As early as the 1930’s, Lowell Whiteman had a dream to start a boys’ summer camp in the Rocky Mountains. He felt it would complement a famous all-girls’ camp nearby called Perry Mansfield, which specialized in theater and dance. An avid camper, outdoorsman, and equestrian, he saw an opportunity to provide young men with the chance to grow and test their mettle in the surrounding wilderness, doing the same things he himself enjoyed growing up.
Lowell’s vision was sidetracked for four years while serving as a deck officer for the Navy in WWII. He was involved in five invasions in the Mediterranean Theater and ultimately awarded a Navy Commendation for an amphibious landing on the island of Elba. Upon his return to the United States in 1946, he opened the Lowell Whiteman Ranch for boys.
All campers learned to ride and care for a horse, mastering everything from grooming to fence building. Lowell felt viewing the Rocky Mountains from the back of a horse enriched the human spirit. He combined this philosophy with a comprehensive camping program, believing that “roughing it” led to character enhancement. Learning, he said, was a daily occupation that should continue for a lifetime.
Campers learned to work with their hands, and participating in the chores developed a sense of sharing the load. Students who had never had such opportunities before took with them a wealth of formative experiences and stories to tell. The word spread about the Whiteman Ranch. In 1957, Lowell’s philosophy expanded to include academics when the ranch camp transitioned to the Lowell Whiteman School and became a private, co-educational college preparatory boarding school. Lowell’s dream now made room for desks and challenging academics–a natural companion to outdoor adventure and his belief that all learning was a daily occupation.
Camping and outdoor education are still pillars of the LWS program. Activities added over the years such as climbing, biking, kayaking, cayoneering and skiing follow the adventure credo Lowell established. The Global Studies program was a natural extension of Lowell’s experiential educational program and his adventure spirit. In the early days, he felt the foreign trips should include Third World countries where students could fully experience life without the creature comforts. He wanted students to be challenged in a way that would make them adapt to, and embrace, what they were seeing and learning. Lowell felt it was essential for students to learn to value their own cultures and freedoms, as well as to understand and appreciate those of other countries.