The Civilian Conservation Corps
When my dad was young, he and his older brother joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. This organization was one of FDR’s “New Deal” projects. Roosevelt declared the CCC in 1933 to “relieve the acute condition of widespread distress and unemployment existing in the United States, provide for the restoration of the country's depleted natural resources, and advance an orderly program of useful public works." CCC camps were organized like a military style camp. The men lived in large tents that could sleep up to 50 people. Army or Army Reserves Officers stayed next to the tents to supervise the typically 200 men. There were several other buildings nearby including: a shower house, outhouse, mess hall, hospital and infirmary, administrative unit, garage and shop.
Unemployed and unmarried men, ages 18 to 25, volunteered to work in a CCC camp for six months at a time. They were paid $35.00 a month, but $25.00 of it went to their parents. With this plan, the men benefited because they had a job, they could have a balanced life, parents received extra money to help pay their bills, the economy began to grow again, jobs were created and America was advancing beyond the depression. The integration of military life helped the men stay in line and gain responsibility. The corpsmen also had the opportunity to play sports, go to the library and take classes to contribute to their personal lives.
My dad and his brother joined up and were sent to Camp Tomahawk in Wisconsin, where they worked on putting up telephone lines, fighting fires, building lookout towers, cutting brush, trail reconstruction, cutting trees and more. They joined sometime around the late 30’s, and after that, when Dad joined the military, the experience stood him in good stead. He always had positive things to say about the CCC.
Here in North Carolina, the CCC worked quite a lot on soil replenishment, tree-planting, work in state and national parks, and – most notably – on the Blue Ridge Parkway, clearing trees and underbrush and digging the first trails with just pick and shovel.
In my book, Two Weeks Every Summer, I tell a story about a young man who goes through the CCC camp experience and into World War II in the short story, The Two-Bit Punk. What does CCC camp have to do with Camp Meeting? To me, one of the fascinating parts of Camp Meeting is the way you see the same people year after year. Without being nosy about it, you can observe how young folks grow and change, how they mature and develop into, well, all kinds of personalities. The Two-Bit Punk tells a bit about someone going through those kinds of changes.
I hope you will enjoy it!