Camp Mowglis is a traditional seven-week overnight camp for boys aged 7-14.
Founded in 1903, It’s located in a remarkably beautiful cove on Newfound Lake in central New Hampshire. The camp offers a wide variety of activities including swimming, crafts, riflery, archery, sailing, and dramatics. Boys are grouped together by age in six dormitories. Each “dorm” contains 6-15 boys that live, eat, and sleep together. They go on day hikes and overnight camping trips to the mountains, lakes, and rivers of northern New Hampshire planned especially for their age group. There is one week devoted to crew racing in custom-made wood-strip boats. Every boy gets a chance to row for the Red or Blue Crew, and the experience taught Charlie powerful lessons about sportsmanship and grace under pressure.
Everyone who goes to Mowglis remembers the fun they had and the friendships they made.
But behind the scenes the program has been designed to be active and productive, full of learning and challenge. The goal is to help each boy gain the confidence and strengths he needs to successfully travel the road to manhood. Today, with electronic media invading every aspect of our lives, there is great value in a program that steps back from these distractions and shows boys how to lead an active outdoor life. Goodness knows, all that “stuff” will be waiting for them when they return home.
Charlie Walbridge Swiftwater Rescue Instructor
Charlie Walbridge attended Mowglis from 1959-1962 and was a counselor there from 1963-1972.
This was where a boy born in New York City was introduced to the outdoors and where he learned to paddle a canoe. Being on the staff got him started teaching outdoor skills, a passion he’s continued throughout his life. Later, after taking up whitewater paddling in college, he became the canoe instructor and introduced this activity to the boys. He is currently a member of the camp’s board of directors and was a contributing author of their staff handbook. He made many friends that have stayed in touch for decades. He often returns to run the annual “Red Ribbon” whitewater canoe trip in August.
Charlie Walbridge Mowglis Counselor circa 1963-1972
Letter from Charlie Walbridge in the Spring of 2013
As the weather warms and opening day of camp draws closer my thoughts often turn to my mother, who passed away on February 9th. She was devoted to her family and always looked for ways to help her three children grow up strong and independent. I was her most challenging project: a big, awkward kid who did poorly at school, hated sports, and fought constantly with his Dad. She felt that I needed an active summer away from home with boys who did something other than play baseball. She was right, and by a series of fortunate events I ended up at Mowglis.
It’s opening day, 1959. The Director, Mr. Adams, greeted me warmly when I arrived at camp. After a short chat he asked a boy to take me up to my dorm: Akela. He was D. Snow Margeson, a five year camper who quickly took me under his wing. “D” and I became close friends; we played lots of croquet and hung out together at the library and the rifle range. We loved to read and shoot and share private jokes. Later Petey Thompson, Roger Smith and I would earn our rowboat safety tests and spent a lot of time out on the lake together. I wasn’t much of a hiker that summer; when my dorm climbed Mt. Osceola I ran out of gas and was walked down separately by Mr. Wadsworth. I remember that he was really kind; I was also amazed and grateful that there was no teasing from the group afterwards.
During the next few years my life started to come together. That fall I felt more confident; my grades improved and I made more friends. During my second camp season I climbed Mt. Cardigan, which meant something after the previous year’s failure. The next fall I discovered football, which agreed with me more than baseball. I also tried wrestling and track. I wasn’t very good, but I was becoming more fit. The following summer I really enjoyed the camp hiking trips. I remember being totally awed by a spectacular view on top of Mt. Chocorua and a stunning sunset on the summit of Mt. Kinsman. After that I became a hiking and climbing fanatic. I covered lots of ground during my Den year and I started working on the Mowglis staff in the following summers. I went on to very successful years at Prep School and College.
Over the years many Mowglis friends have told me how important different camp experiences were to their young lives. I’m sure my Mom, and theirs, would agree that it’s not easy to send a little boy off to camp for eight weeks. But my Mom knew what I needed and had the courage to make it happen. I suspect behind each of my buddies was a mother or father with the same selfless vision and insight.
Board Member, Holt-Elwell Memorial Foundation
Swiftwarter Rescue Articles and Posts
“The freedom to take calculated risks, in business, love, or whitewater, is one of the most cherished prerogatives of a free people. I don’t try to discourage knowledgeable people from willingly assuming risks; but I do work to educate inexperienced paddlers so they don’t get into trouble inadvertently.”