For 20 plus years, Phil Lilienthal (Ethiopia) has been making a difference


Phil Lilienthal went to Ethiopia in the Peace Corps with his lovely wife Lynn after graduating from the University of Virginia law school in 1965. He worked as a PCV lawyer with a variety of Ethiopian government offices in Addis Ababa, and while there, also started Ethiopia’s first permanent summer camp program. For two years he had two-week summer camps for over 280 Ethiopian children. When his Peace Corps tour was over, he turned the summer camp over to the YMCA and they ran it for 7 more years until Emperor Haile Selassie was removed from power and a new dictatorship closed down the camp.

Returning to the States and Washington, D.C. Phil continued for five years with the Peace Corps as the Attorney Regional Director Advisor, then was on the PCV staff of Mindanao Island for a year, and two years as the Deputy Director in Thailand.

In 1974, following the unexpected death of his father Howard, Phil took over the role of Director of Camp Winnebago in Maine that his father had established.

Phil Lilienthal (Ethiopia 1965-67)

Lilienthal’s tenure as camp director was marked by a number of achievements, including an increase in the number of international campers and counselors, the creation and expansion of a scholarship program for underprivileged youths, and the construction of a great number of new facilities, including new tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, volleyball and basketball courts, a hockey rink, a ropes course and a historically valuable museum on the premises. He served in the position until his retirement in 2003, when he passed control of the camp to his elder son, Andrew.

After retiring from Winnebago, Phil established Global Camps Africa, originally, WorldCamps—an organization dedicated to helping AIDS-affected youths throughout Africa. Camp Sizanani, Lilienthal’s first foray with Global Camps Africa, formed in partnership with South African NGO, HIVSA, has been a major success, creating a vital support network for some of South Africa’s neediest children. Lilienthal continues to work for AIDS-affected children throughout all of Africa. In June 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service by the Peace Corps.

For over twenty years 11,000 children had attended their camp in South Africa, and more than 73,000 young people have participated in their Youth Clubs.

If you looking for a nonprofit organization–started by an RPCV–to support, I urge you to consider Global Camps Africa. It’s one example of how an RPCV has made his work as a PCV, his lifetime job.

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  • Obviously, Phil Lilienthal is a resourceful visionary who is brilliant at implementing his humanitarian ideas – strategically bringing them to fruition. His positive attitude of making the impossible possible and keeping it going with his legions of volunteers for 20+ years both in Africa and in the USA is a credit to his magnetic leadership. I have witnessed this massive volunteer dedication for years on his committee for the annual benefit – which is always a sold out celebration. (Get your tickets early! 🙂 Thank you, Phil. You ARE the change we want and need to see in this world. With appreciation and awe, Geri

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