In addition to our extensive activity incentive program, La Junta boasts many daily traditions which add to the excitement as well as the opportunity for success. At La Junta, much effort is put into providing an attainable goal for each boy in every aspect of his camping. Although not every goal will be reached, much will be learned in their pursuit and the successes attained will last a lifetime.
Even a busy day of productive activities does not guarantee a successful summer. Some boys need other avenues to attain a meaningful sense of accomplishment. La Junta has evolved an elaborate system of special programs to compliment the daily program and increase each boys’ potential to excel.
Each day three outstanding campers are selected by the counselor staff for their unique attitude or achievement over the previous day. The “Ranchhand”, “Cowboy” and “Shotgun” of the Day handle the flag raising and lowering ceremonies, the mealtime prayers and the delivery of mail by horseback at rest period.
A Hunter Safety rabbit hunt, extensive ranch trip and roundup, lengthy canoe trip, late night archery hunt, a Ghost Dancer ceremony, a Camp Craft survivalist adventure and an orienteering trip are all available rewards for term wide effort in activities.
On closing day, each camper receives awards and recognition for events and activities in which he took part. A traditional “Awards Plaque” is presented to each boy along with his patches and other awards. This framed plaque contains a photograph of himself and of his entire cabin group…a lasting memory of the La Junta Experience.
All of Camp La Junta’s traditional awards are designed as both summer incentive and lifetime memory.
The Black Eagles of Camp La Junta are a group of young men whose duties center around service to the camp and who perform a leadership role through their exemplary conduct in all areas. As members of this honor organization, the Black Eagles can be depended on to assist the La Junta staff whenever called upon.
Selection as a Black Eagle is an honor earned by character and leadership potential. It is not based on physical skill or academic prowess. All second year fourth graders and older are eligible.
To be tapped out in a torch lit, evening ceremony is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a camper at La Junta. Each summer potential members are carefully observed. After much consideration, those boys that have consistently shown honesty, cooperation, courtesy, and good sportsmanship are nominated.
Overall, to become a Black Eagle is to begin the path of learning the secrets of the Black Eagles and understanding the mysterious connection between service and leadership. Through many secret ceremonies and traditions campers learn and are reinforced important fellowship and citizenship principles.
The Rough Riders are a La Junta tradition that began in the summer of 1955. After an extensive observation and trial period the eight Camp La Junta Rough Riders are chosen near the end of each session. The La Junta Rough Riders are the top eight horsemen in camp: boys who can sit a saddle, care for their tack and their mount and remain in control over all types of rugged hill country terrain. Most Rough Riders are among the eldest campers each term, but are selected based entirely on horsemanship skills and all-around camper performance.
The Rough Riders participate in a two-day ranch trip and roundup. They cover many miles of ranch country on horseback, sleep under the stars, cook over an open fire, run fence lines, work livestock and exotic game and perhaps, most importantly take great strides towards becoming responsible young adults. The goal of the Rough Rider trip is to include elements of excitement worthy of such an award, but to also show the boys a glimpse of what life on the range is all about. The Rough Rider trip is fun and full of hard work. It’s an adventure of a lifetime.
When the Rough Riders return to camp after their two day adventure they are proven ranchhands, experienced riders and definitely young men who “would do to ride the river with”.
Although the primary focus of La Junta’s program and activities is individual success, team competition presented with a proper perspective is an effective means of helping each camper develop confidence, self-reliance, good sportsmanship and a realistic approach to winning and losing.
In the competition between the Running W Ranch and the Maltese Cross Ranch, emphasis is placed upon each member doing his best for the good of the team. Top priority is given to “pulling together” rather than stressing the individual competition.
In an age old tradition, on opening night of each session, all new campers draw at random from a hat, to determine which ranch they will join. Membership is lifelong. Careful preparation is made to assure that each ranch ends up divided equally within each age group. Most every team competition is divided first into age groups and is further divided according to ability, the result being realistic and healthy competition for each boy against boys of similar age, strength and capability.
An important part of the La Junta experience is the discovery that everyone can excel at something and that each person’s contribution to the team effort is significant and important. This is emphasized by the fact that most ranch points are contributed by individual accomplishment, rather than team events.
Ranch competition is an exciting part of the La Junta Experience. Because membership to a ranch is a lifetime membership, this competition provides not only thrilling moments but also builds camaraderie, commitment to a team and loyalty to La Junta.