We realize that selecting high quality supervision for your child this summer is an important and likely difficult decision for you to make. We think that knowing who will be responsible for providing the supervision of your son is helpful in growing comfortable with our programs and philosophy. There is no substitute for the knowledge and perspective that can be gained with experience.
The permanent staff, which includes all the owners, are actively involved in every aspect of the camp’s management and operation. Their commitment to excellence is reflected in the quality, training and supervision of the summer staff, a large percentage of which returns year after year to help share their La Junta Experience and assure our strong traditions. Furthermore, a vast number of young men, after completing their camping years, move into the counselor role through the Counselor in Training program.
We are very proud of our experiences as directors as well as the dedication, training and passion of our summer staff. The entire ownership and all directors live on the camp grounds, and are involved in the important decisions, supervision and programming of the summer. Our goal is to provide our summer staff with intensive training before the kids arrive and exceptional support and supervision during each term.
Lawrence L. “Larry” Graham – Director Emeritus – over 60 Years in the CLJ Family
Larry first attended Camp La Junta in 1948 while his father, Luther Graham, was running the camps’ ranch services. Upon receiving an appointment to attend the Naval Academy, where he played varsity football and pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering, he left camping for ten years. After serving with the Navy Seals in active duty, and living three years in the Amazon River Basin designing and building jungle hospitals, Larry returned home in 1968 to take over for his father as Camp Director.
Always an adventurous spirit, Larry is responsible for many of the unique activity aspects of the current program as well as the philosophy of the Camp La Junta program.
His goal became the expansion of each boy’s self-confidence through the exposure to and mastery of new and challenging activities. Through his innovative Advanced Camper program, he was able to bring the La Junta program to a conclusion that took an enhanced self-image and added self-reliance.
Blake joined the staff in 1982 as a Junior at San Antonio’s Trinity University. After two summers as a Senior Counselor, Blake became a full time Program Director in 1984. A dedicated camper, he is also very involved in the community, having served as president of Texas’ Camping Association for Mutual Progress (C.A.M.P.), community volunteer, School Board Member, Church Elder, Sunday School Teacher, Utility Board President, youth Soccer Coach and Golfer.
Cheryl joined the La Junta family in 1985 as a Senior Counselor and Riding Instructor. After completing her degree at Trinity University she moved to Hunt and began to assume the daily operations of the office. She has been involved as a Community Volunteer, Junior Service Guild President, Sunday School Teacher, school volunteer and yoga instructor.
They have two sons, Josh, 20 and Ben, 17.
Together Blake and Cheryl have continued to nurture the important psychological aspects of the summer program. They are pioneers in the camping industry for their open and thorough parent communications as well as their ability to weave the camp philosophy throughout every aspect of the La Junta program.
David Domingue – Owner/Asst. Director – 30+ Years in the CLJ Family
A former La Junta All Around Cowboy, David’s La Junta Experience began as an eight-year-old camper in 1968. An experienced horseman and outdoorsman from Lake Charles, La., David has missed but one summer making the progression from camper to counselor to head of riding to assistant director in the process. His major responsibilities include our string of horses, ranch and physical plant. Locally Dave is involved as a Church Elder, youth leader, community volunteer and fill in school bus driver!
Dave’s wife, Autumn, is a Christian educator in Kerrville. They have three children, Zachary, 22, Halie, 21 and Luke 15.
David is not only responsible for keeping things running smoothly throughout the year, but he brings an important perspective of tradition to the program, staff and campers. His life and career have embodied the ideals of camp and the success of personal camping experiences as well.
Lori Watters – Office Manager/Registrar – 15+ years in the CLJ Family
Lori joined the La Junta family in 1997 and has been at the helm of our camper registration system ever since. She is a long time resident of Kerr County and a mom of three. Her son Cody, attended La Junta, giving Lori first hand experience as a camp parent in addition to her countless hours as a phone counselor to first time camp families.
Scott Fineske – Assistant Camp Director – 8 years in the CLJ Family
Scott moved to Hunt to become part of the La Junta family at Christmas 2006. Originally from Dallas, Scott grew up attending camp, worked his way through college at camp and even spent his four years at Baylor attaining his degree in Recreation Management so he could go back to camp. After a brief stint Pine Cove, Scott spent 6 years as the Camp Director at Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children, a special needs camp in central Texas. Scott brings a diverse perspective to the operation of La Junta’s summer program and the supervision of it’s staff. He is a past President of C.A.M.P. , a member of Young Men’s Business League, the founders of La Junta’s DreamKamp, a Sunday school teacher and youth sports coach.
Katie, his wife, is a designer for a custom home builder in Kerrville. They have two boys who attend camp, Caleb, 11 and Asher, 10.
Zach Pierson – Year ‘Round staff – Zach grew up at La Junta, starting when he was but a Wrangler. He attends Schreiner University during the mornings, and helps out after lunch with Outdoor Education, Staff Support and general logistics! During the Summer, Zach heads up our Riding Program.
Each summer La Junta endeavors to hire over 60 of the best young people available as Cabin Counselors and Activity Instructors. All of La Junta’s counselor staff live in the cabins with the boys and teach an activity during the day. Our summer staff is comprised mostly of college-aged youth, past honor campers and recent graduates of La Junta’s innovative and thorough Counselor in Training program.
La Junta staff are selected based upon their interest in young people, skills, maturity, common sense and potential ability as a role model. Each summer they are asked to keep each boy’s safety and success as their primary priorities. Regardless of previous experience, all take part in an extensive pre-camp training program to learn not only the ins and outs of the La Junta program, but the important skills necessary to work successfully with today’s youth. While here for the positive impact they will make on lives, they are also “expected” to have fun! A sensitive, skilled staff and small classes encourage beneficial one-on-one, learning relationships between campers and counselors.
Many of La Junta’s counselor staff have more than 10 years of camp experience, thus helping us maintain important traditions and allowing us to build on previous successes. As campers return for multiple summers, they can expect to see many familiar faces as La Junta traditionally boasts a 60% staff return rate – very high when you consider college graduation and similar factors.
All of La Junta’s staff are carefully screened, interviewed, provide references and their backgrounds are checked for criminal histories to confirm that each is appropriate for a camp position as well as commanding a sincere interest in young people. During staff training, our entire staff undergo Sexual Abuse Awareness training, First Aide, CPR and waterfront rescue training. It is our intention to prepare them for most every safety decision which may arise.
It is our intention that our college aged staff excel at providing stable and admirable role models. We expect them to be committed to putting their talent and energy into every aspect of each boy’s camp experience.
The supervision provided all campers in each of their activities is paramount to all other aspects of La Junta’s program. During all parts of the day…even free time…counselors are ever vigilant. In addition, enrollment each term is limited and classes are kept small to ensure the personal attention necessary for the instruction and guidance which La Junta is recognized. All activities are structured to enhance the development of close relationships between campers and members of La Junta’s staff. An exciting part of the program is the exuberance that a well trained instructor can transmit to an eager camper. Many long lasting friendships are developed in cabins, and a lifetime of hobbies are started through camp activities taught by our special staff.
In summary, the magic and success of the La Junta Experience is the implementation of a simple formula which combines beautiful facilities, exciting activities, independent programming, attainable awards and recognition and an experienced, well prepared staff with 600 enthusiastic boys each summer.