HEALTH AND RECREATION
Moral and physical welfare of enlisted men the government's first consideration---Woman's Committee, Y. W. C. A., and other organizations assist Commission on Training Camp Activities---How women have helped in many states.
Addressing a company of women war workers in Washington in September, 197, the Secretary of War said: "Never before in the history of any people has an army been assembled under conditions so wholesome, so clean, and so stimulating to the personal pride and to the national credit as the army we are now assembling in the United States. The old stories of soldiers' camps, with their perils, their disasters, their temptations, are in a large degree past, and because we are a civilized people, because our civilization is more than a matter of collars and cuffs, because we are a moral people, we have determined to surround our army, not with a system of prohibitions and restraints, but with a system of wholesome environments and stimulating inducements to self-improvement and high conduct, of such character that everybody who visits one of our camps will come away thrilled with the thought that at last this sort of business can be carried on in a manner highly creditable to a great nation."
As early as May 18, 1917, the War Department was authorized by Congress and the President to make such regulations as seemed advisable concerning conditions surrounding the camps. Accordingly, Secretary Bakerorganized a commission to advise on questions relating to the moral hazards in training centers; as well as the promotion of rational recreation facilities within and without the camps. Of this commission Mr. Raymond B. Fosdick was appointed chairman.
It would be a long story indeed if all of the work women have done in the interest of the health and happiness of our American soldiers were recorded, for in practically all of the splendid plans that have been set on foot for safeguarding the health and morals of the soldiers on land and sea, women have been asked to contribute a large share.
On Mr. Fosdick's commission under the Navy Department are two women, Mrs. Helen Ring Robinson, former state senator from Colorado, and Mrs. Daisy McLauren Stevens. The authorized organizations working within the camps are, the Young Men's Christian Association and Knights of Columbus and there are authorized directors of theaters, libraries, athletics and music. The authorized organizations working outside the camps are, the Playground and Recreation Association of America, in cooperation with all organizations both of men and women. In addition to these organizations there are two others of special interest, which consider in their plans the care of girls. These also are under the special authority of Mr. Fosdick. They are the sub-committee on Protective Work for Girls, Miss Maude E. Minor, chairman, and the sub-committee on Proper Chaperonage of Girls under Miss Katherine Scott. The latter has charge of the "Hostess Houses."
The Surgeon-General has sent out special communications addressed to the men in the camps, and the Army Medical Department, the United States Public Health Service, the War Department Commission and Civil Authorities have all been active in the interest of the health and well-being of our soldiers.
The Secretary of War asked that the Woman's Committee cooperate in all of these activities and Mrs. Philip N. Moore was appointed chairman of the Department of Health and Recreation of the Woman's Committee. Mrs. Moore is eminently qualified to serve as chairman of this committee. She has long been prominently identified with national movements looking to the betterment of conditions among which we live. She was president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs and is now president of the National Council of Women, America's largest and most far-reaching organization of women.
In addition to asking the assistance of the women of the country through the Woman's Committee, the commission of which Mr. Fosdick is chairman asked the cooperation and assistance of women's organizations wherever they are willing to give their services.
Mrs. Moore asked that each state chairman of the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense appoint a member to represent her state in this important work. In each state in which there is a military camp the name of the man in charge of the recreational activities outside of the camp was sent to the state chairman with the request that she communicate with him and offer the services of the Woman's Committee in the state. Inside the camps work is all to be done by the Young Men's Christian Association In the beginning no plans seem to have been made by the Navy Department for the recreations and protections around the naval camps, Mr. Fosdick not having charge of these, and the YMCA. having charge only of the outside of the camps. The Woman's Committee, through its chairman of Health and Recreation, took up the matter of influences surrounding the naval camps in the interest of an arrangement similar to that regarding the military camps.
In every state where camp of soldiers are in training the Woman's Committee has been grappling with the grist of problems that they create. First, there is the problem of hospitality. What will be practical and acceptable for them to undertake? One worker divides the work into retail and wholesale hospitality. The former consists of inviting the boys into the homes, taking them on motor drives, and furnishing them healthful amusements and wholesome company. Wholesale hospitality is defined as that undertaken by the big organizations where soldiers and sailors are invited en masse to lectures, entertainments, or dinners.
As soon as the North Carolina Division of the Woman's Committee learned that there was to be a cantonment of some sixty thousand men near Charlotte, the women at once began to lay their plans to operate with the city authorities in making the camp what they would desire it to be. The State
Chairman, Mrs. Eugene Reilly, said that the Committee on Health and Recreation was most active in arranging with all the women's organizations of the community to provide entertainment for the soldiers. They arranged that every organization in the town should adopt or stand sponsor for one company of men, furnishing them with amusements magazines and books, inviting them to church and to dinner, opening their club or society rooms to them, and in every way possible surrounding them with wholesome and friendly influences. The Committee Chairman said that the women were just as attentive to the soldiers who come to them as strangers from New England as they are to their own boys, "and," she adds, "we expect that strangers will do the same for our boys."
Certainly Massachusetts reciprocated this thoughtfulness. A special committee from the women's colleges provided club houses and homes outside the camp. Their purpose is to have as many of these homes as possible where soldiers will find recreation friendly interest and refined surroundings; the kind of homes from which the majority of them have come. Each home will be provided for by a separate college group, either alumnae, undergraduates, or both, and each will have a college "mother." The college mother will be permanent or as nearly so as possible, but the helpers may vary from week to week A few will give their services in the home itself and others will provide the things needed to make it attractive- furnishings, games, books, pianos, victrolas. Such an undertaking is particularly practicable in the case of the reserve officer training camps made up largely of college men. With modifications to suit local needs the plan could be worked out to advantage in connection with almost any camp.
A helpful camp service in which many of the State Divisions are preparing to cooperate, is that undertaken by the American Library Association. It is organizing committees to collect and distribute reading matter in the training camps and has even prepared to put up libraries in some of the camps. The Missouri Division took hold of this work with particular zest, giving the matter wide publicity and arranging for the collection of books at local libraries throughout the states. It has even furnished boxes of the proper dimensions in which to pack the books collected.
Several of the groups of women involved have reechoed the word laid down by the Library Association, that only worth-while books are wanted. "Do not go up to the garret and pick up material that has been discarded because it is too dull to be kept on the library shelves-give the boys the best. They want good fiction. They are keen for scientific books and periodicals. They want everything you can give them about war, about sports, they want the news of the world. Because a thing has been printed and bound it does not follow that it will be useful to send to a cantonment. "No woman, either, need have any doubt about her contributions being well taken care of. The American Library Association is directly responsible to the Government in this work.
Where soldiers are temporarily camped in a town, or where they are traveling, one much appreciated attention is supervising the food that the boys get.
This seems to have been managed very well by the women of the Woman's Committee in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They responded immediately not only to the call of furnishing good wholesome amusements for the boys mobilized at their gates, but during the two weeks when the camp of eight hundred boys was at Grand Rapids they furnished their meals. The different days of the week were assigned to various organizations so that while hundreds of women were engaged in the feeding of the soldiers, no one group was in constant service. In the two weeks the women furnished thirteen hundred meals, including breakfasts, dinners and suppers. They did it so economically that from the allotment of twenty-five cents per head a meal, they had a surplus to go into the mess fund of the Grand Rapids Battalion, and the boys were satisfied, for when the camp broke up the praise came to the women from all sides for the catering they had done.
The greatest of all problems that confront the women in the vicinity of the camps is that of guarding the young girl. Where soldiers are stationed either temporarily or permanently, the problem of preventing girls from being misled by the glamour and romance of war and beguiling uniforms looms large. Maryland has proposed a Patriotic League of Honor which will inspire girls to adopt the highest standards of womanliness and loyalty to their country. From New York comes the suggestion that the teachers of girls may be invaluable in making girls realize the dangers. In clubs formed for war service guidance could be given incidentally with instruction. Girls employed in the big industries are most in danger, but if some happy slogan should be found which would in itself constitute a sort of badge of courage and loyalty, it would be far better than depending on supervision. The number it is possible to chaperone carefully is necessarily limited.
Mrs. Philip N. Moore, Chairman of the Health and Recreation Department, made the following recommendations which were adopted by the Committee as part of the plan of work for that Department: "The Health and Recreation Department of the State Divisions of the Woman's Committee will work outside the camps and where men are in very small groups. The Committee suggests training schools for protective officers, resembling those of England, to be established in two or three cities in the United States and to be run in connection with Schools of Philanthropy. The Committee will ask these divisions to assist in developing the neighboring communities with adequate facilities for providing entertainment, comforts and recreation. The request will also be made that they attempt to coordinate all organized and individual work that may be offered. The plan includes conferences with community organizations, such as churches, lodges, local , Red Cross, Salvation Army, Y.M.C.A., etc., with a view to a composite program. It will also include a request to the women of the country to throw open their homes and clubs to soldiers and enlist the aid of religious, social and fraternal organizations."
The United States Government has spoken in no uncertain terms as to what it expects of the existing philanthropic and charitable agencies, the women's organizations and the machinery of the various state organizations in the matter of providing every protection for the men in the camps. The result of a general survey of the philanthropic agencies of the country was very carefully tabulated; the needs of the charities or protective associations were formulated; charts showing opportunities for service were prepared and the strength of the plans was reënforced by publicity in the daily papers. Women who were willing to do social service work were asked to aid in this Department and to take a course in training for the work. The Department asked State chairmen to see to it that lists of the training classes in philanthropy and social service should be posted side by side with the charts showing opportunities for service in the local charities, and that they be given equal publicity.
The attitude of the Government on this subject is best shown by a letter which was sent by the Secretary of War to the Governor in each state and to each state chairman of the Council of National Defense. In this letter the Secretary said,
"I am very anxious to bring to the attention of the State Councils of Defense a matter in which they can be of great service to the War Department. In the training camps already established or soon to be established large bodies of men, selected primarily from the youth of the country, will be gathered together for a period of intensive discipline and training. The greater proportion of this force probably will be made up of young men who have not yet become accustomed to contact with either the saloon or the prostitute, and who will be at that plastic and generous period of life when their service to their country should be surrounded by safeguards against temptations to which they are not accustomed.
Our responsibility in this matter is not open to question. We cannot allow these young men, most of whom will have been drafted to service, to be surrounded by a vicious and demoralizing environment nor can we leave anything undone which will protect them from unhealthy influences and crude forms of temptation. Not only have we an inescapable responsibility in this matter to the families and communities from which these young men are selected, but, from the standpoint of our duty and our determination to create an efficient army, we are bound, as a military necessity to do everything in our power to promote the health and conserve the vitality of the men in the training camps
I am determined that our new training camps, as well as the surrounding zones within an effective radius, shall not be places of temptation and peril. The amendments to the Army Bill recently passed, a copy of which I enclose herewith (sections 12 and 13), give the War Department more authority in this matter than we previously possessed. On the other hand, we are not going to be able to obtain the conditions necessary to the health and vitality of our soldiers without the full cooperation of the local authorities in the cities and towns near which our camps are located, or through which our soldiers will be passing in transit to other points.
Will you give earnest consideration to this matter in your particular state? I am confident that much can be done to arouse the cities and towns to an appreciation of their responsibility for clean conditions and I would suggest that, through such channels as may present themselves to you, you impress upon these communities their patriotic opportunity in this matter. I would further suggest that as an integral part of the war machinery your Council make itself responsible for seeing that the laws of your State and of Congress in respect to these matters are strictly enforced. This relates not only to the camps established under Federal authority, both the present officers' training camps and the divisional training camps soon to be opened, but to the more or less temporary mobilization points to the national guard units. It relates, too, as I have indicated, to the large centers through which soldiers will constantly be passing in transit to other points. As I say, the War Department intends to do its full part in these matters, but we expect the cooperation and support of the local communities. If the desired end cannot otherwise be achieved, I propose to move the camps from those neighborhoods in which clean conditions cannot be secured.
Chapter VIII. Patriotic Education
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