History of Summa Institute

Summa Institute was founded in 1985 to promote positive, healthy development in children and adults. Since its founding, it has brought awareness of child development to thousands of parents and teachers through programs for children, families, and schools.

1985 - Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Josette and Ba Luvmour founded EnCompass – The Center for Natural Learning Rhythms (NLR) in order to increase curriculum options for homeschoolers and students challenged in traditional education, and to bring awareness of child development to parents and teachers.

1991 – Combined NLR insights with challenge course and outdoor education elements to pioneer the field of whole family experiential learning. The first program offered was called Family Camp. The initial camp was a huge success, with 2 week-long Family Camps filled to capacity every summer for the subsequent 12 years.

1993 - Through the generosity of a few involved individuals, we took title to an undeveloped 122-acre parcel of rural land on the outskirts of Nevada City, California.

1996 - Held our first Family Camp on our land. The outstanding excellence of our programs and the expansion of our fund raising efforts led to rapid development of the land.

2000 - More than four million dollars were raised. The Conference Center was built in the spring and a School opened to students in the fall. We served thousands of people through our seminars, workshops, family programs, challenge courses, child and teen adventures, school and conferences.

2002 - A combination of significant challenges simultaneously occurred which severely impacted program attendance: the height of the dot-com bust (many of our program attendees lost jobs), the economic, social, and political events surrounding 9/11, plus a non-appropriate person in the role as School Director who was unable to navigate the challenge surge. As a result, it was decided to remain in good standing and sell the land.

2003 - With brighter prospects ahead and the desire to continue the decades of research and education already set forth, we chose to relocate to the forward-thinking community of Portland, OR. The combination of affordable housing, an appealing demographic to engage educators, and a great quality of life made practical and professional sense.

2004 - EnCompass paid all lien-holders in full and all other outstanding debts with the proceeds, leaving the organization with approximately one year of operating funds to begin a solid structure. We spent the next four years running our popular programs for the parents, teens, children and professionals of the Portland community at other’s locations both urban and rural.

2010 - After taking the time to truly learn about the community and engage with partners, families, and teachers in meaningful ways, it was time to re-strategize the business model into the vision you see now, the Summa Institute. We started the search for a permanent home for Summa and the funding to successfully launch. With diligence and clarity of our vision and what we were seeking, we eventually found the best location to ensure the stability and success of our long-term goals.


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