Dear LPC’ers and Friends,
This annual newsletter brings to you, our counselors, supporters and community members, information about and a report from the Christmas Conference 2018/19 (CC), the annual general meeting of LPC International. We would like to inform you about how it went.
The CC took place from December 26th to January 3rd at the Ecole d’Humanité in Hasliberg-Goldern, Switzeland.
This year’s participants were: Anne Bunckenburg, Tom Speirs, Laia Fabre, Debby Drew (representing the board), Natalie von Tscharner, Tom Kasebacher, Francesca Meme, Bruna Melis, Jesse Smith*, Nina Horakova, Julia Fiebig, Till Schwantes, Michiel Blumenthal, Becky Jiron, Ylva Sköndahl*, Terence McCormack, Travis McCoy Fuller*, Rose Cowan, Colin Townes Anderson, Tommaso Besozzi*, Mark Jordans, Katia Verreault, Tom Streit, Sonia Benenson, Fabienne Abuzanad*, Sayam Jordans**
* only there for part of the CC ** for the discussion on counselor participation
Cooks: Patrik Davidek, Kai Migliaccio
Babysitters: Nico Jacobs and Laurie Boissenin
Many people give their time, energy and skills to make LPC work. Along with the administrator, the treasurer, the directors, camp staffs, LPC Inc., support groups, etc., there are also several committees that take care of specific matters, on an ongoing (i.e. finances) or ad hoc (i.e. World Gathering) basis. As of the end of the CC they were: Excom (the Executive Committee), Fincom (finances), DIT (director training), TIGER, Online Information Storage, Sexual Consent, Website, Fundraising, Camper and Counselor participation at the CC, Strategic Plan, ECO Search, Database Search, GDPR, Endowment, Vans in the US.
REPORTING FROM 2018
We heard about the camps held the previous summer (Hegnes, Kiidi, YLI at Oriolo, Birch Point, Klino and Freedom), had reports from Excom, European Central Office (ECO), LPC Inc. (formerly “the Board”), the Fundraising Committee and several support groups (Swiss, SF Bay Area / US West Coast, British, Italian, Dutch and Hegnes), as well as from the World Gathering.
The WG was a great success and great fun thanks to everyone (a large group of people!) who helped to organize it, particularly Tomasz Chilarski, Sue Howells and KC Hill who orchestrated the whole event.
The actual event felt very short and was packed with activities, but it was felt that it’s better to have people leave wanting more rather than feeling that the whole thing should have been a day shorter.
A good amount of money was raised for camp by charging only a modest amount per person.
A lot of people really put in a lot of extra time (Putz, EP, Shop etc..) to make it all work smoothly.
In 2019 we will have camps in Freedom (for younger campers), Birch Point (older campers), Hegnes (older), Klino (younger), Kiidi (younger), Ecole d’Humanité (older) and a Hiking Camp in the Pyrenees (older).
The process of making up the camps for the following summer is a complex exercise that requires checking the available sites, deciding who is going to direct, where and with whom (for camps with more than one director), and then selecting the staffs and camper groups. This is quite time consuming, and is spread out over several days. Many times the directors meet alone, while the rest of the participants meet in committees or take care of other jobs. One such job is the selection of the camper groups for each camp, in which we strive to make diverse groups that make sense for each camp, while taking account of everyone’s holiday dates, travel possibilities, etc.
The hiking camp was only finalised after the end of the CC because the directors needed to check French regulations to make sure we would be allowed to do a camp in this format in France.
We also selected the counselors who are going to be trained in-camp in order to become directors, and the directors who will train them.
We had a string of discussions on different points having to do with how we run the camps and our organization.
We are looking at how we can reduce our carbon footprint, especially in relation to travel (flying, car use). Julia Fiebig will bring information to the next CC in order to continue this discussion on a more knowledgeable basis next year.
The new website is now online, after much work by Joe and others. During the CC Debby and Michiel collected feedback from participants in order to finalize it, and translators were found for the last translations needed. The CC approved the final version before it went live.
Vans in Birch Point and Freedom: we are moving towards no longer owning the vehicles for the US campsites, and renting them instead. This would be more environmentally friendly for several reasons. This year we are renting vehicles on a trial basis to fine-tune the process, with the goal of selling the remaining vehicles in the near future.
A fairly intense discussion tackled issues related to the archive we keep, with documents going back to the begginning of LPC in 1949. The archive is now housed at the Ecole d’Humanité, which made a commitment, during this CC, to keep it on their premises at least for the time being. We need clear rules about which documents to keep and how to regulate access to them, balancing people’s right to privacy with the importance of making the historical record available to researchers. This discussion will continue in the future and for now access is limited to exceptional circumstances.
We also discussed aspects of our director training process, and matters related to medical forms the campers have to take to camp, pre-camp training of staff, evaluation of directors, information about the Ecole d’Humanité given in camp, our sexual harassment policy, the risk assessment form directors have to fill out at the beginning of each camp, our database, drones in camp (not to be encouraged!), background checks for staff and some other minor points.
The Christmas Conference Report 2017-18 was formally approved.We thanked Michiel Blumenthal for his term on Excom, which came to an end after three years, and appointed Tommaso Besozzi as the new member, for a three-year term.
Camper participation at CC
A comprehensive discussion on camper participation in the CC was held. Sayam Jordans had taken the feedback and comments from CC 17/18 to Klino ‘18, where he took them to the campers. The idea is to have a camper committee, or a committee of campers and counselors, who would have a degree of participation in the Christmas Conference. This committee would report on the camps from a camper perspective, bring up points and take part in discussions.
Several questions were raised in Klino and at the CC on how this could be implemented in practical terms and on what would be the precise purpose of this committee. The Christmas Conference took a positive view and it was decided that Natalie von Tscharner and Sayam will work on it and bring a more concrete concept to CC 19/20.
ECO Administrator Position
LPC’s European Central Office (ECO), housed at the Ecole d’Humanité, provides a great deal of the administrative work that is necessary to run LPC. Sonia Benenson, who has been in charge of ECO for many years, is now nearing retirement, and her successor must be found.
In connection with this, our relationship with the Ecole d’Humanité also comes into play. Our bond with the Ecole is old and deep, and we must take care to nurture it. But while united by this bond, which has been invaluable to LPC, we also realise that we are two separate organizations which make adult decisions about how they relate to each other.
We had a wide-ranging discussion on the relationship between LPC and the Ecole and the transition to a new administrator for ECO. A committee was created to finalize the job description and initiate the search for the person who will continue Sonia’s work, based on input from Sonia and Excom as well as from the Christmas Conference.
During CC, Excom met with Katja Braun (Director of the Ecole) to further discuss options and sign an updated LPC-Ecole cooperation agreement. The Ecole reaffirmed its willingness to continue to house ECO and to combine the function of ECO administrator with the job of an Ecole staff member, allowing us to orient our search toward a person who will take a position in the Ecole in which they will dedicate a certain number of hours to the running of ECO.
A committee was formed to ensure LPC complies to the relevant provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union.
Commitment to Freedom
This year’s Christmas Conference provided an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the camp house in Freedom and to acknowledge and appreciate the role of LPC Inc. (formerly “the Board”) within our larger organization (officially “LPC International”). This summer will be the 60th (in a row) in which we hold a camp in the beloved house on Moulton Road, which is entirely owned by LPC Inc. and painstakingly maintained for the sole purpose of hosting LPC camps. On this it was noted that the twice-yearly Work Weekends are valuable beyond their primary purpose of taking care of maintenance work on the house, as LPC activities that bond many people to our organization and its ideals.
As a result of a lot of work done in the past three years, the mission statement committee was able to submit a final wording for approval at CC: “Luethi Peterson Camps promotes understanding through international summer camps where young people of diverse backgrounds build community and establish lasting friendships.”
It was easily approved without any changes, after acknowledging that it is in the nature of a mission statement to be short and general. Nevertheless, during the discussion many people pointed out how deep and true its simple wording rings to our ears and reverberates in our hearts. Reflecting on the ways in which this simple statement expresses what we hold dear in LPC was a beautiful moment in the conference.
After a decision to make a strategic plan, from CC 14/15, had remained dead letter, this year the Fundraising Committee (Fundcom) raised the matter again, because having such a plan in place would help us raise funds with potential donors who find it a helpful yardstick to decide who they want to fund.
We discussed the pros and cons of investing time and resources to draw up such a plan, agreeing that it should not merely be a gesture to attract donors but help us to structure our goals for the future, and that it must reflect and respect the uniqueness of LPC. We took time to gather input from the group, to be fed into the development of this plan.
A committee was created and tasked with designing and carrying out a process that will produce a strategic plan for LPC, to be presented for consideration to the next Christmas Conference, in 2019-20. An amount of money was budgeted that the committee will be able to draw from to meet expenses in creating the strategic plan, with the understanding that it will strive to contain costs and obtain any necessary financing from outside sources if possible.
Next CC Dates
The Christmas Conference 2019/2020 will take place from December 27th (starting at dinner) to January 4th (ending at putzpause).
The financial discussions and decisions were as follows:
- We decided to move the money held in our investment account to an investment fund that is more ethical and sustainable.
- The World Gathering raised CHF 16,300. We decided to put this money into the LPC general fund, to be used toward all aspects of running LPC, including counselor travel, reduced tuition and supporting newcomers’ participation in LPC.
- We clarified the rules concerning travel assistance for CC support staff (cooks and babysitters).
- We accepted the report from the auditors who reviewed our finances.
- We accepted the financial report for 2018 and approved the budget for 2019.
- We set the 2020 tuition as follows: deposit EUR 290; reduced tuition EUR 225; full tuition EUR 290; sponsorship tuition EUR 356.
- We reviewed the procedure for allocating counselor travel assistance.
- We discussed a proposal to set up an endowment fund for LPC, where money raised and put into it would accrue interest to be used for various forms of financial assistance (scholarships for newcomers and other persons in need, counselor travel, etc.). We decided that this in principle is a good idea, and Fundcom will look further into it and bring a proposal to CC 19/20.
We rounded up our conferencing with two rounds of evaluation, one to express what could have been different and another of highlights. One of the frustrations expressed was that the schedule seemed even tighter than in previous conferences, perhaps due to how much time it took to finalise the camps for 2019, which meant that for the many people involved in this process (directors and those assisting them) the pace was especially demanding, with very few breaks.
This did not mean that we didn’t have moments of fun, such as folkdancing (see the picture on the first page), singing, evening games and of course the New Year’s Eve party, all of which were mentioned among the highlights of the conference, along with many moments and achievements during the conferencing itself.
To conclude, I would like to apologize for sending the newsletter so late in the year, mostly my (Tommaso’s) fault. Hopefully it’s not an entirely bad time to receive it, just before the camps start in seven sites across Europe and North America, where for a few weeks at a time the melody of Good Night to You All will mark the close of each day.
Love to all, camp-bound or not,
Nina, Francesca and Tommaso