To an outside spectator, the daily life of campers at Mowglis may seem foreign and even strange at times. Telling time through military bugle calls, singing old marching songs in the dining hall, having dorms inspected, swimming “Waingungas,” and getting to sit in the “Inner Circle” during campfire are all unique aspects of Camp Mowglis that campers experience on a regular basis. 

Much of the Camp Mowglis daily routine is rich in tradition and has essentially remained the same for decades. The underlying structure and flow of the “Regular Mowglis Day” has proven year after year to engage boys ages 7 to 14 in a fun, playful, and productive learning environment. When the boys become comfortable in this structure, they are able to fully immerse themselves in the Camp Mowglis community and cultivate confidence through self-competition, goal-setting, and positive interactions with supportive role models.  

Each morning, campers are awoken at 7:15 by the sound of the bugle for “Reveille”. The various unique bugle calls scattered throughout the day are used to signify to campers that it is time to move to the next activity. The use of the bugle is one of the many military traditions of Camp Mowglis that were established by Col. Alcott Farrar Elwell during his directorship in the first half of the 20th century. 

Campers can learn how to play the bugle and trumpet by working towards the "Golden Cord" Ribbon, or the Bugling Ribbon.

Campers can learn how to play the bugle and trumpet by working towards the “Golden Cord” Ribbon, or the Bugling Ribbon

After sleepily folding their sheets and blankets for the day, campers rush up to the dining hall to breakfast at 7:55. Meals in the dining hall are often accompanied by a soundtrack of Mowglis songs, clanking silverware, and announcements of camper accomplishments. 

Campers enjoying a meal in the dining hall.

Campers sit by dormitory in the dining hall and campers rotate daily as “Table Boy”, who is responsible for setting, serving, and clearing the table

Breakfast is followed by a period of “Duties,” where campers gain a sense of community responsibility by working together with other boys to clean and tidy up various parts of the camp. While this is a common practice at most camps, Camp Mowglis is unique in that upon completing his duty, each boy must “report” to a counselor in military fashion before being dismissed. This entails standing tall, eyes forward, saluting the counselor, and confidently saying “Sir (or Ma’am), I have done my duty to the best of my ability!”

Campers work together to properly fold the American flag

Campers work together to properly fold the American flag

The morning at Camp Mowglis is filled with the hustle and bustle of industries and “sign-up” activities! Campers disperse to their favorite spots in camp to start checking off requirements working towards their “ribbon”, an honorable achievement that displays mastery of a particular activity. Boys spend two weeks in their selected industry, developing their skills and discovering their hidden talents. In addition to selecting industries, boys have the opportunity to select an activity to participate in during a “sign-up period” to work on requirements or try something new. 

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Camper practices archery with Camp Mowglis Director Nick Robbins

 

 

Campers set sail during an industry period

Campers set sail during an industry period

After boys fill their stomachs with a satisfying lunch, they spend an hour in their dorms for “Relax”, a time to take an afternoon nap, read a good book, or play cards on the porch. 

Another unique tradition at Camp Mowglis is Clean-up and Inspection. Once again, boys practice teamwork to clean their dormitories by making beds, sweeping the floors, and organizing their bureaus. While the campers stand at attention, the dorms are inspected by two counselors that determine if the dorm receives an “inspection point”, a fun incentive that inspires the boys to work well together and develop responsibility for their surroundings. 

Campers keep their areas clean and tidy for inspection

Campers keep their areas in the dorm clean and tidy for inspection

Off to the races they go! After inspection, the boys have another period of industries. 

Believe it or not, the aforementioned Col. Elwell and Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, were good friends. Thus, the system of “ribbons” that shapes the Mowglis activity curriculum is heavily grounded in the Merit Badge system that is used by the Boy Scouts for working towards accomplishments. 

Camper practices canoeing solo as he works towards the "Red Ribbon" or canoeing ribbon

Camper practices canoeing solo as he works towards the “Red Ribbon” or canoeing ribbon

 

Camper is instructed on how to properly use tools in Woodworking industry

Camper is instructed on how to properly use tools in Woodworking industry

One of the most loved parts of the “Regular Mowglis Day” is Open Period. This is a time specifically set aside for good old-fashioned fun. The Counselor of the Day selects an activity to bring the entire camp together, ranging from Capture the Flag to Soccer to the Counselor Hunt (exactly what it sounds like). This is the perfect time for the boys to participate in team-based games, run around, and work off their energy.

Campers play on the "Key-Log" during Open Waterfront, a time when campers can enjoy the beautiful weather, take out boats, or play in the swimming areas

Campers play on the “Key-Log” during Open Waterfront, a time when campers can enjoy the beautiful weather, take out boats, or have fun in the swimming areas

After running around and getting blissfully covered in dirt, it’s time for the whole camp to PLUNGE! Evening “Soak” in the refreshing water of Newfound Lake is the ideal way to end a day filled with Mowglis activities and games. 

All Mowglis campers come together at the end of the day to take a dip (or leap) into Newfound Lake

All Mowglis campers come together at the end of the day to take a dip (or leap) into Newfound Lake

Following dinner in the dining hall (with dessert!), campers spend time playing on Gray Brothers Field until the daily “Colors” ceremony. 

During free time after dinner, campers initiate games of basketball, tetherball, frisbee, or "GaGa Ball"

During free time after dinner, campers initiate games of basketball, tetherball, frisbee, or “GaGa Ball”

One of the most traditional parts of the Mowglis day is the evening colors ceremony. This ceremony occurs each night when the American flag is lowered, and the campers line up on Gray Brothers Field to go through a series of salutations, bugle calls, and the unforgettable firing of the canon.  

The Mowglis community stands at "parade rest" as the buglers play and the American flag is lowered

The Mowglis community stands at “parade rest” as the buglers play and the American flag is lowered

At last, each “Regular Mowglis Day” ends with Campfire. Campfire is a time for a staff member, alumnus, or guest speaker to present to the campers about an experience, topic they are passionate about, or idea worth sharing. One of the many decades-long traditions at Camp Mowglis is that campers or staff members who have received 4 or more Ribbons are awarded the honor and privilege of sitting in the “Inner Circle” of the campfire ring. 

Campfire is a time for the campers to practice patience, relax before bedtime, and learn something new (all the while sitting in the unique Mowglis campfire benches seen below). Many of the Mowglis alums still recall their fondest memories from various campfires and return to the camp years later to continue the tradition by passing along their learning experiences and stories to the campers.

Campfire: A Tradition that Commences Lifelong Learning

Campfire: A Tradition that Commences Lifelong Learning

As the day comes to a close, campers rise from their benches to sing the Mowglis Goodnight Song: Evening’s sunset paints the sky, smoke from campfire drifts on high…

At last, campers disperse to their dorms, climb into bed, and get a good night’s sleep before the start of another “Regular Mowglis Day”!

Good Hunting,

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