Monday, April 1, 2013

The CCC Shaped Lives

(Commemorative postal stamp)

"We had no money. My father worked in a foundry. My $25 came home and paid the rent. It was a good clean life of discipline. Everything was spit and polish. You were outdoors all the time. You slept out under the stars at night. You learned how to get along with people, with the fellows. I think it shaped my life. I learned you don't get anything unless you work for it."

--Frank G. Schmidt, CCC Alumni, in the book "Roosevelt's Tree Army: A History of the Civilian Conservation Corps," by Perry H. Merrill, 1981.

According to the Anne E. Casey Foundation, "Nearly 6.5 million U.S. teens and young adults are neither in school nor in the workforce, veering toward chronic underemployment as adults and failing to gain the skills employers need in the 21st century..." (see December 2012 news release here).

Though the CCC was not a cure-all, it did help young adults find opportunities in the private sector. One camp instructor said, "...we learn from reports from the field that the boys leaving us have demonstrated qualities of neatness, precision and willingness, plus a degree of skill that encourages industrial plants to give them an opportunity to learn a skilled trade." ("CCC Training Puts Many In Industry," Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1940)

There is no CCC today, but we do have the highest incarceration rate in the world.

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