** war and social upheaval: World War II -- America youth organizations

War and Social Upheaval: American Youth Groups during World War II (1941-45)

Figure 1.--The Boy Scouts during World War II promoted merit badges and activities like First Aid that seem to have the greatest relevance to the War effort.

All the important youth groups sponsored activities to promote the war effort. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were the two most impoprtant organizations. But a variety of other organizations were also active. Groups like the Boy and Girl Scouts reached a much wider range of the country in the 1940s than was true in other countries with smaller middle classes. The Boy Scouts were very active during the War. Scouts begin campaign selling Defense Bonds and Stamps in 1941. They sponsored a variety of scrap drives beginning in 1942. The most important were for newspapers, scrap metal including tin cams, and old tires. The Girl Scouts was and continues to be a separate organization from the Boy Scouts in America. Girl Scouts collected silk stockings. Silk was needed for parachuttes and before the War, Japan had been a major supplier of silk to America. Camp Fire in the 1940s was exclusively for girls and known as the Camp Fire Girls. They sponsored programs in flag etiquette, first aid, and nutrition. The Minute Maids were active on college campuses during the War. They sold war stamps and bonds among other activities. There were also a varirty of other organizations, including local groups, which involved children in the War effort. The Junioir Commando program modeled after the Army was adopted by some youth groups.

Existing Youth Organizations

Virtually all American youth groups developed special programs to assist in the War effort. The most importnt of course was the Boy Scouts. America unlike much of Europe has one single Scout Association. nd junlike the Hitler Youth was both a voluntafy and a family-based program. The Girl Scojuts were lo sctive, but a snaller group. American youth groups unlike most other Scouts was not in a war zone, but the still made important contributions to the war effort. at the time free youth groups around the world like the Couts had been closed down. Mayor belligerants liuke the Sovirts and Fascists banned voluntary groups and created mabdatotu groups thy controlled. In other countries the Communists nd Fascists banned free groups. The American Scouting movement was the largest free group in the world.

New Groups

New special youth groups were organized just for the war effort.

Neighborhood associations

Neighborhood associations, community centers and churches also organized events for children to help "win the war at home." One important activity for children and adults alike was helping out with agricultural work. Participants would be picked up by a truck, given a bag, and then sent into the fields to pick cotton and strawberries or whatever crop needed harvesting. As a result of the War there was a critical wartime shortage of labor to maintain farm production.

Junior Commandos

The Junior Comando program modeled after the army was adopted by some youth groups. I believe that it was a program rather than a organization, but in fact have relatibely little information. There were ranks just like the Army. We notice some uniformsm, especially caps, but are unsure if this was a standard uniform. The program included some phyical training and war games, sometimes with helmets and wooden rifles. I don't know of any actual weapons training. Other activities included paper and scrap metal drrives.


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Created: June 7, 2002
Last updated: 5:29 AM 12/14/2014