The Civilian Conservation Corps: Training a Generation in Manliness

by Brett on January 7, 2010 · 44 comments

in A Man's Life, Lessons In Manliness

Men of the CCC at Work and Play
Source: National Parks Service

Editors Note: If you’ve ever been camping, you’ve probably hiked on a trail or used a lodge that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. But just what was the CCC? In this article, Philip Rodney Moon explains the origin of this New Deal program and it’s lasting effect on the land and the men who took part. Hopefully next time you walk across a bridge made by the CCC, you’ll take a moment to remember the hard working men who created a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy.

Eighty years ago the nation was plunged into the Depression when the excesses of the 1920s caught up with society. Like the current recession, the economic bubble and collapse was the result of excessive debt spending by consumers and excessive risk taken on by investors. At the worst depths of the Depression 25% of the workforce was unemployed.

With such high unemployment and people with jobs suffering major pay cuts, many across the country suffered. Out in the Plains States years of poor farming practices, coupled with a severe drought, led to massive soil erosion and the Dust Bowl, leaving millions of fertile acres a wasteland.

The depression hurt young men especially. They had the fewest skills and the lowest earnings and savings, and many found themselves coming of age in a decade with high unemployment. They were at the greatest risk for poverty and starvation. Any sociologist will tell you that restless young men without a purpose will usually lead to social instability and skyrocketing crime rates.

President Franklin Roosevelt saw all these problems and sought ways to fix them. One of his “100 Days” programs he passed was the Emergency Conservation Work Act (ECW), a temporary program that would become the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Roosevelt described the goals of the CCC when he introduced the legislation.

“I propose to create a civilian conservation corps to be used in simple work, not interfering with normal employment, and confining itself to forestry, the prevention of soil erosion, flood control, and similar projects. I call your attention to the fact that this type of work is of definite practical value, not only through the prevention of great present financial loss but also a means of creating future national wealth…More important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work. The overwhelming majority of unemployed Americans, who are now walking the streets and receiving private or public relief, would infinitely prefer to work. We can take a vast army of these unemployed out into healthful surroundings.”

The Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy puts it more succinctly: “Its purpose was two-fold — conservation of our natural resources and the salvage of our young men.”

The program, which started out with 250,000 men, would eventually employ 3 million young men, Native Americans, WWI veterans throughout its nine year history. The CCC would go on to leave a legacy of restored natural beauty, economic sustenance for families across the country, and a generation of men made better for their experience.

Environmental Degradation

For years the American agricultural sector had grown in output and productivity. During World War I farmers grew more acres to supply the war effort and mechanized tractors and transportation changed how they farmed. Unfortunately, these new methods were exploitative and dangerous to the soil. Few farmers knew about crop rotation, fertilization, or techniques to prevent soil erosion. When a severe drought hit the central plains, the tired land dried up and blew away, resulting in significant loss of topsoil and farm acreage. This “Dust Bowl” devastated thousands of farming families.

Dallas, South Dakota, 1936

In other areas of the country, similar ecological problems existed. Clear cut logging had left land scarred and soil at risk. National parks that had been set aside hadn’t yet been fully developed for fire management or access to tourists. The environmental legacy of Theodore Roosevelt had been left to lie for years. His distant cousin Franklin Roosevelt would rise to the challenge of America’s environmental needs while tackling the problem of youth unemployment.

Logistics

Several federal agencies would be involved in the running of the program, but the biggest influence was the Army. The Army was most capable of moving hundreds of thousands of young men into sites across all 48 states and several territories, setting up and supplying camps and getting the work done.

Most of the men in the program came from the urban areas of the East and were moved out West. Few had the experience of being in the wilderness, and many hadn’t ventured so far out from their homes. They signed up for six month enlistments, which could be extended for up to two years.

The camps, while not officially military, were run much in the same way as a base or boot camp. The young men were woken up early in the day to the reveille, roll was called, calisthenic drills were run, bunks were made and kept in order, and men were given their tasks for the day.

Benefits to the Men

CCC Men Eating, Camp Roosevelt, VA
Source: Oregon State University

The men who signed up for the CCC were generally 17 to 25 years old, unemployed, unmarried, and not in school. Exceptions were made for World War I veterans in need of work, but the bulk were young men.

The pay for the work was low, at $1 a day (for contrast Ford introduced his generous $5 a day auto worker compensation in 1914, which was twice the average of $2.50). They earned $30 dollars a month, but $25 dollars of that was withheld and sent to support their families back home. That left them with $5 a month to spend on themselves in towns near their camps.

The men weren’t starving on those wages. In addition to their pay they got food, housing, clothing, and medical care provided. The men often found themselves eating better in the camps then they had ever eaten before. Several men from poor families hadn’t had access to good sources of meat, eggs and fresh vegetables like they received in the camps. In a visit to a camp in Shenandoah National Park, Roosevelt mentioned the good health of the members at the camp and how they had an average weight gain of twelve pounds, while he joked about how he wanted to take twelve pounds off himself.

In today’s world where obesity is an epidemic weight gain is seen as bad, but in the 1930’s malnutrition among the poor was a concern. 16% of the men drafted in World War II were disqualified for medical reasons and Major General Lewis B. Hershey would testify to Congress that malnutrition and underfeeding were the cause of 40-60% of those cases. The men in the camps gained healthy muscle weight and with their hard labor, medical care, and work outdoors they were healthier than they had been before.

In addition to the financial and health benefits, the CCC offered educational benefits for the workers. Strong emphasis was put on insuring all CCC workers would leave literate. More than 40,000 men learned to read during their time with the CCC. Other work skills like carpentry, stone cutting, welding, truck driving, and typing were taught to fill the need for skilled craftsmen.

One CCC member explained the value the education had on the mentality of the men of the CCC.

“We were taught the idea that, hey, you can do things. You can do better than what you’ve done in the past. You have a future. And we believed that.” -Harley Jolley, North Carolina.

The greatest benefit to the young men was a sense of purpose the work gave them. No longer bumming around or hitting the rails in search of menial jobs, the men were learning the satisfactions of hard work and gaining valuable experience.

“We’re eating regular, we got clothes, they’re teaching us the way, and we were learning something,”- Houston Pritchett, Detroit, Michigan.

Bonding with Their Fellow Men

CCC Enlistees Play Football
Source: Oregon State University

The camps weren’t all work. After a day of working 8-10 hours, the men would come back and have recreation time. In addition to opportunities for education, sports were an important part of camp life. It helped men bond and at times resolve their differences. When the men had a dispute they would often settle it in the boxing ring. The boxing ring also became a proving ground to new recruits who arrived in camp.

One CCC member described his arrival at a CCC camp in Shenandoah National Park:

“I went in, and there was a couple of boys sparring around with boxing gloves. And as I was walking down through the barracks, somebody said, “There’s a guy, let’s get him, give him them gloves.” And I got a good introduction right there… I didn’t get hurt any, but I, I had 4 or 5 people. My name was all over the Camp the next day.” – W. “Curley” Harvey, Corinth, West Virginia.

CCC Member Milton Knapp spoke of the CCC teams participating with other college and semi-pro teams in sports:

“I played baseball, basketball. Yeah we had a good baseball team. One year we wound up in, out in Kansas in the semi-pro league . . . And then we played basketball, we played different towns, and played uh, a lot of the college, in the college there, the fraternity brothers there. Yeah we had a pretty good baseball team. Our basketball team was average.” – Milton Knapp, East Peroria, Illinois

Far from home, having a unique experience together, CCC men formed friendships that would last a lifetime.

The Environmental Legacy Left Behind

CCC Members Fight A Fire in Angeles National Forest, California
Source: Oregon State University

If a measure of a man is the legacy he leaves behind then the men of the CCC were not found wanting. The 3 million men unselfishly supported 12-15 million family members who received the checks sent home. Their work accomplishments were an even longer lasting legacy.

A sample of what they accomplished:

Number of Trees Planted: Between 2 and 3 billion
State Parks Developed: 800
Public Campground Development: 52,000 acres
Miles of Roads Built: 125,000
Miles of Telephone Lines Strung: 89,000
Miles of Foot Trails Built: 13,100
Farmlands Benefited from Erosion Control Projects: 40 million acres
Stream and Lake Bank Protection: 154 million square yards
Range Re-vegetation: 814,000 acres
Fire fighting Days: More than 8 million

Source: CCC Legacy

The End of the CCC and Its Contribution to the War

CCC Members Raise the American Flag
Source: Oregon State University

By the late 1930’s, the CCC was reaching the end of its life. While it remained a tremendously popular program, the bettering economy and military draft were lowering the unemployment rate and number of men signing up. The need to prepare for war taxed the budget and the Army’s resources. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the immediate needs of the war became apparent and militarization of the country would end the CCC.

The end of the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1941 would not be the end of its benefits to the nation. The 3 million men who participated would be among the most ready to join in the 16.1 million strong American force that would fight the Axis powers. Already versed in teamwork and discipline and inured to the strain of hard work, CCC men found the transition to military life to be an easy one.

CCC member W. “Curley” Harvey spoke about the benefit his time in the CCC had on his time in the military:

“What I learned in the CC Camp went a long ways with me. . . The army knows [that] practically everyone that was in the CC Camp made a heck of a lot better soldier” – W. “Curley” Harvey, Corinth, West Virginia.

Speaking at the Citadel, General Mark Clark argued that it wasn’t just the CCC men alone who benefited from the time in the CCC. The camps were run by military officers, who got a unique leadership experience that would test their abilities.

“At the same time, Military Officer personnel were being subtly trained for leadership. The CCC man was enrolled under a civilian Oath of Enrollment, and as such, was not subject to the articles of War or Courts Martial procedures. .. what a challenge this proved to be for military officers.”

Military officers had to make the choice of either figuring out how to lead men without the force of military police and rules, or else face the shame of relying on civilian authorities to do the job for them. General Clark said that helped separate the good leaders from the bad and made for a better Army:

“Who knows but what the incompetents who we weeded out might otherwise have done later on in the War in places of responsibility where the lives of men were at stake.”

The Greatest Legacy Of the CCC- The Men it Left Behind

The great legacy of the CCC was the men it left behind. In its day the program was popular for its role in society. Unlike today’s battles over stimulus and jobs programs, the CCC received support from both sides of the aisle and people who otherwise opposed the president; it was supported by 67% of Republicans.

Several famous men would come out of the program.

Chuck Yeager – West Virginia CCC, joined the Army Air Corps during the war, rose to become Brigadier General, first man to break the sound barrier.

Robert Mitchum- Actor from film classics Cape Fear, Winds of War, Night of the Hunter

Norman Borlaug – CCC member who went on to lead the “Green Revolution” in agricultural, helping keep billions of people from starvation. For his efforts he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Walter Matthau – Actor and co-star with Jack Lemmon in such classic man films as the Odd Couple, The Fortune Cookie and Grumpy Old Men

Raymond Burr – Actor most famous for his role as the titular character in Perry Mason. Was active in the National Associations of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni and successfully lobbied Congress to reinstate the program in 1984, though the program was then vetoed by President Reagan.

Source: CCC Legacy

General Mark Clark praised the program and the effect it had on the youth of the 1930s:

“In my way of thinking, the CCC was a monumental success in saving the youth of the 1930’s. . . endowing the individual CCC enrollee with a feeling of dignity, for he was giving his Country an honorable and worthwhile return for what it was doing for him and for his family economically – such a stark contrast to the shameful, character-robbing Welfare Programs of today.”

The Civilian Conservation Corps succeeded in its mission to conserve natural resources and salvage the unemployed youth. It took in millions of young boys and turned out men. CCC member Houston Pritchett explains it best.

“The CCC made me a man, made me respect discipline and how to work and how to get along with people”- Houston Pritchett, Detroit, Michigan

CCC alumni Marion James is reflected in a plaque with the names of other men who worked at Camp 3422 in NC. (Photo by Lauren Carroll)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ __ _

To learn more about the CCC, I recommend watching Robert Stone’s documentary “The Civilian Conservation Corps”, part of PBS’s American Experience series. This documentary is the source of the quotes from Houston Pritchett and Harley Jolley used in this article.

The CCC is also part of Ken Burns’ documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bob Iger January 7, 2010 at 4:04 am

THIS is exactly what many countries need right now in these times of financial crisis and loss of moral values.

2 Goddard Lewko January 7, 2010 at 4:34 am

Considering the CCC’s contribution to the widespread invasion of kudzu throughout the American South, I can’t say I share the same amount of respect for the organization as the author. There is however, at least merit to the idea of social organization amongst young men in such an environment. Whether the Corps was truly the best way to go about this however, is something I’ve yet to be convinced of.

3 Adam @ blokebuddy January 7, 2010 at 5:16 am

Very thought provoking, A great post again Brett, Personally I believe CCC makes for a strong moral fibre and bondship amongst men, we could all learn from it.

4 Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com January 7, 2010 at 6:35 am

My god, just look at the amazing list of accomplishments they’ve achieved. 2-3 BILLION trees! 800 State parks. Excellent article. It shows what men can do when they band together even in hard circumstances.

5 Jason Yohman January 7, 2010 at 7:01 am

@ Goddard – If it wasn’t the CCC, some other group led by or influenced by the government would have spread the erosion controlling plant, be it the Army Corps of Engineers or the Boy Scouts. Let’s not discredit all the other major, positive contributions made by the men because of unforeseen problems caused by a disruptive plant used in an act of desperation.

6 Hans Hageman January 7, 2010 at 8:42 am

I would love to recreate this on even a small scale for the teens I work with in Harlem and Baltimore. Job Corps isn’t bad but it falls short in some of the character development areas.

7 Trish Lewis January 7, 2010 at 9:02 am

My father, Gordon Short, was a member of the CCC’s. It wasn’t that many years later that he then spent over 3 1/2 years in the U.S. Army during WWII. Trust me, it was an amazing time for him, he told me all about it. It shaped him in important ways that followed him for the rest of his life…

8 Jonathan January 7, 2010 at 9:15 am

I’m not a proponent of government hand-outs, but I’m in favor of resurrecting the CCC. I was lucky enough to line up a job before graduation, but I’ve heard numerous stories of other men my age who’ve graduated from college and can’t find jobs beyond flipping burgers at McDonald’s. If the US government can find $3-billion for new cars and nearly $900-billion to save the investment bankers and speculators who got us into this mess in the first place, surely the government can scrounge up the funds for this. Instead of simply giving people welfare and food stamps, wouldn’t it be better to employ them in a worthwhile manner?

9 Patrick H. Ouzts January 7, 2010 at 9:24 am

Couple of Responses.

First, What the CCC did for men is amazing. I am a former high school teacher and I currently work with youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta. Today’s young men are floundering in drugs, gangs, entertainment and apathy; a CCC like organization would be amazing for these boys that don’t do school.

Second, however, is the fact that nobody every talks about the negative of the CCC. A Gov’t sponsored employer actually kept the US in the depression longer (at least some economists argue). According to them, many of the men who where in the CCC, struggled to return to the private sector, and the private sector simply didn’t have employees. Of course, the private sector didn’t really have jobs, but because of putting all of these men in limbo, the private sector was slowed in finding innovation and self-recovery. Whether or not society would have recovered is questionable, but the theory that expanding the gov’t for social welfare inhibits private-sector’s ability to rebuild organically is a very relevant question for today’s economic situation.

Finally, the comparison to the CCC and Ford motor company is really interesting because in the ’30s, Henry Ford set a company priority to provide the best wages for employees while providing every citizen an affordable, quality automobile. In essence, Henry wanted to use Ford as social welfare. Two shareholders sued the company, claiming they were being denied their investment because a for-profit company should pay the lowest, not highest wages, and should charge the most, not least, for their product. In essence, these shareholders said, “forget the people, pay me.” The Supreme Court agreed and told Ford it had breached it’s fiduciary duty to the shareholders. Just a little more history on the foundations of US economics.

10 Mr. Martin January 7, 2010 at 10:01 am

My grandfather always said the CCC was the best thing that happened in our country at that time. In addition to providing jobs and and income for the unemployed it instilled confidence and health and it got men out of the cities and introduced them to a whole new America. It gave men from all over America a chance to bond with those who came from a totally different lifestyle.

11 Michael January 7, 2010 at 10:04 am

Brilliant article.

12 Sallie Anderson January 7, 2010 at 10:13 am

My grandfather, Curtis Townsend, was part of the CCC. He met Delmar Hawkins through the Corps and they really did become lifelong friends. Delmar was very much a grandfather to me, too. Thanks so much for featuring the CCC today!!

13 Mark January 7, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Speaking from a conservative viewpoint: overall, I think the CCC and it’s legacy did a lot of good both for building camaraderie among men from diverse backgrounds and for the conservation practices it institutionalized (our mountain bike trail club uses the same tools and techniques on our trail projects). It is unfortunate that such programs can be co-opted by and used as a tool for a political ideology. As an example, around the same time period the Hitler Jugend had similar programs but also added things like “racial theory” and other krep. And like the CCC, the HJ did create a cadre of men entering the war whose spirit did earn (in the HJ’s case) the grudging admiration of outsiders. William Shirer, in his book “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” commented on this as he was following the Wehrmacht through France in 1940. To paraphrase, the young German men were healthy, tanned, athletic and in high spirits while the British appeared generally skinny, with sunken chests, bad teeth, pale and lacking in spirit, traits he attributed to the differences between a dynamic youth program and a country which neglected its youth.

Before we worry about a government program doing a similar thing, perhaps we need to revitalize and invigorate programs offered by religious and civil organizations that have languished over the decades.

14 Brucifer January 7, 2010 at 1:52 pm

As long as Franklin Delano Obama is taking most of his play book from the *last* DEPRESSION, I wish he’d indeed resurrect the CCC concept. A much, much better investment than bailing out fat-cat banks and over-the-hill car companies. In one single program, the CCC protects the environment and helps young men into healthy and robust manhood. Last summer, I was at Itasca State Park in Minnesota and they had a whole nice interpretive center display about the work of the CCC.

15 JR Cooper January 7, 2010 at 1:54 pm

A program like this would have been great for me in my youth. I had no sense of direction in life, but I didn’t want to join the military. I think there are a lot of young men who could benefit from this today.

16 Jon January 7, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I just wanted to point out that there are still opportunities to perform national service in this country. Americorps Americorps’ NCCC is a national service program that works on projects of a similar nature to the CCC. It’s smaller in scale and is no longer just for men, but it is out there and still employs young adults to do things like build trails, respond to natural disasters and construct houses.

@ Hans: The teens you work with might want to check out the Americorps website, http://www.americorps.gov. There are opportunities in many different communities, so they may want to investigate getting involved with Americorps, NCCC, City Year or VISTA. These are federally funded programs and they provide some money for college (or at least they used to, you’d have to inquire to see what they’re offering now). My wife and I both did Americorps (NCCC and VISTA), and found it to be a meaningful experience.

17 David January 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Anyone else drawing a parallel between the CCC and the German RAD? Think about it, a paramilitary organization made up entirely of men who are trained by the Army but do construction and land improvement.

Let’s take a closer look at the parallels, shall we? The CCC was trained and disciplined by the Army, which made almost every CCC member only require weapons training when the war broke out. The RAD was trained and was ran like an army with spades instead of rifles, so when the war broke out, they only needed weapons training. The CCC improved the roads, forests, and farms of their country. The RAD made the German Autobahn, planted forests and helped on farms.

Yet the RAD is seen as a symbol of the evils of fascism, while the CCC are seen as a glorious part of FDR’s new deal.

18 Shmikey January 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Great article!! I had many of my uncles and my grandfather involved in the program and have always admired the beauty of the work that they had accomplished. The lock and dam system on the Mississippi along with many of the bridges across it were built during this time as well as many of our military bases that originated at this time. Their work is still standing and are a testament to what men can do when they share a common goal. The only concern that I have is that if it were attempted now, the indoctrination would be susceptible to negative influences that have come about since women’s liberation and that we would not encourage the same type of man that was encouraged during the depression. Our modern male thinks very differently than its forefather, and has been coddled and couldn’t handle the regimen of hard work.

19 Philip January 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm

@ David

Htiler was a failed artist. Does that mean all failed artists are bound to become dictators or launch a Holocaust?

Your falling under the fallacy reductio ad hitlerum, which Leo Strauss identified in 1953
From Wikipedia

Its name is a pun on reductio ad absurdum, and was coined by an academic ethicist, Leo Strauss, in 1953. Engaging in this fallacy is sometimes known as playing the Nazi card,[1] by analogy to playing the race card.

The fallacy claims that a policy leads to—or is the same as—one advocated or implemented by Adolf Hitler or the Third Reich, and so “proves” that the original policy is undesirable. For example: “Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarianism is wrong.”

20 Tim Lebsack January 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Interesting editorial. I’ll forgive AOM for publishing historical falsehood and economic fallacy.

I honor the men who worked for the CCC but wouldn’t want this author to teach in the history or economics department of the local high school.

“It took in millions of young boys and turned out men.” — Considering the author’s authoritarian, collectivism for everyone but the chosen attitude, I would hope he never be in charge of the young men at a CCC camp. Respect for the individual is what created the USA. Disrespect for the individual is what created the Great Depression.

Tim Lebsack
Dallas

21 Fonz January 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Great article! There is also a show that talks all about the CCC on PBS called American Experience. Saw it early this week. It is a must see.

22 John Dickerson January 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Thank you for this article, Philip.

The CCC was a great program all around. I’ve used trails made by the CCC and I truly appreciate what these men did and FDR creating the program. There would be so fewer trails if the CCC had never existed. It was a gift to future outdoorsman!

When I look at our current government, throwing money around to stimulate the economy, I cannot believe we’re not bringing something like this back instead. Our roads are terrible, our bridges are dangerous, our parks need work. Our infrastructure is crumbling and people need jobs! Our infrastructure is never going to be fixed without a program like this. Bring back the CCC!

23 Shmikey January 7, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Tim, Everyone is dependent on everyone else. Many of my relatives worked in the CCC and not a one spoke a word against it. Many of them became independent business men and were given the experience needed to succeed. Team work, even when it is provided by the government is not a bad thing, it can be abused and misused, but that doesn’t make it inherently bad. Most do not know the working conditions prior to the formation of unions in this country. I don’t agree with the current union system, but it definitely had its place in reforming the industrial age and the uncontrolled capitalists that abused the underprivileged prior to the formation of unions.

24 Andrew January 7, 2010 at 5:45 pm

FABULOUS Article. Fully recommend watching the pbs documentary that is linked as well.

25 Harry January 7, 2010 at 6:58 pm

There is still an opportunity for a many of the same things that The CCC did. I’m actually writing this from a computer at the Vinton, Iowa NCCC (National civilian community corps) campus. Its been truly an amazing experience for me. Keeping the CCCs idea alive is truly something our country needs. Thanks for sharing something that truly needs to be heard.

26 Lawrence January 7, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I can not be any more envious of the men who worked in the CCC. This is a superb way to form a love of country and fellow man, values that are continually wavering today.

27 Jake January 7, 2010 at 8:57 pm

@Patrick

I think the more common arguement isn’t really that it kept young men “in limbo” between employment… but rather the often missed fact about every type of government stimulous. The CCC may have been a great program, with bonding, and hard work, and improving many things… but all those young men’s wages, all the wages of the beaurocrats in charge, all the equipment, machinery, gasoline, busses, tents, and food had to come from SOMEWHERE… and that somewhere was of course the private sector. Goverment always has to take something from the population (which it tries to downplay) before it can give something back (which it tries to up play).

28 Robert Boney January 8, 2010 at 6:23 am

My uncle was a member. It provided him with the skills that he turned into a career with the Department of Transportation.

29 Jennifer Lombardi January 10, 2010 at 12:26 am

In California, the legacy of the CCC continues. We have the California Conservation Corps that employs young men AND women for public service and environmental conservation. Our motto is “Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions and more!” It’s an excellent program and I hope that we can continue to receive funding and support for programs just like this.

There is also another federal program that helps support volunteerism nationwide. It’s under Americorps funding and is continuing the work for the orginal CCC by providing avenues for public service, training for all ages, and support for community and environmental development and improvement.

It’s wonderful to have so much history of civil service!

30 Gus January 10, 2010 at 10:25 pm

My Grandfather is very proud of the time he spent in the CCC. He credits this experience with toughening him up and preparing himself to serve as a Paratrooper in WWII.

31 Dave January 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

In the summer before my senior year in high school, back in the mid-70s, I spent several weeks working at a Youth Conservation Corps camp in the northern forests of my state, Wisconsin. For a middle-class kid from a small town, this was a revelation. For the first time in my life, I had to work every day, and work hard—blazing trails, building bridges, clearing streams, cutting trees and more. I met blacks and Latinos for the first time and learned they were just like everybody else; most worked hard, some slacked off. In our off hours we played softball and basketball and tried to make time with the girls. I wore military fatigues and boots and a hard hat every day. We had good food and good barracks and rec facilities, with supervision in the field from no-nonsense park rangers. I came home physically toughened and much more mature, and I had some money in my pocket to boot. I credit a lot of the success I’ve had in my life to what I learned at that camp. I would agree with many of the posters who say we as a nation would be well-served by a new CCC today. But it will never happen, I fear, because our political leaders don’t have the guts to buck the “activists” who want every sort of handout they can get for their particular group of victims.

32 Mack Hall January 20, 2010 at 8:23 pm

My father, who went on to serve in WWII, including the Bulge, was in the CCC in Horse Springs and Magdalena, New Mexico. He was very proud of his time in the CCC.

33 Jonas January 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm

My (late) grandfather was in the CCC during the 1930s and worked in California on the “Big-Sur / Pfieffer” projects, among other locations. I am deep into a genealogy of my family now, and am loving the pictures and other information from his time with the CCC.

Thanks for the documentary link, also!

34 Jonas January 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm

@ Mack Hall

The grandfather I mentioned in my post also went to WWII and was wounded during the the Battle of the Bulge, receiving a Purple Heart that I have with other things he sent/brought back.

35 Nicholas Schneider February 8, 2010 at 11:19 pm

My first job was with the Youth Conservation Corps, which is a direct descendant of the CCC, it was a really great experience and I learned a lot there. Anyone in high school or who has a child in high school should look into it, the guidance office at the school usually has the applications for it.

36 Karla March 22, 2010 at 11:49 am

Did the CCC camps have graduation and receive rings I have a ring with ccc on top and a tree and a survey transit I think on it. I would like some info on it if anyone can tell me.

37 Caroline August 14, 2010 at 4:25 am

I had no idea what the CCC was. I recently learned one of my uncles, a hero in WWII, had been in the CCC, and I thought I had found a skeleton in the closet. Now I see I have more reason to be proud of him. I have wonderful photographs of him looking a great deal like the shirtless young man; fit and healthy.

38 Karen Morais November 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm

What a joy to find and read this web page. My father climbed to the summit of Mt. Whitney in 1944 with a buddy
- they were 17 – had enlisted in the service – planned the climb for a year – before leaving for the service they accomplished their goal and climbed the mountain from the Giant Forest Village. My Dad has written a book of their climb – I have been helping him get it ready to publish – we have one proof copy and are ready to send to print the final – what I still need to know is who built the original hiking trails in Mt. Whitney? Dad wrote in his book that is was the CCC – from what I could research, the original trail was possibly used in August 1873, when Charles Begole, A. H. Johnson, and John Lucas of nearby Lone Pine, had become the first to reach the summit. There must have been some kind of a trail for them to use? who/what organization built the trail – ? Did the CCC re-build it in the 30s? I guess I can leave Dad’s description as he wrote – the CCC “built” the trail – but, he has okayed me changing his story to reflect the correct information if I can find it. Thank you for this wonderful web site – Karen Morais, proud daughter of Don.
PS – My son was in the CCC in 1987 in California.

39 Ben Lopez January 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Looking for CCC participants from Socorro County..My Dad’s name was Vidal C. Lopez. deceased.March 2008

40 Connie February 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Anyone have information on th CCC in Las Vegas, New Mexico?

41 Lenni Nordloh August 30, 2013 at 8:51 am

My Dad, Braxton Leslie Roberts, was the commander at the CCC camp in Douglas, WYO and MO. He told me many stories about the men he grew fondly of and their activities..My brother has many pictures taken during that time.

42 Coolhand November 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Today while talking to my mother I found out my favorite grandfather was in the Wisconsin CCC. He, like most young Americans wanted to serve his country at the beginning of WWII however he had a heart condition so he was either offered the CCC or asked how else he could serve his country. I’m in my late 40′s and always wondered how my grandfather knew so much about the outdoors. He also was a real man, treating people the way one would want to be treated themselves, he was color blind and viewed everyone equally unless they displayed actions that would disqualify them from that, as he used to say. To say he was the glue in our family would be an understatement. From the holidays, family picnics and parties and other activities that were never the same after his passing in 1981. He called me Coolhand which made me feel special.
After the little bit of research on the CCC program I’ve done today I think and agree with most of the others that have commented. In fact I believe that Gen. Mark Clark’s statement that the CCC saved the youth of the 1930′s by not only giving them dignity, self confidence, and a sense of worth. All of that is exactly what the youth of America needs right now. If programs like the CCC were brought back in some way shape or form it would lead to men and women having family values again, help to keep our youth off the streets, teach our youth that talking back and being disrespectful to their parents, elders, and strangers is wrong.
Back when I was growing up there was no such thing as talking back, not doing your chores, not in my family anyway. I truly believe that men like my grandfather that learned how to be real men had a lot to do with that. The United States of America is handing out to much free money! I’m not talking about the truly disabled or citizens that actually need it, I’m talking about the ones that take it for granted because they were brought up that way and know no different. I have friends and relatives that are unemployed but do not look for a job until the unemployment runs out. Back when my grandfather, father, and uncles were still alive collecting unemployment was shameful and everyone of the aforementioned sometimes worked two or three jobs to reach the amount of income they had before being laid off. Were they tired and worn out? Absolutely. Did they lose self respect, self worth, go on a shooting spree, spend the day in a tavern and come home to yell or beat on the kids and wife, kick the dog? Absolutely not, they did what real men are supposed to do, take care of their families.
So United States government instead of fighting amongst the two parties and spending money we borrow from China and other nations on these assanine assistance programs to individuals that could work but were taught how to cheat the system “again I’m not saying that some people cannot live without them”
I’m sure I’ll get some backlash on this but it needs to be said and done and that is to bring back some of these old programs like the CCC and other man making, self worth inducing, family value teaching programs that will actually improve the attitude of our population.
Regards and thanks to all that were involved in making America the beautiful country it used to be and can be again!!
Coolhand

43 Buddy December 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Oh if only the CCC could be reactivated for our woeful modern time. Mine is a lost generation.

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