Memories of "Chief", Director 1922-1972

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Frank "Chief" Bell, Sr. Center, in white shirt
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Day Shelmire, 1970's. No helmets then!

Day Shelmire from Dallas, TX was a camper at Mondamin for 6 summers and on staff for 4. His three boys (Wesley, William, and Thomas) have all been campers and counselors as well.

Recently, Day wrote to us with the following reflection:

“I was so fortunate to have been a camper in the last couple of years of Chief as director. He had a strong philosophy that he imparted constantly and even the youngest of us understood it at some level:

‘A leader is a person with a magnet in his heart and a compass in his head.’”

‘Education can occur on a log with a boy on one end and a man on the other.’

Chief was not just a camp director, he was a philosopher, an educator, a lamp lighter. He taught me that the true reward comes with hard work, a lesson that I learned at camp and have applied throughout my life. He combined the “whats” with the “whys.” “We do it this way to achieve this result.” I can still remember some of these things, and other things I don’t consciously remember are now just part of who I am.”

What lessons did you learn at camp that have become a part of who you are today? Contact us

About David Bell

I grew up at Camp Mondamin paddling the rivers, hiking and riding the trails, and climbing the peaks of Western North Carolina. In the wilderness and on Lake Summit, my counselors encouraged me to explore the world, but more importantly, myself. As I later pursued graduate school in history and a career in teaching, camp continued to be my homebase. I have spent many summers on the paddling staffs of both Mondamin and Green Cove, headed paddling, and served as a line head and assistant director at Mondamin. Adventures took me around the world; for 25 years, I have taught youth and adults at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NC), Friends Seminary (NYC), National Taiwan University, and Kang Chiao International School (Taiwan).

My wonderful wife Yijun, a Waldorf-trained teacher and counselor herself at Green Cove for several years, has inspired and encouraged me to continue to grow as an educator. Our daughter Emery will be at Green Cove this summer for her second year, and our son Benjamin plans to be back at Mondamin in 2024. Gordon Grant, one of my mentors in education, and I are working together this year to lead Mondamin into its next, great chapter. We sincerely hope you will join us on the journey!

David Bell