Camp Mowglis History
Over 100-Year Old Summer Camp, Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book Stories
At the turn of the last century, Boston educator Elizabeth Ford Holt was inspired by Kipling’s Jungle Book stories. In the Jungle Book, a small boy named Mowgli grows up in the jungle and is raised by a wolf pack. Mowgli learns important life lessons from the animals of the jungle, such as trust, teamwork, patience, leadership, empathy, self reliance, and kindness.
Mrs. Holt was concerned that young men were no longer learning many important lessons growing up in urban and suburban environments. It became her dream to establish a place where they could spend the summer learning the lessons that little Mowgli learned in the jungle. In 1903 she purchased a large farm on the shores of Newfound Lake and founded Mowglis School of the Open.
With the permission of author Rudyard Kipling, she was able to borrow names from his Jungle Books, and to this day many of the buildings at Mowglis carry such names as Toomai, Baloo, and Akela. Throughout his life, Mr. Kipling maintained an active interest in this undertaking so strongly influenced by his inspiring and exciting stories.
Mr. Kipling also instructed Mrs. Holt on how to pronounce Mowglis (“Mow” sounds like cow, and “glee”), and how to pluralize the name of Mowgli the boy character in the books, by adding a silent “s”.
In the spring of 1925 Mrs. Holt passed the camp to her long-time Assistant, Col. Alcott Farrar Elwell, who ran Mowglis for 27 years. After the Colonel’s retirement, Mr. Darwin P. Kingsley and Mr. John C. Adams each ran the camp for five years. In 1962 the the Holt-Elwell Memorial Foundation was established to acquire the camp and ensure the continuity of the program as a non-profit institution. To this day the Holt-Elwell Memorial Foundation carries on the traditions that were established in the early 1900s by the founder, Mrs. Holt.