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