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Jimmy C's History Page
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Jimmy C's History Page

 

Jim Caufield retired in 2015 with over 50 years in the Boys & Girls Club movement. He has agreed to be the TPA historian so we can keep the true blue alive!  Caufield will host a series of articles that will be archived to discuss the Boys & Girls Club movement and The Professional Association.

 January 2017:

Some Historical Perspectives Number One

jimmyc

            The history of the Boys’ Club and Boys & Girls Club Movement has never been proven as historically accurate.  The original work was done by Eddie Pastore, a club executive from Newark, NJ and a member of the national staff for some 30 years.  Eddie was director of personnel and training and basically a one-man show who conducted training around the country.  Eddie was also a writer and did research using limited documents from the national office files. 

            Unfortunately, the national office was moved several times from Boston to New York before settling in the headquarters building at 771 First Avenue.  Every time the offices were moved, files were lost and every time a new staff member joined the staff, files were purged and valuable information was lost. 

            A.C. Campbell was one of the early pioneers becoming involved in the early 1900’s and director of national field services for over 30 years.  He was a member of the first national board and was the most knowledgeable person of Boys’ Clubs in the early years.

            When he retired as assistant executive director of Boys’ Clubs of America, David Armstrong, national director asked him to research and write a history of the development of the Boys’ Club Movement.  Mr. Armstrong said, “AC, I know you are aware that there is not written history of the Boys’ Club Movement and there are no records in the national office of anything which happened prior to the establishment of the national organization in 1906.  So, AC, I am asking you, as a member of the first board of directors, and your experiences as director of field services who knows all of the early leaders of the movement, to research and prepare an authentic history of the Boys’ Club movement.”  So AC went to work and five years later produced a 200 page typewritten document (transcribed from handwritten papers) tracing the history up to 1956.

            When he finished the document he sent it to David Armstrong for distribution to local Boys’ Clubs.  It never happened!  In 1986 when Tom Garth became national director the office he occupied was being renovated and I had to clean out a closet in the office. At the back of the closet under piles of papers I found a box addressed to David Armstrong from AC Campbell.  It was unopened and wrapped in brown paper with two dollars in postage stamps in the right corner.  I opened the box and almost fainted!  Here it was the real documented history of the Boys’ Club movement, unseen until that day.  What I know and understand about our early beginnings comes from this document...

            I spoke with some long time members of the national staff when I found the document and asked why it was never published.  Evidently, some of the staff had an idea of what was in the document as AC had shared drafts of his work with a few people.  The document was completed in 1956 and much of the history had already been written (and taken as gospel!) by Eddie Pastore.  There was some concern that AC may have opened a literal Pandora’s Box with his research which could cause confusion and problems throughout the movement.  So it was in limbo.  It has never been published, but I have used it on many occasions to explain the reasons why things happened in the movement.

THE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION

            How and why was a professional association created?  Who started it?

            Campbell explains that in the early 1930’s the movement was in a disturbing and turbulent period with the resignation of national executive Sanford Bates.  Bates was the former director of the national prison system and implemented a number of policies and mandates impacting local organizations.  Bates had no knowledge of Boys’ Clubs and no experience in working in a local organization.  The Bates administration decided to establish Boys’ Club work under the group work formula of the schools of social work and the president of the National Group Work Association was brought in as the director of education for the national organization.

            A group work specialist, inexperienced in “Boys’ Club work” was hired to conduct a study of an old established Boys’ Club which resulted in the existing executive being replaced by a group worker and a group work program was instituted in the club with the approval of Bates and the national organization.

            It became increasingly obvious to Boys’ Club workers that the long established philosophies and methods of Boys’ Clubs was in danger of being discredited and disapproved by the group work proponents.  They realized that if the time honored practice of Boys’ Clubs was to be preserved, there was immediate need of organization of Boys’ Club workers. 

            The group of organizers was referred to as “The Old Timers” as they were all long term experienced executives.  Eventually the organization was called the Boys’ Club Executive Association and later the American Boys’ Club Associates.  The association was designed for the protection, welfare, and education of those who were professionally engaged in Boys’ Club work.  It carefully avoided all matters which were not specifically the professional concern of the worker himself.  It developed strength, confidence, loyalty and security among Boys’ Club workers.

            The association issued a number of papers outlining the Boys’ Club philosophies and methods of work.  They also developed a code of ethics, qualifications for a Boys’ Club worker, and obligations and responsibilities of the professional Boys’ Club worker (these will be the topics of future historical perspectives.)

            However, with the efforts of the Bates administration to change the nature of Boys’ Club work the association took issue.  Their concerns were brought to the national board of directors and pressured was put on the board to remove Bates from office.  Bates resigned to accept an offer from the state of New York.  

           The membership requirement for minimum and essential benefits came about through the efforts of the professional association.  Changes in the pension program were made through the efforts of the professional association.

The association has a long and interesting history.  Its beginnings stemmed from a need to protect the professional Boys’ Club worker but they also took a stand on the policies and mandates of the national organization.

            Is it time for the Professional Association to review its purposes and take a stand on issues affecting professional workers?

NOTE

            This was written by Jim Caufield, retired Club professional.  Comments, questions, suggestions for future articles can be sent to:

Jimcaufield50@gmail.com

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