What is LPC?

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First, a brief history…

Natalie Peterson (left) and Pavey Lupton (right), circa 1950.

In 1947, Natalie Peterson and Pavey Lupton, two Wellesley College students on their junior year abroad, traveled to war-ravaged Europe. Young and impressionable themselves, they were struck by the effect that the war had had on children, and by the end of their visit they had come up with a plan to bring together young people from different countries: a summer camp designed to build trust and international understanding. They called it Young Leaders International and opened the first camp in Switzerland in 1949; but later, when Natalie married Armin Luethi, the name was changed to “Luethi-Peterson Camps” (LPC).

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Natalie Luethi-Peterson at Freedom, New Hampshire, in 2007.

Although the LPC concept is widespread today, it was almost unheard of in 1949 and success was anything but assured. But succeed it did. Ten years later, two Luethi-Peterson Camps were held simultaneously, with the second camp organized and run by counselors Natalie had trained. As more children and young adults heard about LPC, the organization grew until as many as eight camps were taking place each year in several different countries. LPC never became one huge camp, however, because Natalie and her fellow counselors wanted to retain the small community feeling of the original summer camps.
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Campers at the campsite at Freedom, New Hampshire, in 2007.

Since then, some campsites have been used each summer for many years, availability permitting, because they are particularly well-suited to the needs of LPC. Others have only been available for one summer. LPC has held camps in various European countries and in the United States. The organization owns a large farmhouse in Freedom, New Hampshire, and is able to regularly use two other sites in Birch Point, Maine, and Hegnes, Norway, both of which are owned by former LPC directors. Now, each summer, a different number of camps take place in a range of locations across North America and Europe, all of them overseen by experienced LPC directors from around the world. See the list of past camps for more details on when and whereabouts LPC camps have been held in recent years.

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Daily life in summer camp…

Folk Dancing

LPC summer camps run between four and six weeks in length. Camps are run for either Younger Kids between 9 and 14 years of age, or Older Kids between 14 and 17 years of age. On average, each camp is attended by 24 campers and is run by eight counselors — just one big happy family, really! The LPC brochure contains further details on what to expect from summer camp, as does our overview of a typical day at an LPC camp.

Face Painting

Today, LPC is a non-profit volunteer organization whose aim is to foster international understanding by bringing together children from various cultural backgrounds. Through crafts, sports, music, and language study, LPC emphasizes self-government, guiding children to take responsibility not only for themselves but also for their community. LPC campers do a lot of their own cooking and cleaning and share in the decision-making process at camp. And, of course, they also have a lot of fun!

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How LPC works…

The LPC Central Office is located in the Ecole d’Humanité, an international school in Hasliberg-Goldern, Switzerland, which Natalie and Armin Luethi-Peterson directed for many years. Over the years, the school and the camp have mutually benefited each other as campers cross over to become students at the school and vice-versa.

LPC Counselors in St. Sulpice, Switzerland, 2010

Each December, LPC holds an annual “Christmas Conference.” At the conference, camp directors gather together for one week to discuss camp policy, to find solutions to problems that have arisen in previous camps, to evaluate the LPC program, and to plan camps for the following summer. It is at the Christmas Conference that all applications are considered and campers and counselors are placed in particular camps.

In the United States, LPC has a Board of Directors charged with maintaining the Freedom campsite and supporting the summer camps held there. Several other countries are home to Support Groups which help raise funds for campers’ fees, deliver supplies to any camps held nearby, and keep the LPC spirit alive around the world.

Finally, the LPC Executive Committee (ExCom) is comprised of three LPC directors who help to solve any problems within the organization throughout the year.

Contact details are available for the LPC Central Office and the Executive Committee.

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Finally…

Human pyramid: Birch Point, 2007.

LPC is a pretty special little group. We live simply, sing and dance a lot, try to learn each others’ languages, stay in touch during the “off-season,” and, despite all, are held together by the belief that we can make a difference! Applicants need only be open-minded. Staff members work long hours for a token salary, but they keep coming back for more!