Be Kinder, Love Biggest

I am a huge fan of Wonder by R.J Palacio and an equally huge fan of Mr. Tushman, the principal of Beecher Prep who encourages us all to:

…always try to be a little kinder than necessary.

I was therefore intrigued when a friend went to pick her (fabulously awesome) daughter up from a month of summer camp and described the address given by the camp director as “Mr Tushman-esque”.  I had to know more.  I looked up the camp website to find out who the director was, read his bio, and didn’t really think much more than how fortunate these kids were who had experienced a little piece of Wonder in real life.

That was about a month ago.  Yesterday, a story jumped out of my news feed inviting me to join the Teton Valley Ranch Camp in farewelling their director (the “real-life Mr. Tushman”) and provided a link to his parting words.  I read them and could immediately ‘get’ the Tushman reference.  Smart, kind, funny, and thoughtful.  Mr. Holland recounts a story in which a camper shared with her group that the greatest lesson she had learned at camp was “to love biggest”. Putting aside the grammar, he held on to her sentiment and went on to say:

To love with all you have, with a child-like sense of magic and wonder, this is the true spirit of TVRC. People have often commented to me that I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I think in the end, I am proud of this.  I am proud of this because I try to not just lead with my head, but also my heart.  To pour my heart and love into everything I do daily – this, I believe will lead to a life fulfilled.

– Tom Holland, Teton Valley Ranch Camp

And right there is the connection to Mr. Tushman.  Mr. Tushman and Mr. Holland are leaders who both use their leadership position for good. They hold positions in which children and adults look to them for leadership and guidance and they choose to focus on things that matter: being kinder, loving biggest.

I don’t know Mr. Holland but I am certainly grateful to know that 15 years of campers, counsellors, parents, and families have had the good fortune to see a leader who takes a stand on qualities he believes are important, speaking not only for himself, but for his organization and emphasizing the values his community finds significant.

A few weeks back, I posted a quote from one of our first faculty meetings.  Part of that quote reads:

It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather.

Haim G. Ginott

I don’t think it is hard to imagine anything but clear skies and warm sunshine at the Teton Valley Ranch Camp under Mr. Holland’s leadership.  Can you say the same for your style of leadership?

After reading all this, I went to my mailbox and inside was a package.  Inside the package, my own little piece of TVRC.  When I wear it, I won’t only be reminded of the awesome kid who sent me the shirt, but to choose to be kinder, choose to love biggest.


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