Aerial Photograph of Camp Hope
Situated near Greenwood Lake in upper West Milford, NJ, Camp Hope was initially developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Company 1201 as Camp S-68 to house workers working at the Newark Waterworks. Following the closure of the worker’s barracks, the cabins sat abandoned for roughly two years. Freedmen Ernest T. Scheidemenn pushed for the County of Passaic to grant them access to the cabins at Smith Mills (now West Milford) instead of demolishing them to turn them into a children’s summer recreation camp “for the undernourished and underprivileged children of Passaic County.” (Paterson News, February 7, 1938, 1)
After being granted access to the land, Camp Hope was born. From there, a restoration project opened up camp by June 25, 1936, with the help of many CCC and WPA workers from Company No. 1201. When Freedman Ernest T. Scheidemann received the cabins from the County of Passaic, little work needed to be done. The significant work was already handled due to the previous occupants of the camp, meaning the only cost to the County of Passaic was providing food for the campers, along with some minor structural changes and solving some electricity issues.
After its first season, Camp Hope was a massive success. The first season at Camp Hope provided over 837 underprivileged children a chance to explore the outdoors and interact with others their age. Unfortunately, after funding ran short, in 1937, the camp moved to Sussex, returned in 1938, and in 1939 moved operations to a different CCC camp in West Milford. The exact location of the original Smith Mills camp is uncertain; however, a new Camp Hope, run by the County of Passaic, exists in upper West Milford, NJ, off of Union Valley Road today.
“Passaic County Shows Way to Rest of County in Use of CCC Camp”. Passaic Herald-News. September 16, 1936. 2. https://www.newspapers.com/image/524608586/
“Pompton Vets Endorse Move To Save Camp Hope”. Paterson News. February 7, 1938. 31. https://www.newspapers.com/image/525652200/
“View of Passaic County/s Camp Hope for Children”. Herald News. July 20, 1936. 2. https://www.newspapers.com/image/525427416/
“Smith Mills Site Cannot Be Had For Camp Hope”. The Morning Call. February 15 1937. 1. https://www.newspapers.com/image/554286508
“700 Underprivileged Youngsters Enjoying Summer Vacations at Camp Hope, High in Ramapo Mountains”. Paterson Evening News, August 4, 1954. 2. https://www.newspapers.com/image/527245520/
“Wage-Hour Bureau Shift Plan For Camp Hope Harmful.” The News, April 15 1958. 2. https://www.newspapers.com/image/531623605
“The Great Depression.” The Daily Record, September - December 1934. https://mcl.mainlib.org/depression/1934sept_dec.pdf
Project originally submitted by Michael Restuccia on December 21, 2021.
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