On a recent cool, crisp spring morning in the mountains of Virginia, the Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 followed in the footsteps of the first “boys” of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC.
The first CCC camp, Camp Roosevelt, was established April 17, 1933 at the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Over time, the forest had 14 camps.
The forest was celebrating the Civilian Conservation Corps’ 80th anniversary by inviting the scouts, missionaries, and Forest Service employees to participate in stewardship projects around an old CCC camp.
Volunteers Westin Yardley and Ethan Richins said this was their first time participating in the clean-up.
“We cleaned out the fire pits, cleared off the trails from debris, and did some leaf blowing,” said Yardley.
Other stewardship projects included re-posting interpretative signs, which included pictures of what the camp looked like in the 1930s and snippets of history about the camp. The interpretative signs were financed by one of the Civilian Conservation Corps members.
“In his will, it stated that money would go to the Civilian Conservation Corps to help commemorate their legacy,” said Stephanie Chapman, recreation specialist on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest.
Ian Buschong, from Boy Scout Troop 88, was lead for this project and said, “I was interested in doing this project because the new signs will add to the camp experience.”
The Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work relief program under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, operated from 1933 to 1942. The program, for unemployed, unmarried men between 18 and 25 years old, provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.
Nationally, the Forest Service had several hundred camps across the U.S. mainland and Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.
Civilian Conservation Corps projects included:
- more than 3,470 fire towers erected
- 97,000 miles of fire roads built
- 4,235,000 man-days devoted to fighting fires
- more than 3 billion trees planted
- disease and insect control
- forest improvement — timber stand inventories, surveying, and reforestation
- forest recreation development — campgrounds built, complete with picnic shelters, swimming pools, fireplaces, and restrooms.
“I’m really glad the Boy Scouts are taking care of the place. If someone doesn’t do it, it’s not going to be done.” said Joan Sharpe, Civilian Conservation Corps legacy president.
“Conservation efforts such as this help to continue with tradition and helps (the scouts) learn by exposure.”