Eagle Archives, August 13, 1947: Shaker Village Labor Camp Is a Unique Camping Experience | Story

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A new camping experience for this region, the Shaker Village Work Camp, Lebanon Mountain, will hold an open house on Sunday, August 24 at 6:30 p.m. Located in the area formerly occupied by the southern Shaker family, and led by Mr. and Mrs. Jérôme Comte, the camp is a work experience for teenagers to help them gain respect for the tools, materials and people who use them.

The purpose of this type of camping, Ms Count said, is “to give children a taste of economic independence, by instilling in them good work habits, which in turn will impress them with the importance of life together”. Unique to this region, similar labor camps are located in Putney, Vermont, and Buck’s Rock, Connecticut. The experiment seeks a balance between work-only camps and play-only camps. The region is particularly suited for this because of the Shaker industrial tradition. A four-hour work schedule from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the morning is balanced by an equal amount of time in the afternoon devoted to subjects such as ceramics, music, folklore and folk dance, and other cultural activities. Afternoon cultural activities and evening social activities are supervised by 12 staff members who are experts in their field. Miss Margot Mayo, who has traveled for the Library of Congress and written several books, is in charge of folklore and folk music.

A private camp, the 50 members are selected through personal interviews and recommendations from their schools. The only connection to the Shakers is the area used. The morning work program is concerned with recreating and preserving the Shaker atmosphere. The main communal dwelling built in 1831, the administrative building and the five-storey barn built shortly after the civil war have been restored. Representing 37 schools and 10 states (including California), the teens have their own government with a mayor and council, who plan their work projects. They built sports fields, an “amateur” radio station, a photographic studio and a cooperative store. They are paid for their morning work and the money is deposited to their credit. They draw on that credit to attend entertainments such as the recently concluded Tanglewood Festival.

This story within a story is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

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