Director’s Notes

August 5, 2010

Camp La JuntaThe most melancholy moments of the year always fall in August. We are sad to see the summer end but a bit relieved to have a few minutes of quiet family time. Our lives as camp folk are actually the most hectic at this time of the year. We are of course uniquely busy from April through Closing Day, but then we have to squeeze in a summer of transitions into a couple of weeks.

Our most exciting transition of the month was over the weekend. Almost as soon as closing ended (and even an hour or so before) we emptied and scrubbed 9 cabins in anticipation of our DreamKamp. DreamKamp is our non-profit program which hosts 100-150 Kerr County kids each year. They are nominated by their teachers for their strengths and leadership potential and attend an awesome Christian Leadership camp for a week, at absolutely no cost to them. Camp La Junta covers much of the cost, but we have partnered recently with the Kerrville Board of Realtors and Kerrville’s Young Men’s Business league to cover the rest. The kids get a chance at Riflery, Archery, High Ropes, Climbing Wall, Riding, Kayaking, Canoeing, Rope Swing, Water Slide and all sorts of games and team challenges. Our goal is to send over 100 middle schoolers back to town excited about the challenges of middle school and staying on a path to success. It’s a fast change over from 270 hard charging La Junta men, to 125 5th and 6th graders, boys and girls. It’s a great change of pace, and a first transition back into the local community after camp.

As soon as DreamKamp is over, we transition quickly into another turn around and host the local private high school’s football team. Rather than pure football, they want team building, fellowship and worship services to prepare them for the rigors of school and a long ball season. It’s great to share some of the La Junta philosophy with a bunch of sweaty high schoolers!

The next transition allows us to host a neighborhood wedding at the outdoor theater. Gowns, makeup and music. Sounds like skit night, but it’ll be a great time to watch a life journey begin under the majestic cypress trees and the beautiful river. Alot like the life journey’s of campers but with silk skirts and bow ties.

Finally we get to transition back into mom and day and squeeze in a little family vacation time between then and the first day of school….that’s a transition in itself.

If that weren’t enough, this year we’ll be transitioning into a new office. Our current digs are over 70 years old, patched, crooked and falling apart. We’ll be building a new office to accommodate the next 70 years and all the new technology that comes with it. We hope to do it seamlessly, with the phone and email answered every day. Cross your fingers.

Finally, we do get to sit back and reflect each August on the tradition, humor and value of the summer. After 29 years on the Guadalupe, I can still say it’s the best summer ever. A new idea here. A new challenge there. 270 laughing, squealing, crying, yelling, running, throwing, swimming campers. It couldn’t get any better. We’re already counting the days until we transition back into a camp next May.

Thanks again for sharing Camp La Junta 2010 with us. We had a blast and hope that your little guy (young man) did too.

Have a great school year.

Life is Good. Camp is Better.

Blake



Written by admin

The Beginning of Another School Year is Upon Us.

The Beginning of Another School Year is Upon Us.

Notes from the Director

August 25, 2017

The 2017 camping season is in the history books.  The windows are shut, the horses put out to pasture and the office staff is headed for a long winters nap.   We had 6 great sessions and 650 happy campers.    When our main camp summer was all completed here at Camp La Junta, and Katie and Cheryl were starting on the lost and found laundry, Scott, Dave, Colton and I turned our energies toward our annual DREAMKAMP.

Since 1997, the final week of the summer is always our DREAMKAMP.  It’s our week to give back to the community.  For our 21st year, we  hosted over a hundred and forty Kerr County kids for a free week of camp, absolutely no cost to them.  These outstanding kids were selected by their teachers for their attitude, enthusiasm and leadership potential.  We ran them through a week of Christian Leadership training.  We squeezed in as many activities as we could, surrounded by a morning Bible study by a local clergy and an evening campfire message by a local community leader!  We even had girls!  It’s a great way for us to end the summer and work on our community’s young leaders at the same time.

The end of the Summer is always an melancholy experience for us.  It’s nice to get a break from the hours, heat and high energy of the summer and it’s responsibilities.  But it’s also very quiet without all the rambunction, dining hall banter and non-stop boy energy.  Some of our favorite moments come in August when we get the occasional post camp updates.  Most everyone is geared up preparing for school, but we have a few hard core kiddoes and parents who keep us updated on their post camp adventures.  It’s always great to know that some of our guys continue to make their beds for a whole week after the summer ends.

Speaking of ending, thought you might like to see the CLJ Evening Prayer.  It goes across the PA every night of the summer, delivered by a different camper each time.  I know it’s been used for at least a decade and maybe even a few years more.  It’s a fitting way to wrap up the summer as well.

“The Bedtime Prayer”

Father, we thank you for this day,
We thank You for our friends and play.
We ask Your blessings overnight.
Please guide us safely til the light.

Teach us to always say what’s true,
Be willing in each task we do.
Help us be better every day,
and lead us in Thy Holy Way.

We pray whatever wrongs we’ve done,
You will forgive us every one.
Be near us when we wake again,
and Bless our Families, AMEN.

Have a great school year.  We can’t wait to get you all back for 2018!  If you’re new to La Junta, now’s the time to get registered for 2018.  While many terms and age groups are already wait listed, there will be cancellations in the Spring when summer and summer school plans start to take shape.  The sooner you are on the list, the better your chances of getting a spot!

Life is indeed Good.  Camp is still Better.  Blessings to you and yours.  Thanks,

Blake

Written by Blake Smith

Basketball and Frogs

Notes from the Director
June 20, 2016

Basketball and Frogs – Which one are you?

Maybe it was the proximity to the Summer Solstice.  Maybe it was the magic of a CLJ Sunday.  Maybe it was just happenstance.  But, last evening was just awesome.  Wish you could’ve been here.  (get your attention, yet?)

Of course, most Sunday’s around hear are pretty special.  There’s an Outdoor, continental, Picnic Breakfast, with of course, sugar cereal, yogurt, cinnamon rolls, etc, etc..  There’s a fun Sunday School, this week talking about Daniel in Lion’s Den and his commitment to do what he knew was right!  Free Time.  Field and Board Games.  Recognition and a seasonal Bob Story.  (go private Bob!)

At recognition the Four Week session began to climax for our Tophands.  Rough Rider Nominees, War Canoe Paddlers and War Kayakers were all announced!  There was tension, excitement and loads of celebration!

The real fun started later.  As an old fashioned attempt at fun, we broadcast a live radio feed of the fourth quarter of Game seven of the NBA finals.  Do you remember the Black and White photos of families huddled around the household radio listening to President Roosevelt, or Groucho Marx or the Cubbies out of Chicago?  We had that live.

Cabin Hilton was crowded around a camp radio, living and dying with missed shots and made.  (as were most cabins past the Wrangler Division). Team Alliances were quickly established (who rooted for those teams anyway, no Spurs, no Rockets, no Mavs).  The closer to the end the game got, the more the excitement climbed to fever pitch.  No one complained about a missing 60 inch plasma.  It was a group event. They were getting a new experience they didn’t expect.  When Golden State missed the final shot, you could hear cheers around camp, as I expect most everyone changed their allegiance to the Cavs!  Thank goodness we had no cars to roll over, because we had that kind of energy.  It was fun to watch!

Meanwhile, down at the other end of  the sidewalk, the little guys in Bungalow couldn’t have cared less.  Literally.  They had frogs.  Real frogs.  You say captive.  I say pet.  There was a whole box full.  (again, literally)  Named, and with histories (mine doesn’t like bright lights, mine doesn’t look hungry).  Bungalow had their own mini Bungalow world, CAMPA FROGA, complete with vegetation and pond.  (which kept leaking through the cardboard box).  When the tophands celebrated, the Bungaloids just kept baby (frog) sitting.  To each his own.  Awesome fun, no matter the game.

We’ve got less than two weeks left, for both First Term and 1B.  We’ll squeeze in as many new experiences (and frogs) as we can.  You should, too.

Life is Good.  Camp is Better.  Frog Camp may be even better yet!

Blake

Written by Blake Smith

Notes from the Director – July 25

Notes from the Director
July 25, 2015

There’s really no such thing as normal around here….at least not normal by real world standards.  Sure, we wake, we eat, we clean, we play, we eat again, we play some more.  It’s the in between goings on that we wish we could teach the real world to embrace.

The real world generally feels obligated to sit still at meals without the need for clapping, banging, chanting or squealing.  That’s normal for us.

The real world would be likely be shocked at strategically placed electronic or air driven Fart Generators.  That’s normal for us.  (and a highlight of many days)

The real world can get from point “a” to point “b” without a football, soccer ball, frisbee, nerf gun or stick.  That’s normal for us.  (sometimes simultaneously)

The real world only wears face paint to playoff ball games.  It is of course, normal to us.

The real world sees a damaged shuffleboard stick for what it was.  A shuffleboard stick.  It’s normal for us to begin a not so passive discussion as to wether said stick would make a better light saber, sword, axe or poker.  (all are of course necessary to get you between classes.)  In fact, I picked up a deceased shuffle board stick (official name?) after dinner the other night.  I stood in the red chairs (after swinging it to see what kind of sound it made) and counted how many of our young men would want it, want to touch it, want to hold it or want to know where I got it.  Let’s just say there were fewer who didn’t ask.  I had to take it to Kerrville for proper, permanent disposal, lest I find it being carried and weaponized between classes!

The real world sees a riding arena ceremony at dusk as hot, sweaty and dusty.  We see it as both a wonderful tradition and a time for pride.  Since Luther Graham took over Camp La Junta in 1955 there has been a rough rider presentation each session.  It has changed very little in 60 years.  The kids are different and some of the horses new (a few) but the ceremony remains traditional.  What I hope remains the same, is the sheer joy that the bulk of our kids experience as they watch.  (joy, envy, admiration, celebration)  My favorite moment last night came as we announced the final 8 rough riders.  I always stand up front. ( to make sure no frisbees, footballs or shuffle board sticks make it over the rail).   I’m right in the midst of the Wranglers.  You might remember that a week ago we had Big Buddy day.  They did.  From the first of the eight, there was genuine pride coming from the wranglers as I heard a rough rider announced and a wrangler proclaim “He’s My Big Buddy!”.  The real world has 13 year olds and 8 year olds most often as protaganists, occasonally just ignored.  We have big buddies and a day of memories.  That’s normal for us.

Have a great final week.  We’re bringing things to a fever pitch, so we can send you some tired, accomplished young men next weekend!

Life is Good.  Camp is Better.  They’re all my Big Buddy!

Blake

Written by Blake Smith

The Gift of the Magi

Notes from the Director

December 2011

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the variety of parties, events, shows and general get togethers that we get to attend.  With two boys in High School, you might guess that many of those functions center around their blossoming high school careers.

Christmas reminds us of the best in our friends and family.  For us, we get to see the best in our camp family as well.  I was very proud on Monday to be sitting at the high school blood drive (yes, I still have extra red blood) and swelled to see the first three students in line to donate were all three La Junta men – two recent DreamKamp staffers from August and one former camper.  Through the summer program, Black Eagles and special programs, giving to others is something we hope rubs off on our people.  It’s certainly likely that almost everyone at the school donated that day, but it was a proud papa moment none the less.  Not quite tears, but certainly a warm feeling while I was one pint low.

Last night, though, was the highlight of the season for me.  It was the first annual (always a presumptuous declaration) Our Lady of the Hills Christmas dinner theater.  We were to be treated to the school’s one act play performance, some holiday skits and tunes and of course, dinner.  Sometimes you attend more out of obligation than raging enthusiasm.  Honestly, that was me last night.  I’m so lucky fate dragged me there.

The one act play was great.  The kids memorable after all their hard work.  The skits and tunes started with an air guitar retrospective of Alvin and Chipmunks and a scene from Little Women (starring the football team) and after the laughter died down,  O.Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”.  Not something I expected.

You remember the story I’m sure.  (The play was a bit enhanced to have two angels trying to understand true love through the original gifts of the Magi at the manger. )  Impoverished Jim sells his family heirloom watch to have enough money to buy his wife a Christmas gift, hair combs for her prized head of hair.  Della sells her beautiful “Crystal Gayle” brown hair to raise enough money to buy her husband a chain for his heirloom watch.  Irony at its best.  Compassion exemplified.  Wisdom beyond their years.  Good thing the lights were down.  It’s possible that I moved a bit beyond warm feeling to goose bumps and sniffles.    I couldn’t help but think about my three La Junta men.  They could’ve stayed in class, cutting up and impressing women, but they chose a deeper meaning to life.  …. insert deep full chested sigh…

Amid the annual gifts of the Holiday season, Cheryl and I are always aware of what a gift it is to have landed at La Junta those 30 years ago and to raise our boys in such a fine community.  It is a gift to have your son as part of the La Junta family.  It is a gift to watch our La Junta men, large and small, old and new, share their gifts in the summer.

Blessings to you and yours this holiday season.

Life is Good.  Camp is Better.  O. Henry is more than a Candy Bar.

Blake

Written by Blake Smith

Notes from the Director – October 1

Notes from the Director

October 1, 2011

Although Cheryl and I are the youngest possible folks to have 30 years of Camp Experience (applause) we do have a senior in high school. And yes, it comes with many perks. Dirty uniforms and steady requests for late nights. Steadier requests to just miss a day here or there. Complaints about teachers who don’t understand homework gets in the way of the senior year. And yes, the big elephant in the room, what about college?

Those of you who beat us to that bench mark can attest what an exciting, challenging and frightening time it is. Cheryl’s baby is about to head off on his own, into a new world filled with new people, new ideas, new opportunities and new experiences. As parents, it’s a great and refreshing feeling to have a son with so many opportunities in front of him. As parents we worry way too much about those new challenges in front of him. What will the rest of the dorm be like? How will the professors value him as a person? What if he doesn’t like it? What if he picks a school too far away to visit? What new things will he try? What if he can’t handle it? What if we don’t have him prepared to handle it? So many challenges in front of him. Are we sending him off to college or camp.

Thank goodness he already went off to camp. Thank goodness he’s already experienced so many of the challenges of moving off to school.

I have to admit, it didn’t really dawn on us that the transition to college was a decade’s later revisit of summer camp. It took another ex-camper to point it out. We went and visited a neighbor who is a sophomore in college and let her give us the “grand tour”. It wasn’t until we headed through the gardens and surrounding brush (actually seaside vegetation) that I said, “Man, this dorm looks just like a big camp cabin”. She replied. “This whole place is just like camp. My RA is my counselor. My roommates and floormates are just like my cabinmates. Going off to class and volleyball games and tennis practice is just like camp and watching war canoe. Freshman orientation was just like the first three days of camp.”

We know how blessed we are to be a part of the camp life. It took a veteran camper to remind us what a blessing it has been for our own kids.

Have a great school year. Hopefully you too will visit a college campus or two this fall!

Life is good. Camp is better. College will probably be a close second.

Blake

Written by Blake Smith

Camp One of the Safest Places Around

Notes from the Director

March 7, 2011

During the snowy weather of February, it’s too cold to clean cabins and mow grass, so it’s always the time that the national and local camping associations.  Scott and Kile get to learn about new games, Lori and Cheryl get to shop for camp store goodies and I get to see all the current updates coming out of the legislature in Austin and out of the insurance industry nationwide.   I’m guessing that these safety standards and revised regulations are as important to you as parents that all those fun and games!

One of the most interesting things I saw at the state convention in Kerrville was a study released this winter by the American Camping Association on safety, injuries and illness at summer camp.  They gathered data over the past 5 years and really looked hard at what impacted camp from an injury and illness standpoint.  It was interesting in that someone finally gathered some real world statistics from our camp world, and the camp world really stacks up well!

We take great pride in setting high standards for safety and working with the staff to live up to them.  Our medical staff each summer work steadily to keep the stomach bugs, sore throats and swimmer’s ears to a minimum.  Hopefully as a parent it’s reassuring to know that there is industry-wide work going on to help us make it even safer.

As you’d guess, you can’t have 250 boys running around outdoors without a few bumps and bruises, but it was reassuring to see the confirmation that it is boys being boys more so than boys being campers who get injured.  The numbers below, bear it out.  29% of all camp injuries happen walking, standing, cleaning, sitting and sleeping.  Only 21% playing sports and games!

Occurrence of Injuries by Activity:

Playing a sport/game 21%
Other non-sport activity 14%
Sedentary (sleeping, sitting)10%
Walking 10%
Routine action (hygiene, standing, etc.) 9%
Water-related (non-swimming) 9%
Running/jogging 8%
Horse-related 4%
Prohibited activity/horseplay 4%

Another thing the study did was to quantify camp safety versus time.  They added “Camper Hours” compared to routine bumps and bruises and contrasted that with “Football Hours” and “Soccer Hours”.   Camp wins hands down.   And more curiously, boys sports are safer than girls sports.  Another reason we don’t do girl stuff around here!

In terms of overall risk of injury, camp is as safe or safer than many activities that parents choose for their children.  Just a curiosity.
Youth Activity Injury Rates** (sports injury rates come from the CDC)

Resident Camp 0.50 injuries per 1000 hours.
Day Camp 0.44
Boys’ Football 4.09
Boys’ Wrestling 2.35
Girls’ Soccer 2.31
Boys’ Soccer 1.98
Girls’ Basketball 1.80
Boys’ Basketball 1.58
Girls’ Volleyball 1.24
Girls’ Softball 1.15
Boys’ Baseball 1.03
In summary, the study reinforces what we’ve always known at camp.  Standards, policies and supervision go a long way to making each summer great by keeping each camper safe.

A fringe benefit of the study provides some good parent pointers to help make the summer a little safer.

Parent Recommendations per the study:

A Healthy Camp Starts at Home!  A healthy camp really does start at home. Here are some things you can do to help assure your child has a healthy summer camp experience.

1. When children show signs of illness, keep them home, come a day or two late. This greatly reduces the spread of illness at camp.

2. Teach your child to sneeze in his sleeve, and to wash his hands often at camp.

3. Closed-toed shoes are a requirement for activities such as sports and hiking. This will help avoid slips, trips, and falls, which could cause injuries. Stress to your child the importance of wearing closed-toed shoes to prevent a toe, foot, and/or ankle injury.

4. Fatigue often plays a part in injuries. If children are going to resident camp, explain that camp is not like a sleepover. Explain to your child that he should try to go to sleep on time!

5. Don’t forget to send sunscreen, and instruct your child how to use sunscreen.

6. Please send a reusable water bottle. Your child can refill it frequently during their camp stay. Staying hydrated is very important in the summer.

Although Spring Break is around the corner and we all seem to be running from Tennis to Soccer to Track and back again, but if you have time, you can read the report in it’s entirety (good luck with that).

http://www.acacamps.org/sites/default/files/images/education/Healthy%20Camp%20Study%20Impact%20Report%20%28FINAL%29%28r%29.pdf

Have a great Spring Break.  Be safe.

Life is Good.  Camp is Better.

Blake

Written by Blake Smith

Time Keeps Moving

Notes from the Director

January 31, 2001

A new decade is upon us, and no matter how hard we cling to history, time moves on and our present and future are staring us in the face.  That’s a great way to sum up our offseason each year.  The summer of 2010 was a great one.  On the most part, the weather cooperated (sorry about the one drive through closing), the staff were exceptional and the program flowed well.  We had tons of campers register to return and loads of our great staff drove off promising to be part of the excitement again in 2011.  What a great year!  But 2010 is over.  No matter how great the previous year, we owe it to next year to make it even better!

In camping as an industry, life moves on as well.  Earlier in the month, I had the privilege of attending the funeral of Si Ragsdale, the owner of Camp Stewart.  Si had been involved with camping since his first summer as a camper in 1935.  He’d been in Texas camping almost as long as there had been Texas camping.  His service was a testament to 75 years of shining lights on the lives of youth and young adults.  There were nearly 500 folks in attendance, from 10 to 90 years old.  All with a story of what Camp had meant to them.  I had saved this article below about the long term benefits of camp, but it was great to see first hand at Si’s memorial, the personal benefits of how camp impacted generations of campers.

Taken from the American Camping Association and USA Today Newspaper:

Camp has become a part of the fabric of America — conjuring special memories of hiking, swimming, friendships, and adventure for generations. When children go to camp, they’ll likely come home gushing about the lifelong friends they’ve made, andthe exciting adventures they had. What they probably won’t tell you about are the life lessons camp has given them — those skills that, if nurtured at home after camp, translate into a lasting self-confidence, an awareness of the importance of kindness,
and a greater comfort in voicing their opinions.

For 150 years, camp has been changing lives — allowing all children to feel  successful, especially those who may struggle with traditional educational settings. Camp is full of fun and excitement, but it is so much more — developing children who are better equipped to lead in the twenty-first century with skills such as  independence, empathy, the ability to work as part of a team, and a broader worldview.

• Camp is a safe and nurturing environment that enhances social skills.  Camp is for everyone, so children and youth have the opportunity to meet and interact with peers
from outside their school environment.

• Camp supplements traditional education.  Camps use intentional programming to create
a balance of experiential learning opportunities that are physical, emotional, and social.

• Camp provides experiences that promote selfconfidence and future academic growth. American Camp Association® (ACA) independent research shows that parents and camp staff, as well as the campers themselves, report significant growth in several areas, including leadership, independence, social comfort, and values and decisions.

• Camp encourages a respect and love of nature.  Children are able to learn about the natural world.  Camp also gives them a chance to “unplug.”  More and more experts
are advocating the value of time spent in nature for children — and camp is a perfect place to do that.

• Camp provides the opportunity to stay physically active. Camp is the ultimate outdoor experience with programs that offer physical activities and sports that enhance health and teach self-confidence.

Camp is a natural extension of the classroom.  Research indicates that byparticipating in strategically planned, structured summer experiences, children
reduce summer learning loss. Camp challenges children, keeps them engaged, develops creativity and their talents, and expands their horizons.

Summer’s creeping up on us.  Camper  Forms will be going out soon and it will be time for 600 more young men to enjoy camp, La Junta style.

See you this summer.

Life is Good.  Camp is Better  (and better, and better each summer)

Blake

Written by Blake Smith

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Then Some

December 17, 2010

clj2011The longer I get to be at Camp, the more often I appreciate what happens on our stretch of the river. It’s probably not the time to write a summer observation entry, but I’ve been thinking…

The other weekend I had a chance to go to the NCAA Division III national soccer finals in San Antonio. I love a well played game, and this didn’t disappoint. Messiah College was the two time defending nation champion and played as such that day. However, Lynchburg College, their competition was up to the challenge and spent most of the game in control. In fact Lynchburg took a 1-0 lead early in the second half. Sports fans know that just makes the game that much more exciting. Messiah, true to championship form, scored the tying goal with less than four minutes left, on what some (Lynchburg Fans) would call a questionable play. Lynchburg had dominated nearly the whole game, and now we were headed to 20 minutes of sudden victory overtime.

Sudden victory started much as the rest of the game, with Lynchburg pressuring to score. In the second minute of overtime, Messiah had a break away and scored the winning goal! Fast and furious. Totally unexpected after the previous 90 minutes. Messiah celebrated. Lynchburg was shocked, deflated and even some tears.

Two days later as fate would have it, my son Josh had high school soccer game in San Marcos. It was pretty even, well played, tied at one after regulation and headed to 20 minutes of sudden victory overtime. After 19 minutes of overtime, San Marcos scored on a diving header into the corner. A true Sportscenter moment. Our guys were stunned, a bit deflated but as much at the shot as they were at the loss. What a difference playing for a national title makes….but should it?

Isn’t that a microcosm of one of the challenges our kids deal with so much as they grow up. At the finals, both teams were in the top two in the nation. Both had climbed to the top with hard work and months of success. It’s a shame that one had to feel like a “loser”. Who ever said their could only be one winner? Thousands of other players didn’t even make it to the playoffs. On the scoreboard, only one winner, but in life wouldn’t it be great if more kids were able to walk off the field feeling like they didn’t win but they’d done their best, were proud and ready for the next challenge. We still only have one winner, but maybe we don’t have to have so many losers.

That’s always been one of our goals at Camp. By design, we set numerous goals and challenges for our boys. From Indian Lore to Riflery. From Black Eagles to Rough Rider. From Ranch Games to the Ranch Term. We know that life, like a soccer tournament, is full of more defeats that it is victories. But hopefully we get our perspective across to our guys, that striving for success and reach for excellence are as important to the future as getting all of those victories. Everyone who improves is a winner, not just the one at the top of the scoreboard. Better grades, better health, better friendships and better skills are all byproducts of goal setting and defeat.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Have a blessed season. Enjoy the house full of mayhem!

Blake

Written by admin

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

November 23, 2010

clj2011The Thanksgiving Holiday is always one of my favorite times of the year. Folks might guess it’s because of football games, the start of Christmas shopping or the quickly approaching Skiing season. To me, it is all these things, but it’s also the time of year that all of our hard work in the fall starts to reach you camp families, signifying that another camp year is right around the corner.

Since the summer of 2010 ended, we have been hard at work getting ready for 2011. This month, much of what we’ve been up to is coming to a climax. Scott has got the Video Yearbook off to the production house so as to be ready for delivery before Christmas. The print yearbook is off at the printers, ready as well, to be sent to everyone at the start of the Christmas holidays.

We’ve been busy working with a design firm to get our website updated and current. We’ve had a great presence on the web since it’s inception, but this summer we noticed we were lagging behind in photo, video, social networking and graphic technology. All that will be solved soon. Our new look website is scheduled to go live on January 1. We’ve also completed a study to help us best use our CampInTouch services so that we get everyone the most up to date camper details as efficiently as possible. Last summer we started the switch to paperless and CampInTouch is helping us get even better at it this Spring. We actually had to put together a calendar to help us remember when to update our numerous BLOGS this Spring. Don’t worry, that won’t happen every time we run to the store or see a new video, we’ll do it every week or two and you’ll find all the links on either CampInTouch or our new La Junta website.

Our new office is coming along on schedule. We tried to save some of the varmits we pulled out of the demolition, but even Wrangler Dave to too scared to mess with them. We’ll finally end up in an office that puts us all on the web, networked together and ready for the newest technology. We’ll have some more apartments to accomodate our growing staff and a meeting room for rainy day staff meetings and maybe even the Black Eagles and Counselors in Training.

I went to a Hunt Middle School Basketball game last night. Some of you might not appreciate the pace or the frantic nature of 7th and 8th grade ball, but in Hunt we celebrate it. (We don’t have much else.) After watching the end of the girls 7th grade B game, I can’t wait for summer. The game was evenly matched, although Hunt had only dressed 5 girls. It went back and forth, from goal to goal. Toward the end of the second overtime, one of the girls stepped to free throw line for 2 shots. She missed the first. Nervously dribbled the ball, banked it off the backboard and made the second one. Half the crowd went wild. It turned out to be the game winner. Both sets of fans were spent. Both benches were exhausted. Everyone had that certain sense of accomplishment that comes with being in the game, doing your best, having a shot, making some, missing some, but knowing your effort meant something. The girls did themselves proud. The game ended 5-4. You don’t have to be LeBron to have fun. What a great ball game!

Scott, Kile and I have already started work on counselor recruiting, summer programs and staff training. We’re looking forward to see how many places we can make the La Junta experience even better. The kids will be the ones who see most of the changes, but we’re also working on ideas for the video, news and photo links in your CampInTouch account. We’ve had them for years, but want to take them to a new, improved place next summer.

We can’t wait for the new year to arrive.

We are thankful that you are part of the La Junta family. We know that we wouldn’t have the summer fun and personal success stories each year, without your trust and support. Have a wonderful holiday weekend. Good luck with the end of the school semester.

Live is Good. Camp is Better.

Blake



Written by admin

Director’s Notes

Director’s Notes

August 5, 2010

Camp La JuntaThe most melancholy moments of the year always fall in August. We are sad to see the summer end but a bit relieved to have a few minutes of quiet family time. Our lives as camp folk are actually the most hectic at this time of the year. We are of course uniquely busy from April through Closing Day, but then we have to squeeze in a summer of transitions into a couple of weeks.

Our most exciting transition of the month was over the weekend. Almost as soon as closing ended (and even an hour or so before) we emptied and scrubbed 9 cabins in anticipation of our DreamKamp. DreamKamp is our non-profit program which hosts 100-150 Kerr County kids each year. They are nominated by their teachers for their strengths and leadership potential and attend an awesome Christian Leadership camp for a week, at absolutely no cost to them. Camp La Junta covers much of the cost, but we have partnered recently with the Kerrville Board of Realtors and Kerrville’s Young Men’s Business league to cover the rest. The kids get a chance at Riflery, Archery, High Ropes, Climbing Wall, Riding, Kayaking, Canoeing, Rope Swing, Water Slide and all sorts of games and team challenges. Our goal is to send over 100 middle schoolers back to town excited about the challenges of middle school and staying on a path to success. It’s a fast change over from 270 hard charging La Junta men, to 125 5th and 6th graders, boys and girls. It’s a great change of pace, and a first transition back into the local community after camp.

As soon as DreamKamp is over, we transition quickly into another turn around and host the local private high school’s football team. Rather than pure football, they want team building, fellowship and worship services to prepare them for the rigors of school and a long ball season. It’s great to share some of the La Junta philosophy with a bunch of sweaty high schoolers!

The next transition allows us to host a neighborhood wedding at the outdoor theater. Gowns, makeup and music. Sounds like skit night, but it’ll be a great time to watch a life journey begin under the majestic cypress trees and the beautiful river. Alot like the life journey’s of campers but with silk skirts and bow ties.

Finally we get to transition back into mom and day and squeeze in a little family vacation time between then and the first day of school….that’s a transition in itself.

If that weren’t enough, this year we’ll be transitioning into a new office. Our current digs are over 70 years old, patched, crooked and falling apart. We’ll be building a new office to accommodate the next 70 years and all the new technology that comes with it. We hope to do it seamlessly, with the phone and email answered every day. Cross your fingers.

Finally, we do get to sit back and reflect each August on the tradition, humor and value of the summer. After 29 years on the Guadalupe, I can still say it’s the best summer ever. A new idea here. A new challenge there. 270 laughing, squealing, crying, yelling, running, throwing, swimming campers. It couldn’t get any better. We’re already counting the days until we transition back into a camp next May.

Thanks again for sharing Camp La Junta 2010 with us. We had a blast and hope that your little guy (young man) did too.

Have a great school year.

Life is Good. Camp is Better.

Blake



Written by admin

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