Living as a Leader

Leaving a Place Better Than You Found It!

Todd Leinberger, Murphy Felton (former SpringHill staff and current Mount Hermon Staff) and Lisa Olson

In spending time in the wilderness I’ve learned two ethical approaches to the impact one should have on the environment when spending time in it.

The first I learned as a Boy Scout. “Leave a place better than you found it.” This meant not only leaving no mark but also removing any marks left by others.

The second ethic is “leave no trace” meaning do no harm as a result of being in the wilderness. This ethic is inherent in the Boy Scout ethic but assumes others will take care of themselves.

I’ve been thinking of these ethical approaches this week as Todd Leinberger and myself spent a couple of days at Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center located between San Jose and Santa Cruz, California in the heart of Redwood country. It’s obvious that Mount Hermon and the people of California have an ethic of preserving the beauty of this area.

As part of our visit we spend some time with Lisa Olson, current Mount Hermon executive who spent 22 years on staff at SpringHill. Over dinner I asked Lisa to look back over her tenure at SpringHill and share her proudest contribution.

She didn’t hesitate in answering. Her proudest contribution was that she and her husband Mark led SpringHill to a place where it could multiply itself, a process that took 15 years, resulting in the creation of our Indiana camp.

As I listened to Lisa I realized these two wilderness ethics represent the same ethical options we have when we are part of an organization, community or family.

Lisa and Mark Olson clearly lived out the “leave it better than we found it” ethic. For which I’m thankful.

For me I’m still a Boy Scout at heart. That’s why I too am committed to a “leaving a place better than I found it” ethic whether it’s my work at SpringHill, my volunteer roles in the community or more importantly in my relationships with my family and friends.


  • April Gann

    Love the picture, love the people, and love the way you talked about this, Michael. I’m a big fan of “leave no trace” in the wilderness. But, having never been a boy scout, I didn’t think about the contrast with that statement. Thanks for applying it to leadership!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: