Fenger Pointing

Becky Fenger | February 10, 2010

| More

Becky FengerLanguage of liberty

When I was a little girl, every summer I looked forward to Girl Scout camp where we slept in tents, swam in the lake, made lanyards, learned to use a bow and arrow, and did our best to fend off mosquitoes and chiggers. Now I'm just as excited to learn about a different sort of camp founded by the Language of Liberty Institute, a non-profit corporation established in the State of Arizona in May of 2005 by its executive director, Glenn Cripe.

The goal of these Liberty Camps is "to prepare individuals to develop the civil institutions of free societies, whether in emerging democracies, developing countries, or over-regulated and over-governed countries of the West." The camps run for one week in resort settings overseas, using local folks who partner with various Language of Liberty Institute staffers. The aim is to give attending students the tools to help them lead freer lives by exploring in the English language classical works in philosophy and economics and, in turn, teaching them how to apply these ideas to starting a business or other ventures.

Cripe and his fellow director, Andy Eyschen, are adamant about conducting all their programs in English, since the English language is known to be the language of liberty, opportunity and freedom. Good for them. I have always felt that the quickest way to deny the American dream to immigrants would be to prevent them from speaking English.

The original Liberty English Camps were started in Lithuania in 1997 by Steve Browne, Virgis Daukas and Jaroslav Romanchuk, who provided guidance to the Language of Liberty directors who have gone on to establish camps in Poland, Slovakia, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan and Slovenia. In 2010, they look forward to expanding to Macedonia, Portugal, Germany, Ukraine and Burkina Faso.

For each camp, 30 to 40 young people (usually university students) from the area are brought together, plus a few from nearby countries, with a staff of four to six. They spend five days full of lectures, small group discussions, debates, workshops, presentations, and a talent show!

The attendees really enjoy practicing their English language skills with native speakers and looking forward to becoming the leaders of tomorrow, in every sense of the word, in their respective countries. They are all exceptionally bright, ambitious and motivated. It's gratifying to learn that the camps have ushered through over 800 students.

These students have grown up in (newly) free countries and understand that they have unprecedented freedom and opportunity. But they do not know how to use this opportunity. They need guidance. Their parents and teachers did not grow up with this freedom, so the older generation cannot provide the necessary guidance, even if they wanted to do so.
That is why the Language of Liberty Institute makes such an impact with their Liberty Camps. It's not just the ideas presented. It's the reality of their presence there, as living examples, and potential long-term mentors and teachers and even, perhaps, business partners or investors.

glenn cripeDuring the months between camps Glenn Cripe works to find more teachers and funding, to expand the network and to publicize the camps by attending and speaking at conferences and seminars around the globe. I am pleased to hear that he is on site to make certain that the classes run smoothly and – even better – to review each day's results in a staff meeting.

People often ask Cripe why he puts so much time, energy and money into this project. By expanding the freedom of others, he says he expands his own freedom. When asked why he doesn't conduct these camps at home here, he tells us he has to go where the demand is and where his product is rare. So far the greatest interest and opportunity is in the developing countries where they're still trying to shake off the legacy and cultural effects of communism.

For that, we should all be thankful for his Institute.

Glenn Cripe
Courtesy Photo