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June 6, 2011 by wcobserver

Devil's Den Diary

Devil’s Den State Park Softball Games are more than just Good Fun!

By Rebekah Spurlock, Interpreter, Devil’s Den State Park

“We have a wealth of good material here in camp but we’ll never get anyplace unless the players go in there and hustle. We are under severe handicaps, including a lack of equipment. What we must do if we want to go places is get in there and fight. If we’re not willing to do that, then we had better just forget it, because anything that’s worth doing is worth doing right.”

(Excerpt from July 31, 1936 Voice of Satan, the CCC’s newsletter at Devil’s Den State Park, in reference to the unanimous decision to continue the Devil’s Den baseball club, the Angels.)

Many visitors are surprised that Devil’s Den State Park hosts a softball game almost every day at 4 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day, at the softball field in Campground E as part of our living legacy started by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). The Civilian Conservation Corp, of course, is the group of hard-working young men that created Devil’s Den State Park, as well as many parks across the nation. The CCC was a federal program started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 to stimulate the economy during the Great Depression. But if you hear the stories of the CCC boys, it did so much more than that.

The CCC allowed many young men opportunities to get an education, a chance to make their own way in the world and help their families, and it taught them the spirit of teamwork and gave them a great sense of accomplishment. We try to keep that spirit of teamwork and good sportsmanship alive at the park by inviting visitors to join us in a softball game in the very field that the CCC boys played baseball as the Devil’s Den Angels. By carrying on this long-standing tradition, the park can revitalize the important story of the CCC and the impact they had on this very special place. It is easy to forget the hard work that it took to create this park and what the CCC meant to so many young men and their families, but by engaging visitors in a fun game of softball, we can illustrate that these young men were just like us – when they were not working hard, they liked to have fun! And baseball was a great way for them to have some friendly competition and visit neighboring communities like Tontitown and Winslow.

When we play softball at Devil’s Den State Park, we have our own rules to keep the games safe and fun. Our rules are a mixture of t-ball rules, softball rules, and park-inspired rules, such as hitting a tree on the fly is an automatic double and all players 5-and-under are base-getters (although some of the littlest players pack the mightiest swings).

Everyone is invited to play, and the park is able to provide gloves, bats and balls. However, some of the equipment is in about as good of shape as what the CCC boys had to use, so we are always looking for donations of out-grown gloves and dusty bats.

Playing softball is a great way for visitors to get to know one another, and has become a favorite pastime of many families that visit the park. Each year we host a softball tournament on the Fourth of July, and this year we are pleased to announce that we will be hosting the First Annual Kid’s Softball Tournament on Sunday, July 3. It may not be the field where dreams are made, but it is certainly a field where lifelong memories and friendships have been made. So consider joining us for a spirited game of softball this summer.

For questions or comments, please contact Rebekah Spurlock at 479-761-3325 or rebekah.spurlock@arkansas.gov.

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