The C.C.C. at Camp Upton

Middle Island Mail
September 18, 1935

Camp Life Described by Capt.
Orin D. Swank

Vocational Training is Increasing
Glee Clubs and Athletic Teams
Active-Musical Instruments and
Furniture Needed

"What do the men in the C.C.C. camps do?" and "What opportunities do they have for education and recreation?" are questions frequently asked with reference to the four Civilian Conservation Corps companies in Camp Upton. The answers were given by Capt. Orin D. Swank, chaplain of Co. 238 C.C.C. located at Yaphank.

Each company has approximately two hundred men. Three of the companies are engaged in constructing a fire-break around the reservation and fire-lanes and truck trails through it, and in reforestation. About two million trees, Norway pines, red pine, and black locust have been planted. The fourth company, under the direction of the state department of Fish and Game is at work establishing a public shooting games preserve, particularly for bobwhite quail. The State of New York Conservation department with the approval of the Federal Forest Service determines the work to be done and through camp superintendents and civilian foremen directs the men while at work.

Army officers are charged with the responsibility of clothing, feeding and housing the men and directing the many educational, recreational and social activities of camp life. In fact the situation calls for more of these activities than the educational advisor and the instructors in music, dramatics, and arts and crafts can provide because of being seriously handicapped by inadequate equipment. The C.C.C camp set up provides for only a minimum of equipment and any needed additional facilities must be provided otherwise.

The only furniture in the barracks is a fairly comfortable steel cot with mattress, sheets, pillows, and blankets for each man. The men usually provide some kind of a homemade locker for their personal effects. Plain benches without backs serve as seats in the mess hall and the recreational hall. These may be said to provide "solid comfort" by they are mostly solid and not so much comfort. The question is sometimes asked, what is needed in camp? Here are some things that would add greatly to the educational and social welfare of the men as well at to their comfort: furniture (except beds) and furnishings such as tables, chairs, dressers, electric lamps, pictures, rugs and carpets. There is real need for musical interments for individual and orchestra use and particularly pianos for use in the recreation halls. Athletic equipment and materials and equipment for arts and crafts and dramatics would be a great call for whatever is provided.

Even though the limitations are very real and there is much to be desired in the way of comforts, the men in the camps are to be commended for the way they have adjusted themselves to prevailing conditions and seeking to make the most of the situation. The desire for advancement in academic studies and in vocational training is on the increase. The spirit and morale of the men is constantly improving. The C.C.C. in Camp Upton is proud of its Glee clubs and athletic teams and stands ready to cooperate with other communities whenever possible. It is the desire of those in charge that there shall be the best possible understanding and good-will between C. C. C. and all its neighbors. A most cordial invitation is extended to all to visit the camps and see where the men live and work.

The development of a Glee club by the colored companies is very natural. Paul Lawerence Dunbar called his people "The race with a laughing heart." They sing much at their work and when they sing they harmonize naturally. It was this natural bent for singing that led Albert Medford the leader of the Co. 238 Glee club to get a group together and sing for their own enjoyment. But their services were soon in demand and they have been very active the last three months singing in many churches and other gatherings. They have been most cordially received and they own lives have been enriched by these experiences. It has been well said that only the colored people try to sing them, three always seems to be something missing. But these boys can sing, and are happy in doing so.

Review of C.C.C. is reduced by State Dept.

Retyped by: Lenee' Diebold
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