Volume I - No. 4
GROUP CAMPING - 1938 MODEL
By John I. Neasmith and Stanley M. Hawkins,
Twenty-six organized camps and two tent camping sites provided over 200,000 camper-days on Recreational Demonstration Areas in Region I during the last summer.
Camping facilities were leased to a variety of organizations, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Y.M.H.A., Y.W.H.A., Camp Fire Girls, Salvation Army, Y.M.C.A., Lutheran and Brethern societies, League for Crippled Children, Optimist Club, Family Service Association, Jewish Community Center and a State Commission of Forestry.
Seven camps were operated for boys, three for girls, fourteen were co-educational, two were for mothers and tots, and one was for families.
In several instances, the official lessees served other agencies. The South Carolina Commission of Forestry operated camps on two Recreational Demonstration Areas within the state for such organizations as The Salvation Army, Board of Christian Education of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and Rural Farm groups. Three of the Y.M.C.A. leases served underprivileged boys sent by service clubs, newspapers, juvenile courts, and the Louisville "Cabbage Patch Settlement."
A recent trend has been the incorporation of community organizations for the leasing, management and operation of camps. In New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Georgia such agencies have satisfied the camping needs of several organizations in nearby centers of population and in the state at large. It is expected that an additional number of such "overhead" corporations will be established and functioning before next season.
Most of the organizations provided a varied and well balanced program, assuring to the participants a most satisfactory camping experience, although some agencies encountered difficulty in obtaining adequate funds, particularly those that had never before attempted a camping program.
At the start, many of the camp directors found it necessary to adapt themselves to the unit-type layout, since their previous experience had been gathered in very compact groups of buildings, and they missed the ability to step to the door and call any camper or counsellor. They and their staffs quickly realized the distinct advantages of the unit system and soon made necessary program adjustments. By the end of the season, favorable reaction was practically unanimous.
Most central building groups were ample for the needs of the using organizations. The large administration buildings of the earlier camps have not proved popular, although canteens located in them have generally been used. Offices usually were maintained in dining halls or staff quarters. In one case the administration building was used as a craft shop. It is believed that the small office building now recommended, when conveniently located, will be sufficient for most organizations.
All agencies appeared to welcome the infirmary, but few were used extensively. In instances where the camp was convenient to nearby hospitals or sick cases were not permitted to remain overnight in camp, a smaller building would have sufficed.
Quarters for staff and help were ordinarily adequate. In some in stances, directors and assistant directors were permitted by the lessees to bring their families to camp and infirmaries and staff buildings were used as living quarters. After discussions with several of the camp directors, it is not thought that these conditions will prevail another year.
Recreation buildings, where available, were used to advantage, but lack of this item did not appear to work a hardship on the using agency. Several directors indicated desire for such a building because of a program designed to meet community deficiencies.
Central shower houses, variously designed as to size and equipment, were ample. The 275-gallon hot water tank with appurtenant heater in which a low fire was maintained continuously seemed to work better than the larger installations which were ordinarily fired with scrapwood or rubbish a few hours before shower time.
Garages were little used except for temporary storage. Staff cars, when not on the road, were apt to be found in parking area or service yard.
Dining halls and kitchens proved satisfactory to most using agencies. The few cases of inability to maintain sufficiently low temperatures in refrigerators were attributable to failure to follow specifications rather than to faulty design.
The splendid adaptability of most camp directors to available facilities was gratifying. The interest and cooperative spirit of organization staffs in all matters of health, sanitation, safety, better programs and standards were most heartening. Organizations fostered and encouraged every effort which tended to raise standards of past performance.
Health is an important result of camping experience for growing children, particularly if each child may be maintained in camp several weeks. At Catoctin, the Maryland League for Crippled Children has completed its second year of camping program. All but two percent of the 96 crippled children who spent eight weeks in camp were wholly subsidized. Ranging in age from six to twenty-two, and from families of very low income, their physical handicaps resulted from infantile paralysis, spastics, spina befida, old bone infections and accident cases involving amputation. Selected by a committee of Baltimore physicians, they are treated throughout the school year through the support of the League.
Initiation of this camping program has obviated lapse during the summer of beneficial results accruing through the rest of the year. Continuity of treatment also has permitted earlier termination without fear of retrogression. As a result, the League has been able to extend the benefit of its work to a greater number of children.
Again, at Laurel Hill, a program conducted by the State Teachers College of California, Pennsylvania, was organized to provide rehabilitation for boys and girls with stuttering lisping, sound substitutions, nasality and allied speech disorders. In addition to caring for the children's physical health, social adjustment of these individuals, vitally important in speech disorders, was arrived at through well directed recreational activities.
In this, the first speech rehabilitation program conducted in the East, some of the results accomplished were outstanding. Within a few weeks after entering camp, a twelve-year-old girl who had never spoken an intelligible word had a vocabulary of over 250 words which she could speak as distinctly as any child. Other instances were equally startling.
This camp also made a determined effort to plan and execute a sound program for the development of future counsellors. In cooperation with the camp director, the seven junior counsellors planned and directed certain programs and were held responsible for the leadership of all camp activities.
Many different methods of operation and management were in use during the season, most of them improvements over the method prevalent in 1937, which involved a complete change of staff with each change in organization occupancy. Three typical setups will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
At Otter Creek, Kentucky, the Louisville Y.M.C.A., a strong organization in the community, operated probably the longest season, opening early in June and closing September 15. In addition to boys of their own membership, they served the Salvation Army, three church groups, Fresh Air Fund boys subsidized by the two city newspapers, and boys from the "Cabbage Patch Settlement" sponsored by the Optimist Club.
The camp at Bear Brook, New Hampshire, was leased and operated by New Hampshire Camps, Inc., which includes in its membership the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation and 4-H Clubs, District Y.W.C.A., and Girl Scouts. The operating staff of the parent organization functioning for the entire season, was headed by a business manager, who provided the water front director, nurse, and kitchen help, and who further had complete charge of all physical facilities, including maintenance of buildings and purchase and preparation of food. Each participating organization brought in for its term of occupation a director in complete charge of program for his organization, together with those counsellors who lived in the units. This system practically eliminated the end of period confusion previously attendant upon each change of campers.
In South Carolina the State Commission of Forestry is the agency which is later expected to assume the administration of two Recreational Demonstration Areas within the state, at Cheraw and Kings Mountain In order to become thoroughly familiar with the problems connected with such administration, and with praiseworthy regard for the benefits to the underprivileged citizens of the state, the Commission rented and paid for the two camps on these areas. It furnished a skeleton administrative staff, equipped the camps, and furnished all meals. A very low fee was charged for such state service. In this way, camping was made available to many organizations that could not have afforded to set up a camp of their own. This method of operation proved quite successful and it is hoped will continue.
The Chopawamsic area has provided an example of diversified camping use. Two camps were in operation in 1936, three during 1937 and four the current season, all campers coming from Washington, D. C. Three of the 1938 camps were community supported, and furnished not only food and leadership, but also transportation, clothing, swim suits and medical and dental care. The staffs were drawn from the best sources, some members coming from as far away as New York City and the New England states. Two of the camps were operated for Negroes and two for whites. Each race used a "mothers and tots" camp. The remaining white camp was co-educational while the second Negro camp was for boys only.
An interesting variation from camping precedent was evident at Hard Labor Creek in Georgia. The camp was leased by the Optimist Club of Atlanta, and turned over to the public school system to operate for all boys of that city and of nearby communities. The schools also will supplement their classroom work by sending groups to camp for short periods during the coming fall and spring.
In the South for years camping facilities have not been available on a scale comparable with those in the North. For this reason the people of the South have not been as familiar with the technique and benefits of camping as their more northerly brothers. It has even been said that they would not camp if the opportunity were provided. The use during the past season of sixteen camps on Recreational Demonstration Areas south of Washington would seen to disprove that theory.
After several years of effort in providing repeatable demonstrations of adequate organized camping facilities located conveniently to the large centers of population, it is now most gratifying to discover that communities and previous non-camping organizations are increasingly eager to be helped in working out plans for the best use of such facilities. They appreciate the value of returns to the communities which are realized from benefits derived by individuals who are afforded camping opportunities.
It is a significant fact that community planning of recreation and the solution of problems have been advanced several years as a result of the action of the National Park Service in designating Advisory Committees on Camping in the large centers of population which are served by the Recreational Demonstration Areas. The interest of this Service in the recreational and camping needs of these communities has provided a much needed impetus to Councils of Social Agencies, Camping Committees, and directors of Community Chests. It has crystallized many problems which have heretofore been so nebulous that they have appeared insurmountable.
At the eighth Annual Camp Institute held in 1937, Marshall H. Levy, director of the Ann Arbor Boys Guidance Project, Perry School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, reported:
The National Park Service, in its Recreational Demonstration Project program, is in the forefront of this movement. Through the close cooperation and personal contacts of our representatives with state and community officials, the Service is rapidly attaining a position of outstanding prominence in the field of recreation and camping.
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