money, family, or being famous; instead, it is thought-based.
    • Listen to your thoughts, but don’t always believe them.
    • Avoid Black and White Thinking
      • Not everything is one or the other,
      • Your thoughts are the same.
    • Unrealistic Expectations
      • Make realistic goals for yourself.
      • Setting unrealistic expectations is a good way to mess with your happiness.
    • Selective Attention
      • Focus on positive thoughts more than negative.
      • Happiness can be a matter of perspective.
    • Disqualifying the Positive
      • Appreciate the positives.
      • Don’t focus too much on what needs to be fixed.
    • Predicting the Future
      • Try something even though you may not be feeling super positive about it.
      • Don’t count yourself out before you try.
    • “Should” thoughts
      • Remove the word “should”.
  • Do More Stuff
    • Being active takes away chances to get negatively introspective.
    • Pick something that matches these categories
      • Enjoyable stuff, 
      • Achievement stuff, 
      • Meaningful stuff,  
      • Physical stuff, 
      • Social stuff
    • Putting things on a calendar can make them a priority.
  • Get Social
    • Define your support group.
    • Socializing is a two-way street.
    • Share respectful/consensual physical contact with people.
    • Break ties with people who are not helpful to your well-being.
  • Slay Unhelpful Habits — Gently
    • No self-criticism; instead, self-reassurance
      • Think more about your positives than negatives.
      • “Beating yourself up won’t make you better. Liking yourself will.”
  • More Gratty-tood
    • Think about what matters to you and remind yourself to be thankful for those things.
    • Take action that shows your gratitude:
      • Write a thank you letter; 
      • Verbally express your gratitude;
      • Give that person a small token.


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3 Mindfulness Tips to Maximize Contentment

Here at Camp Kupugani (in northwest Illinois about 2 hours west of Chicago and 90 minutes south of Madison, Wisconsin) our overnight summer camp is all about helping our campers to be the best version of themselves. A recent article from Barking up the Wrong Tree explores some good mindfulness tips. Bullets below; click here to read the full article.  

  • Discount these four happiness myths
    • Myth 1: “Happiness Is the Natural State for All Human Beings”
      • Our brains are not programmed at birth for bliss.
      • Ups and downs are normal; embrace them!
    • Myth 2: “If You’re Not Happy, You’re Defective”
      • Nothing is wrong with you if you are not happy.
      • Life circumstances sometimes knock us on our butts.
    • Myth 3: “To Create a Better Life, We Must Get Rid of Negative Feelings”
      • It is what we do with the negative feelings that make us who we are.
    • Myth 4: “You Should Be Able to Control What You Think and Feel”
      • How well does “calm down” or “snap out of it” work for anyone?
      • “Influence”? Yes. “Control”? No.
      • Short term “solutions” (i.e. drinking or otherwise masking your feelings) are exactly that–only ephemeral.
  • You Are Not Your Thoughts
    • Not all thoughts in your head are facts.
    • Sometimes the voice in our head is someone else’s.
  • You Gotta Defuse
    • Think to yourself…Is this helpful? 
    • Will further exploration of this thought help me live the life I want?
    • Remove negative thoughts.
    • Thoughts are exactly that…just thoughts
      • Step Back and Isolate Them
        • Pausing allows you to take inventory of your thoughts.
      • Accept and Defuse
        • Focus on a particular negative thought and remove its power.
        • Don’t take negative thoughts too seriously.

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Why You Should Embrace Conflict

At Camp Kupugani, our summer camp near Chicago and Madison, we don’t run from conflict, seeing it as a productive and important part of personal interaction. A recent article from also elucidates this message. Bullets below, with the whole article available at this link:

  • The importance of conflict
    • You need to be able to work through opposing sides of an issue and come to a resolution
    • Conflict is part of strategic planning, resource allocation, product design, and talent management
  • Conflict debt
    • Sum of all the contentious issues we need to address in order to move forward


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3 Ways to “Selfishly” Be a Better Parent

At Camp Kupugani, our multicultural overnight summer camp in Northwest Illinois, we’re all about helping our campers to be the best version of themselves. We’ve recently finished up our Mother Daughter and Parent-Child Weekends, where many of our parents shared the struggle of being an intentional parent and managing the multiple responsibilities of being a good parent. One important theme is that as parents, we need to more often recognize taking care of ourselves (period…and also so that we can be good for and to others). Check out this article to see what She Knows has to say about prioritizing self-care. See below for our quick synopsis of the article and read the rest here

  • Plan solo time after traveling
    • Put time aside, as much as an entire day, purely to yourself. 
    • Do whatever you need to feel centered again. 
  • Make time to move
    • Plan ahead for your week and make time. 
  • Keep a journal – even if you have to keep it short 
    • Keep it short and sweet and focus on the things in your day that brought you joy and gratitude 

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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.

Here’s How:

  • 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)

Check out the full article here.


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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

Express Gratitude

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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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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