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Treating Organizational History as an Old Friend

Organization history can act like an old friend or jilted lover. It depends on how you treat her.

The secret is to understand the nuances of the organization’s history including what’s sacred and what’s not, then respecting the sacred even if it’s detrimental to the organization. If it is detrimental then change it. But work to preserve what’s good while only changing what needs changing.

When SpringHill has approached its organizational history in this way the results have been honoring to its history as well as moved the organization forward. Our New Frontiers Dining Hall at our Michigan overnight camp is a good example.

About 10 years ago we outgrew this Dining Hall. But because it’s the first major building built at SpringHill it’s full of history. For example there’s a miracle story about the beams and another about committed volunteers who made the very cool lighting fixtures.

Then there’s the fireplace. It’s sacred ground because it’s the spot where, over the years, 100’s of camp speakers stood as they shared their messages. As a result 1000’s of people had life transformational experiences as they looked upon that fireplace.

This meant tearing down the Dining Hall was not an option even if the cost of expanding and renovating was the same as building new. Instead we added to, renovated and built around the sacred parts of the building, designing it to feel and look like an updated version of the original.

The result is we have a building that does two important things. First it preserves our history and allows us to continue to tell the important God stories which make up our past. Secondly we now have a Dining Hall that serves both our needs and most importantly the needs of our campers and guests.

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