|Photo montage of scenes at Church of the Brethren work camp following World War II. It is unknown if the location is Austria or Germany.
The Brethren Encyclopedia, Pgs. 1365 - 1367 has an excellent article upon which the following is taken:
Participants, usually young people, work without pay in the areas of human service or manual labor in order to ameliorate societal problems. A typical camp brings together twenty to thirty youth from varied backgrounds in a setting of physical or social need to work with local residents on a specific construction project. Initiated in Western Europe after WWI, the movement grew until the end of WWII, when hundreds of camps were organized each year by thirty voluntary agencies.
The Church of the Brethren cooperated with the American Friends Service Committee by recruiting camp members until 1939, when the COB undertook two camps under its own auspices, in Pennsylvania and in Washington. The camps came to be seen as a part of the denomination's peace program and as an excellent training ground for peace workers. The camps allowed pacifists to demonstrate their willingness to donate time and energy for constructive purposes. Dan West encouraged the camps as a demonstration to the US government that peace churches were active in reconciliation projects during peace-time. This demonstration could serve as the basis for alternative service under civilian control in wartime. Brethren Continued to sponsor work camps, particularly in the summertime and often in mental hospitals through the 1960s.
The first international work camps arranged by the Brethren were held in Europe in 1948 and were operated by the Brethren Service Commission (BSC). They became an integral part of the BSC European program. A fulltime coordinator in an office at Kassel, Germany, found project sites and recruited international participants. During the summers most of the BSC staff were involved in leading the camps and additional leadership was brought in from the USA. Beginning in Vienna (1950), one or two of the camps each year were organized as peace seminars.