Campus is quiet today. Campers will not arrive for the opening of Treetops for another 48 hours or so, and most counselors are enjoying a well earned day off—for many, the first in nearly two weeks of intensive training and preparation.
A few days ago, I met with the Treetops staff, as I do every year, as part of their orientation. I introduced a concept called the Golden Circles, developed by Simon Sinek, an expert on organizational change and leadership. Sinek suggests that most institutions spend the vast majority of their time, energy, and resources focused on the what and the how of operations—and subsequently get bogged down in the attendant details. What’s more inspiring and productive—but seldom a topic of consideration or discussion—is the why. So I asked Treetops counselors to ponder three “why” questions relevant to their summer. Of most interest to me was the third: Why are you here?
Each one who volunteered a response drew murmurs of accord from others around the room; answers expressed clearly resonated with those present. The general consensus is that our counselors come to Treetops to spend a summer outdoors, in a spectacularly beautiful place, in nature’s front row. Counselors come to Treetops because they treasure the close community here among children and adults. Veteran counselors come because their peers share their values and help raise their own children accordingly. Younger counselors come because their more experienced counterparts help them grow into the adults they want to be. Counselors of all ages come because here they can relax and be themselves.
Not coincidentally, these also seem to be the reasons why our campers come to Treetops. We’re looking forward to another great summer, our 94th.
P.S. I highly recommend as a “must see” a terrific new TED Talk by one of my favorites, Sir Ken Robinson: How to Escape Education’s Death Valley.