NYA and Camp Judea

A Tale of Three Letter’s

 On November 10, Gerald Hyde, of the Department of the Interior addressed a letter to Commissioner Ernest Dean of the Department of Conservation stating that a permit was issued to the National Youth Administration (NYA) for occupancy of the buildings at Camp SP-25. The permit would be for three months. The letter further advised the Commissioner to make a formal request to take over the buildings and issue the permit, if the Department desired.

On November 18, Commissioner Dean replied, requesting custody of the buildings for the purpose of razing them with the intention of salvaging materials to be used for other repairs and improvements by the CCC.

On March 23, 1939, Gerald Hyde informed the Commissioner that on March 7, the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department authorized transfer of the buildings to the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for use by the (NYA).

National Youth Administration (NYA)

Another New Deal program created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the NYA provided assistance to youth ages 16-25 to assist them in getting jobs. In 1938 there were 200,000 youth unemployed in Massachusetts with up to 7 million in the US. The NYA provided financial aid to students and work programs to provide hands on vocational training to others.

John Donovan, a former Harvard football coach was head of the program in Mass. The main office was in a Park Square building in Boston where young men and women were interviewed for their academic and dexterity skills. Some were placed directly into jobs, while others were given the opportunity for vocational education in training camps. There were Workshop Centers in Upton and Holyoke, as well as a farm resident center in Methuen. There were five-month training periods for 200 young boys at a time. They earned $10.00 a month plus room and board, and could continue for another five months if the foreman gave them a good recommendation.

The Workshop Center at Upton was open from December 1938 to December 1939. This occupation was critical in the preservation of the camp buildings and footprint, since it provided the link to future adaptive reuse that continued until 2003.

 Camp Young Judaea

 On July 23, 1940, the Boston Globe reported that State Commissioner of Conservation, Raymond J.  Kenney announced that abandoned CCC sites in State Forests and Parks would be opened to underprivileged children for vacations. This included the use of the CCC Camp at Upton State Forest by the Boston Council of the Friends of Young Judaea. According to a 1946 article in the Nashua (NH) Telegram, the camp was used as a Zionist Leaders’ Training Camp known as “Camp Upton.” The camp was run along the lines of a Palestinian Kvutzah (co-operative settlement), and included a practical education program. As a result of improvements made to the buildings at the site, the group was awarded a citation by the state and was offered the camp grounds the following year.

As a result of the success at Upton, the group moved to a permanent site in Amherst, NH and established Camp Young Judaea, the Zionist Youth Camp of New England, in Amherst NH, still active today.