The Camp Landon Voluntary Service Unit near Gulfport, Mississippi, sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee Voluntary Service Section, had its beginning with Civilian Public Service (CPS) Camp #141. The Civilian Public Service camp was opened in February 1945 to assist in the control of environmental diseases. In 1946 with the aid of a summer unit of eight young women and a number of year-round volunteers such additional projects as community recreation, Bible school, and home welfare were undertaken. The transition in March 1947 from CPS to Voluntary Service was therefore effected without difficulty. A few months following the close of CPS the unit was requested to vacate Camp Bernard, the CPS unit site. To provide a new site the Mennonite Central Committee secured a 25-year lease on six acres of land, purchased surplus government buildings, and moved them on this acreage. The unit was renamed Camp Landon because of its location in the Landon community.
Following the transition from CPS to Voluntary Service additional projects undertaken included home, school, and church building and repair, and the building of church and Sunday school equipment. About 60 families, 15 churches, and 15 schools received volunteer help. Shop and sewing classes were conducted for white and African American children for a number of summers. A program of weekly religious instruction and recreation was launched in most of the African American schools of the county. The total enrollment in these classes in 1954 was approximately 1,000 pupils. The summer Bible school program was expanded, the enrollment in 1954 reaching over 1,200.
In the summer of 1953 the first retreat for African American children was held, with 30 in attendance. In the fall a community center was opened for African Americans in the North Gulfport community.
The unit was well received by the community from the beginning. It was able to maintain good community relationships while working with both white and African American people. The contribution to improved race relations is difficult to measure but has been appreciated by the African Americans. The summer Bible schools, which now are largely conducted in cooperation with existing churches, have been highly appreciated. The work with the young people in the retreat, the schools, and the community center has promise of making a significant contribution to the young people and youth organizations in the churches.
Cite This Article
Kaufman, Orlo. "Civilian Public Service Camp (Gulfport, Mississippi, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 7 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Civilian_Public_Service_Camp_(Gulfport,_Mississippi,_USA)&oldid=79629.
Kaufman, Orlo. (1957). Civilian Public Service Camp (Gulfport, Mississippi, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Civilian_Public_Service_Camp_(Gulfport,_Mississippi,_USA)&oldid=79629.
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