CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) boys working, Prince George's County, Maryland
Franklin Roosevelt faced a problem when the Great Depression put millions of able-bodied men out of work. His response included national service programs like the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps. He believed that this civilian “tree army” would relieve the rural unemployed and keep youth “off the city street corners.” Formed in March 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps, CCC, was one of the first New Deal programs. CCC camps were established in communities across America. The Corps helped to build and improve roads, construct three lakes, create infrastructure at newly charted state parks, Each camp afforded purposeful work for hundreds of men and had a lasting impact in the area it was built. Camp commanders had army-like powers and workers were required to address superiors as “sir.” By September 1935 over 500,000 young men had lived in CCC camps. The men planted millions of trees on land made barren from fires, dug canals and ditches, built wildlife shelters, stocked rivers and lakes with nearly a billion fish, restored historic battlefields, and cleared beaches and campgrounds. In all, nearly 3 million young men participated in the CCC provided unexpected preparation for the massive call-up in World War II.