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The MacJannet Legacy Exploring the ideas of leadership, international understanding, and education through the lives and work of Donald and Charlotte MacJannet.


In my opinion, we were put on this earth with certain talents to use for the benefit of our fellow man as far as we are able, and to, perhaps, beautify and do our share in making the world a better place to live in. It's very simple, something to put into practice every day.

– Donald MacJannet. Transcript of an interview with Seymour Simches in 1979.
Donald MacJannet leading a hike through the mountains, ca. 1926

Donald MacJannet would not have said that he was a leader, he would have said he was an educator. In his Schools and in his Camp, he believed that an educator's (listen) job was to inspire students to work hard, to find out were their talents lay and to be better people. In this way he displayed keen leadership abilities. He may have felt that choices needed to be made for children in some instances but he also believed in trusting them by preparing them for any possibility (listen.) Many of the campers and students absorbed this idea and the philosophy became a part of their lives as well.

...the same ideals of tolerance, of training in teamwork, in respect for others, in trying to develop their talents in a positive way so that they could be helpful to others. ... we stressed respect.

– Donald MacJannet. Transcript of an interview with Seymour Simches in 1979.

Donald and Charlotte's work as leaders also lay in their belief that "we should work to help a community,"3 not just living for oneself but helping and sharing with their talents with those around them. Working as part of a community, be it small or large, was how Charlotte and Donald lived their lives. During and after WWII, they toiled endlessly to help a war stricken France. Their MacJannet Committee for Refugee Children raised money through talks and the showing of Donald's film 'France Rebuilds' to send packages of clothing and dried goods to France. The Entretiens de Talloires allowed attendees to share ideas and discussions on topics of importance.

A brochure for the School at Sun Valley listed "character training as a preparation for responsible citizenship and successful living is emphasized" as one of the advantages to sending a child there. Donald MacJannet instilled this belief in many of the children who passed through his school, camp or life.

Hard, diligent work was an integral part of Donald's leadership ability. Jean MacJannet Foster says of her brother: "Donald's motto was 'whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.' Fortunately Donald attracted to him such men as Emory, Jim Halsey, Lynn Woodworth and many, many others who had the same goals as he had, and were willing to give of themselves so unselfishly."4 Donald inspired those around him to work hard just as he did.

A counselor at camp in 1955 writes: " When I came to your camp I had less responsibility but more opportunity for learning 'adult instincts' in various situations. By the end of camp I had discovered many things, for example, a good counselor or teacher or parent finds experience and self-confidence great assets. When I first came to your camp Mrs. MacJannet told me that many people have thrived and become better people after a few weeks under your care: I do believe that I am one of them."

Donald never acknowledged the leadership he bore so humbly and replied with this: listen.

Donald MacJannet leading a hike through the mountains, ca. 1926
Skating with Donald and Charlotte MacJannet at Sun Valley, ca. 1941

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  1. Donald MacJannet to Charlotte MacJannet, MS024/001-137#4
  2. Jean MacJannet Foster, MS024/001-139#9