Founded in 1949, the Luethi-Peterson Camps (LPC) are nonprofit co-ed summer camps in different countries whose aim is to foster international understanding by bringing together children from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Members of Luethi-Peterson Camps believe that good human relations and responsible community living can best be learned by personal experience at an early age.
LPC believes that strife among people of different national, racial, and religious backgrounds stems from fear of the unknown, that both fear and ignorance can be overcome by bringing together young people from differing backgrounds and giving them the opportunity to live, work, play, and learn together over a period of several weeks in summer camps.
It is the firm conviction of this organization that such experience provides the necessary basis for a better understanding among peoples as well as the independent thinking, self-reliance, and sense of responsibility needed by the individual participants to deal with a world which grows steadily smaller and a world population increasingly interdependent.
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).
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.
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. LPC Incorporated owns a large farmhouse in Freedom, New Hampshire. LPC International is able to regularly use this site and 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 where LPC camps are being held this year.