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History of Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America

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The First Mosaic Outdoor Club was founded by Steve Harris Millmond in Colorado, under the name Mosaic Outdoor Mountain Club. It held it's first event, a hike in the Colorado Rockies, in December, 1988.

Mosaic, named for Moses, the original "outdoor Jew", was started thanks to the realization of Mr. Millmond that modern Jews had lost touch with the fact that Judaism was closely linked to the outdoors and the environment. He was disturbed that many of today's Jews would prefer dining out and shopping to hiking, camping, canoeing, and getting "in touch" with the natural environment that surrounds us. The few Jews who were involved in these activities generally associated with the vast numbers of gentiles who were normally actively involved, often leading to intermarriage. Steve's vision to bring together Jews with an interest in the outdoors, and to introduce outdoor activities to those Jews who were not already involved, became a reality. Still today, when one mentions "Jewish Outdoor Club", some say "Isn't that an oxymoron?". Not anymore. Mosaic Outdoor Clubs are fast becoming a widely recognized name in the Jewish community in the U.S., Canada and abroad.

Following the creation of the first Mosaic club, Steve then assisted in the formation of similar clubs in the Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts areas. Word of the concept spread fast, and within the next few years, Mosaic Clubs formed in New York City, Connecticut, Atlanta, and Orlando, mostly by word of mouth.

Despite its humble beginnings, Mosaic clubs across the country begin to recognize a "higher purpose" than just getting together to have fun. With all these Jewish people being attracted by some very exciting and creative outdoor programming, Mosaic clubs recognize that some good can actually come out of this beyond just having fun. Mosaic members start meeting through Mosaic and getting married. Clubs begin organizing trail cleanups and other environmental efforts. Environmental education and Judaic tradition, and leadership training are introduced to many of the activities of many of the clubs. Mosaic has rapidly become a vast grassroots organization with numerous valuable aspects to offer society and the Jewish community.

By 1993, the idea of an annual "Mosaic National Event", to be hosted by a different club and in a different part of the country each year, became a tradition. The first Mosaic National Event was held in Dillon, Colorado on July fourth weekend 1991, and the second was in Fairlee, Vermont (hosted by the Massachusetts Club) on Labor Day weekend, 1992. The Third Annual Mosaic National Event was held at Camp Barney Medintz in the North Georgia Mountains, and was hosted by the Georgia Club in 1993.

Rick Dronsky, of Miami, Florida, heard about the event, and thought it would be a fun way to spend Labor Day Weekend; hiking, biking, white water rafting, horseback riding, and rock climbing by day, while at night being part of Shabbat and Havdallah services, Israeli dancing, and group campfire programs, all with other Jews from across the country. He enjoyed his experience so much that he returned to Miami, where create Mosaic Outdoor Club of South Florida. He looked toward other club Founders for guidance and advice, since there was no national organization in place.

In 1994, the South Florida Club, volunteered to host the 1994 National Event to be held on Columbus Day Weekend in Hendersonville, North Carolina. This event turned out to be a large National Event. In 1995, d others took the responsibility of the National Event and organized a "National Event Committee", comprised of members from various clubs, to host the 1995 National Event at Camp Tel Yehudah in the Pocono Mountains near Barryville, New York.

In 1995, at the National Event, Myron Katz, Founder of the Louisiana Mosaic club, introduced the concept of a national Mosaic web page, to link all the clubs together. At the same time, we announced the creation of a National Organization of Mosaic, to be known as Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America. As others coordinate leaders nationwide to start a "National Organization" via telephone calls, this new web page allowed Mosaic clubs to link together, to have access to each others web pages, email addresses, and leaders names and telephone numbers.

In 1996, with a a suggestion by Steve Millmond, we organize a joint event with Shomrei Adamah (Keeper's of the Earth) on Labor Day Weekend at Camp Sprout Lake in the Catskill Mountains, near Verbank, New York. It became evident that one of the primary roles of the new national organization would be to host or co-host the Annual National Event. In May, 1996, Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America, the National Organization of Mosaic, was incorporated. The original Board of Directors, consisted of, President, Robin Levine; Vice President/Publicity, Steve Millmond, and Executive Vice President, Rick Dronsky. Later the same year, the name "Mosaic Outdoor ... Club" was trademarked by the new, national organization. Also, Mosaic registered the Internet domain name "mosaics.org", and a national toll-free hotline was established with the number 1-888-MOSAICS. In the fall of 1996, Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America received national publicity in an eight page color article about Mosaic in the B'nai B'rith Jewish Monthly Magazine entitled "Granola, Gusto, and God; For Outdoorsy Jews, Community is a Walk in the Park".

Much of the programming for the 1996 National Event was organized by Dr. Gabe Goldman; a Jewish Environmental Educator, Program Director for Shomrei Adamah, and Director of the Teva Learning Center. Gabe Goldman trained under Ray Rietze, a Master Maine Guide, who was raised by a Native American he refers to as "Grandfather". Gabe brought to Mosaic a unique blend of Native American philosophies and techniques, combined with Jewish spirituality and prayer. Dr. Goldman  became friends with many members and we saw the enormous value and potential in what we were attempting to accomplish. Gabe agreed to sit on the Community Advisory Board of Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America.

In the spring of 1997 a small group of Mosaic leaders attended an intensive retreat for Jewish outdoor leaders, led by Gabe Goldman. This strengthened the bond between Gabe and Mosaic. In the fall of 1997, Dr. Goldman was again retained to organize his unique programming for the Seventh Annual Mosaic National Event, which was held at Capital Camps on the Maryland / Pennsylvania boarder, and was co-hosted by the Maryland club and the National Organization.

By April, 1997, Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America was granted charitable status under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).

In February, 1998, Gabe Goldman, along with Joe Browder, Father of Big Cypress National Preserve, came to Florida for a National Wilderness Leadership Retreat in Big Cypress.

In June 1998, Affiliation with the National Organization was not possible. The means for a local Mosaic club to officially "affiliate" with Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America came as a result of the combined efforts of Joel Judd ,Steve Cohn, and Benjamin Felzer of the Colorado Club, Mark Schweber of the New York Club, Nancy Kaplan of the Massachusetts Club, and Rick Dronsky, with a revision of the national by-laws. The By-law adoption allowed for affiliation of the local clubs with the National Organization. By August, 1998, twelve of the Clubs had affiliated, representing 1500 members nationwide. As affiliates, these clubs became eligible for insurance coverage under the master policy of Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America, and obtained coverage previously unobtainable.

On 05 September 1998, a new Nationally Board of Directors was elected to Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America. Delegates from ten of the twelve affiliated Clubs voted at the election, which was held at the Eight Annual National Event in Estes Park, Colorado, and co-hosted by the Colorado Club and the National Organization. The new Board consists of President, Dr. Gabe Goldman; Executive Vice President, Rick Dronsky; Secretary, Joel Judd; and Treasurer, Mark Schweber. An announcement of the 1999 National Event was made, and it was to be held in Georgia; co-hosted by the Georgia Club and the National Organization. Through the efforts of the National Organization, new Clubs were popping up all over the country.

In late 1998, Mosaic Entered Television Production

Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America in conjunction with Mosaic Outdoor Club of South Florida, and WLRN Public Television, produced a twelve part television series for the Miami-Dade Community Access Cable Channel entitled "Florida Outdoor Adventures". In addition to gaining exposure for Mosaic, this series introduces the viewing audience to the various outdoor and environmental activities and programs available within a short drive from home.

Also in 1998, Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America had a broad based support, along with some 1500 members nationwide, and an elected Board of Directors, it began to seek Funding from Charitable Foundations to further its efforts to publicize and promote Mosaic nationwide, to offer wilderness training and environmental education to its members and leaders, and to enhance Jewish awareness and connection amongst its members.

In 1999, Mosaic receives its first two grants; one for $1000 from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and one for $500 from Publix Supermarkets. Mosaic paid a small salary to Rick Dronsky as he continued as Executive Director.

In September, 1999 at the National Event; Labor Day Weekend, at Camp Barney Medintz in Geogia, the Board of Directors voted to expand the National Board of Directors from four to nine positions. The expanded Board included the following individuals: President, Dr. Gabe Goldman (Philadelphia); Executive Vice President, Rick Dronsky (South Florida) and Treasurer, Mark Schweber (Greater New York) remain, while Joel Judd's term expires and is filled by Secretary, Elisa Berger (Central Florida). New additional Board positions, which allow for the Board Member to define their own duties include: Environmental, Ben Felzer (Colorado); Publicity, Jon Lyons (Tallahassee), National Event Coordinator, Marsha Zellner (Connecticut); Leadership, Gary Schwartz (Massachusetts); and Internet Operations, Barry Laves (Houston).

In June, 1999 the "Murray Dronsky Memorial Award" was established and funded through donations "In Loving Memory of Murray Dronsky", Mosaic Member and Father of Rick Dronsky, who passed away Sunday, April 12, 1998. From all of us who've had the pleasure of spending time with him. We remember his spirit of adventure, great sense of humor, and zest for life. It was at this national event that the very first "Murray Dronsky Memorial Award" in the form of a plaque, was presented to Mosaic Founder Steve Harris Millmond. In his absence, it was accepted for him by Gabe Goldman.

In February, 2000, Mosaic hosts its second "Leadership Training Retreat" in Everglades National Park, with over 55 people attending from all over the United States and Canada.

In September, 2000 at the National Event; Labor Day Weekend, in Bridgeton, Maine, co-hosted by the Greater New York and Massachusetts Clubs along with the national organization. It was established that election of Board of Director Members will be held at each national event.  , Matthew Shuchman (South Florida) replaced Gabe Goldman as President. Matthew brings his business acumen along with his religious background to offer Mosaic the benefit of his expertise. Neil Levy (Maryland/DC/Virginia) replaces Mark Schweber as Treasurer. The site of the next two national events was announced; 2001 to be held in West Virginia, co-hosted by the NE Ohio club and the national organization. The 2002 event was scheduled to be in Canada, co-hosted by the Southern Ontario - Toronto Club and the national organization.

Winter 2000, As part of its "National Jewish Outreach Program", Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America gears up to host the first "National Jewish Ski Week" at Club Med, Copper Mountain, Colorado. Over 300 Jewish skiers are expected. Promotion for the event is done in cooperation with Young Leadership Councils of various Jewish Federations from across the country, as well as many other Jewish organizations.