After spending over 50 summers of his life at Camp Highlander, our beloved Leigh “Tim” Harris, Mr. H, passed away Saturday, February 6th, surrounded by his favorite people, his children, Donna, Leigh, Dale and Timmy. This week at camp has been filled sadness, yet overwhelming gratitude and beautiful reflection on the life, love and legacy of our precious Mr. Harris!
Mr. Harris dedicated his life to championing children, helping them become the best version of themselves. He had an amazing ability to connect with each and every person he met, making them feel valued, capable and important to the world around them. He spent many years as a Math teacher and wrestling coach at Pine Crest School, but his true passion was Camp Highlander.
Mr. Harris began his journey at Camp Highlander in 1965, when Camp Highlander was owned by Pine Crest School and located at the campus in Highlands, North Carolina. When Pine Crest approached him about working at camp that first summer, Mr. Harris happily agreed, with the support of his wife Betty, to pack up and head to the mountains. His first summer at Highlander Mr. H was the counselor of the oldest boys cabin. The following summer, he became Program Director, then Assistant Director and eventually Director.
Most of our cherished traditions at Camp Highlander started in the heart and mind of Mr. Harris. From campfire to Color War, Mr. H built more than a camp, he built a family. The Camp Highlander family will live on for generations to come because one man lived out his commitment to serve children by creating magical memories through the camp experience.
Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people
Those who had the privilege to work for Mr. Harris knew him to uphold the highest standards for excellence and service. He believed in his team and was proud of their work. He was incredibly supportive and knew the best times and the right ways to challenge people. He was honest, witty and kind, a man who inspired trust, loyalty and respect.
Someone once told me that the power of a person’s life is the stories they leave behind. What a powerful life Mr. Harris led! He has left thousands of stories in our hearts and lives that make us smile with sweet memories, reflect with awe and wonder or even belly laugh til we cry. These stories are woven into the fabric of our summers past and future. We, as a Camp Highlander family, are forever changed as individuals and as a camp because of the life, love and legacy of Mr. H. We are forever grateful to his family for sharing him with us, allowing us to know him as a father-figure, role model, mentor and friend.
Ninety-two wonderful years. Sixty-four years blissfully wed. Four amazing children. Thirteen beautiful grandchildren. Fifteen precious great-grandchildren. Fifty years as a camp director. Thousands of men, women, boys and girls impacted because of his commitment, dedication and vision for Camp Highlander.
With gratitude for the life, love and legacy of Mr. Harris, we have dedicated a tree, in the Gratitude Grove of our new assembly court, to honor his years of service to Camp Highlander and our mountain. We love you Mr. H!
To learn more about the History of Camp Highlander as told by Mr. H, click here for our History of Highlander video.