Mondamin was founded in 1922 by Frank Bell, Sr. (usually known as “Chief”).
The idea first dawned in Chief’s mind in March of ’22, and construction started on the dining room in April. Camp opened about the end of June with a very inexperienced director and an equally inexperienced staff of about six. There were 31 campers. Activities were hiking, riding, swimming, and canoeing. There were no buildings except the simple dining room and a wood stove kitchen. Campers and staff lived in tents. The eight-week fee was $150.
During the depression of the ’30s, survival hung by a thread. “Chief” taught school, acted as the local postmaster, ran a country store, and traded in land. Camp Green Cove, our sister camp, started in 1945 at Camp Rockbrook in Brevard, and operated there under the direction of Pat Bell, Chief’s daughter. In 1949, Green Cove moved to its present location, and in 1952 his wife Calla Bell became director. Their children, Frank Bell and Nancy Bell, took over in the 70’s and 80’s and operated the camps for decades. Now their grandchildren, Andrew Bell and Calla Bell Williamson, are the respective directors of Mondamin and Green Cove
Fourth generation campers are now attending Mondamin. The two camps have a capacity of 190 each. Every summer 35 to 40 states and seven to 12 other countries are represented among the campers at Mondamin and Green Cove.
If you would like to see many more photos from the early years, please visit our Historical Photo page.
If education is not a diploma, as “Chief” always maintained, then what is it? What is it’s goal? How is it achieved? Is it just to make a living, or to make living worth while?
Some confuse education with graduation. One gets the required number of credits, graduates, and is educated. His diploma so attests. Some teachers teach text instead of people, facts instead of values, knowledge instead of wisdom. The student ingests, regurgitates, passes, graduates.
If education is instead a series of continuing experiences that build the knowledges, the skills, the habits, the appreciations, the attitudes, the values, and ultimately and hopefully the wisdom that enrich living, then we need to go far beyond the classroom. That’s why we love the wilderness — it’s a magnificent playground and a great university.