Spring, the build up for Summer!

Notes from the Director, January 25, 2016

Of course we’re biased.  We are an 89 year old Summer Camp.  What else could the other 9 months be about than proper preparation for Summer!

If you’re a camp veteran, then you know that when yearbooks and videos arrive, and camp parties are right around the corner, so too is camp.  Yes, it’s almost half a year away, but who can help it if your mind starts thinking about activity choices and schedules, cool hats for ranch competition and which buddies will be your cabin.  That’s us.  We had a quiet Fall to plot and scheme improvements and program ideas.  Thankfully it’s finally time to start the bidding and get things and people in place!

Scott is fully ramped up with the counselor hiring process.  Contracts are beginning to go out.  Interviews are consuming our office time.  Our new systems for gathering and tracking staff papers are being tested!  Yahoo.

Cheryl and Cindy are putting CampMinder and CampInTouch through the review process to make sure all is ready to be activated, utilized and tracked.  You’ll start getting summer planning tips soon, as well as paperwork requirements and policy updates.

I’ve got a cool stack of dream-list items on my desk.  You know “Dream-List”.  The exciting challenge is to see what we end up with.  We’ve found T-Shirt Cannons, Wireless Video Projectors, Indoor Tailgate games, Red, White and Blue Kayaks, Indoor Riflery and other cool stuff.  Even with a jam packed program I bet we can find places to add a few new ideas.

Most importantly, we’ve been keeping tabs on kids and the social development of great ones.  We’re so saddened by the reports we continue to hear of bullies and social media misused.  We’re working hard this Spring to incorporate much of what we’ve learned into new staff training modules, cabin meetings and all camp campfires.  It’s an ever changing world, and we feel it’s important to us to evolve, keep up, and hopefully help get things better.  In reent years, we’ve been building on a theme of “Building young men of Character” and are excited about continuing to evolve the ranch and black eagle aspects of camp to send home confident, capable, empathetic, school leaders and sportsmen.  We’re gonna move some of our historic behind the scenes notions into the forefront of our daily programming.

We can’t wait until summer.  Actually we have to wait.  Darn calendar.  We hope you’re as excited about June and July as we are!

Life is Good.  Camp is Better.  (and we think, getting better all the time).

Blake

CLJ Offseason News
December 1, 2015

It’s officially the holiday season now that Cheryl, Katie and Cindy have put up the Christmas Lights at the camp entrance.  Cindy got her first taste of how cold it always is on the Monday after Thanksgiving and Cheryl and Katie were reminded just how much cedar pollen we store away with the garland!  (Scott, Dave and I are of course too busy indoors manning the phones).

December is always our final respite before the new year and the newest sets of Camp forms and programming updates.  Most of you will never notice a change, but we often impress ourselves!  This fall we’ve met with pharmacists and programmers to see how we might best make the process of summer medications easier to plan for and easier to track!  CampInTouch of course has their tweaks each year to help us with video and photos in the summer.  We’re hoping this summer to join into the online, on demand, video craze.  DVDs seem to be the newest VCR and we’re looking at some awesome ways to replace that technology.  We’re looking at some awesome new toys!  There are always new games, new wireless technologies, new t-shirt cannons and even low tech Bocci Balls.  It’s almost time to stop our research and start our set up!

If you haven’t made plans yet for the summer of 2016, now’s the time.  Most terms and many age groups are already full, but Cindy will do here best to find you a spot!  If you’ve made CLJ plans, get ready for the rush of paperwork when the new year arrives!  It happens fast.  If you can’t wait for summer, sign up for a Father/Son Weekend.  We’re taking those applications now!

Have a great holiday season.

Life is Good.  Camp is Better.  The next session is always right around the corner.

Blake

Another Season of Father/Son Weekends is Wrapping Up

It’s on to Summer Camp

 

It’s almost May and no, we’re not getting ready for camp, we’re getting ready for Father/Son weekend number 3.  It’s hard to realize, but this is our 24th Spring to host father and son weekends.  We had no idea back in 1994 that not only would Dad’s tolerate a weekend without the conveniences of home, that they would crave the excitement of a two days alone with their littlest buddy, shooting, riding and swimming.  We’ve watched the weekends go from Basketball to SWAT and 9 square.  From canoeing to kayaking.  From rapids to rope swing.  From 20 dads at a time to 65 dads at a time.

 

In nearly 25 years and over 70 weekends, we continue to see  not only the joy of getting to do camp but the confidence of new guys as they determine that this is their place.  When they return in the summer, they know some staff.  They know the flow.  And they know the water slide.  It’s been a great journey.

 

As we prepare to wrap up our final Father/Son of the Spring, it’s time to start putting final touches on the program.  The staff are pretty much lined up, but now they have to be trained.  The menu is set, but the orders need to be made.  The program is outlined, but now the supplies need to arrive.  Your guys are ready to go, we just need paperwork and foot lockers!

Have a great end to the school year.  We are getting more excited by the day for your little guys to become our little guys!

Life if Good.  Camp is Better.

Blake

Check Out our New Online Camp La Junta Tatlers

A printed, tradition dating back to the earliest Summers, Camp La Junta has begun to post Tatlers on the website every other Month during the offseason.  Click on the link below to begin enjoying CLJ photos, news and even competitions for Ranch Points.

 

http://www.lajunta.com/camp-news/the-tatler/

 

2014 Has Ended and 2015 Is On Its Way

 

Notes from the Director

August 25, 2014

The 2014 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 over 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 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 18th year, we  hosted over a hundred 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 run them through a week of Christian Leadership training.  We squeeze in as many activities as we can, surrounded by a morning Bible study by a local clergy and an evening campfire message by a local community leader!  We even have girls!  It’s a great way for us to end the summer and work on our community’s young leaders at the same time.

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 2015!  If you’re new to La Junta, now’s the time to get registered for 2015.  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

87 Years Strong and Counting Down
February Weekly News 

If it weren’t for this excellent cold weather we’d have mosquitos like the rest of the country!  Plus, it’s the perfect time for us to get ready for the summer.  Since it’s way too cold to go outside and hit the SWAT Pit, we’re left working out details of the summer.  Of course, Lori’s details rarely change, as she’s busy from now until camp with the processing of paperwork (electronic paperwork).  The rest of us get to have all the real fun.

Just this morning we were brainstorming about whether or not it would be possible to turn the new Archery Shed into a tower that could launch a giant swing, host a skeet shoot and even serve to propel water balloons into the Soccer Field!  It’s not rocket science (unless we decided to launch rockets from the top of the tower and see who’s went highest or stayed in the air the longest) but it keeps us striving for new ideas.

With the onset of February comes the time we start putting details to all the rough ideas of winter planning.  The cancellation deadline has passed so we know who we’re expecting and can start looking at things like evening program, Advanced Camper projects and CIT leadership topics.

We’re working on ideas to beef up security at the gates, ideas to expand the daily newsletters in CampInTouch, add a “Hot” Bar to the food service program and of course, revamp our counselor pay scale and internship program to improve our already excellent summer staff!

We also are finding time to watch the Olympics.  Except for the figure skating, it should remind you of Summer Camp.  Loads of racing, slding, shooting and most important, PRIDE.  I love the behind the scenes videos that show the dedication and commitment needed to by an Olympian.  Sometimes it’s only camp Riflery or Canoeing, but we see the same determination to pick up a Promarksman Patch or to make the Tennis Tournament and the same HUGE smiles when we have winners!

If you’re looking for a great summer place, there are a few spaces remaining in various ages and sessions.  We’d love to have you.

Enjoy the Month.  Stay warm.  Root against the Mosquitos!  Life is Good.  Camp is Better, even over ice!

Happy Earth Day from CLJ

Camp News – April 22, 2013

Among the fringe benefits of summer camping, is the fact that during a two or four week session, we get to do some things to educate our boys, that go beyond basketball and riflery.  This summer we are excited that our Trash Removal Contractor will be offering recycle bins.  We have always tried to teach our fellows throughout their camp activities and camp outs that we should be good stewards of our planet, and this year we get to make a direct impact.

We’ll have some recycle bins in the dining hall which will let us take care of plastic milk jugs and hot dog cookout soda cans.   We’ll be able to recycle cardboard so there’ll be a new place to bring boxes after opening and package time.

We’re delighted that we will be making young leaders and even more happy that we can be eco-friendly now, in an obvious way!

Have a great Earth Day.

Camp La Junta

Happy Spring Break

Notes from the Director – 3/11/2013

I’m not sure when it started, but someone figured out that the Spring semester could not possibly be successful without a week set aside for Snow Skiing, Surfing, Disney Hopping or just chllin’ without the constant pressure of homework.  Seems that it is equally important to 2nd graders and college freshman.  They should’ve asked us.  It’s time to make ready for better things to come.

Camp La Junta has been providing the same rejuvenation in the Summer months for almost 86 years now.  If you’ve come to a slide show, you’ve heard us make the annual reminder that camp is a great respite from Girls (and all the social pressures that come along with having them around), Grades (and all the academic pressures that come along with making them) and Team Sports (and all the physical expectations that come along with getting better at them).  Camp is a great time to work on all the skills that round out those three, and stick with you in the future.  Self-reliance.  Team Building.  Adaptation.  Independence.  Experimentation.  Relaxation.  Swimming.  Riding.  We’ll get you ready to tackle the important challenges of life, still in front of you.

This year, make sure you look at Spring Break for what it really is.  Practice for summer camp.  Have some fun.  Do something different.  Get ready to go back to school.  Get ready for another awesome summer.

Have a great Spring Break.  See you this summer.  (and don’t forget to set your clock forward)

Blake

 

New Beginnings and Old Traditions.
Notes from the Director
January 14, 2013

We at Camp La Junta are very relieved that the Mayans were wrong.  We had a great Christmas and are excited to start 2013.  January starts the first busy season for us.  It’s time to pin down return counselor plans and replace all the openings they leave behind.  It’s time to start the summer’s important camper paperwork.  It’s time to place the camp store orders from all the ideas gleaned throughout the fall.  And it’s time to put back together all the construction that was begun after camp.

I titled this entry new beginning and old traditions, because that is exactly what gives us excitement each Spring.  With 86 years of successful programming under Camp La Junta’s belt, there is no reason to scrap things and start over, but it’s fun each Spring to look at innovations, new products and new approaches to see what old traditions can get better with time.  This is the time of year that we meet weekly to see what those innovations might be, and how we might best incorporate them.

For example, we are adding a new office/dining area for our kitchen staff complete with internet access so that they can better track menu, purchasing, adapting and scheduling.  The electronic age is taking hold of many non-electronic venues.  Electronic improvements in the “back office” will make all of our staffing, camper communications and camp store even more effective in 2013.

We will be starting soon on new, custom ranch meeting places.  Not to replace the important initiation sites, but to give each ranch a traditional spot of it’s own on the main grounds to better and more efficiently get the guys ready for Sunday afternoon events and evening program.  Maybe start some new traditions!

We’re moving the workshop (or at least the small parts of the work shop) to make simple patches and repairs quicker to do.  It can be much more efficient to store light bulbs and plumbing supplies right in the middle of camp.  That means we will be moving the Mountain Bike shed, Adventure Shed and Camp Crafts shed to get into main camp as well, making them more accessible!

We value the 86 year old traditions at Camp, but always want to grow and improve with the next summer!

This year we add a new beginning to the list.  Zach Pierson was with us last year as an intern, did some school work this past fall and will be joining us this Spring as a part time program assistant.  He’ll be working to finish up his degree two days a week and working to help us put together a great summer during the rest of the week.

As the Spring moves along, you can expect Camper Parties in late January and February, Camper forms in March, Father/Son weekends in April, Camper activity cards in May and the start of summer number 86 in June!  Have a great one.

Happy Holidays from CLJ

Another year, more to be thankful for.

Camp La Junta 2013

We’ve had a great quiet season so far here at camp.  We’ve painted almost every bed we have, patched the summer’s screen damage and begun to touch up the paint in all the cabins.  It’s only about 7 months until we bang it all up again!

As the holidays creep up, we’re getting more and more excited about a La Junta wedding over Turkey Day.  You may remember long time Program Director Brett Griffin.  He’s marrying Kate Cromwell in Austin that weekend.  They first met at CLJ when both were counselors many years ago.  Many of the guests as well as the wedding party will be La Junters.  We can’t wait to see them all.  Camp has always been about forging relationships and how those relationships circle around at random points in your future.  My son has run into many camp buddies in his freshman year at UT, and Brett and Kate connected through camp contacts in Houston.  Those are the bonus relationships you get at camp.

I want to share part of an email we received last month.  It just goes to show you that camp keeps going, and going, and going…..

Dear All,

I had a interesting thing happen today and I wanted to share it with you all.

Upon leaving the doctor’s office, we headed past the a small lamp shop where she had taken one of Mom’s old lamps to be repaired.  She said I would enjoy the lamp shop because the woman that owned the shop looks a lot like Mom and has a lot of similar sentiments toward beautiful objects and antiques.  “We should go by and see if it is ready”. So I agreed as we headed toward midtown.  When we arrived, I immediately saw “Mom” in a petite, silver haired woman in her late sixties who loved her little shop and spoke fondly of the “special finds” inside it. After walking around for a few minutes I saw a picture on the floor leaning against the wall. I had to do a double take because it looked like me in the photograph. A photograph I was certain sat in a box back at my house on Thomas Springs Rd.  How could it be here inside a lamp shop in on 35th St.? A photo that had been taken over 40 years ago when I attended Camp La Junta. I leaned in closer, picked it up and it felt so familiar, the kid was even wearing my Camp La junta tee shirt ………… but it was not me. 

I explained my connection with the picture to Mrs. Brady and asked her where she got the picture. She told me the picture was found inside a box of love letters she had purchased at an estate sale. (like I said, she was a lot like Mom) I asked her if she knew who the young boy was. She said “no” but she thought the letters in the same box were written by a doctor who lived in Houston.   She then picked the picture up and handed it to me saying she wanted me to have it. I hesitated, but she insisted I take it, saying she only kept it because of her inability to just throw things away.  We visited a while longer as I continued to see more of “Mom” in her the longer we talked. Finally we loaded Mom’s restored lamp and the newly acquired photograph into the car and headed home. I kept thinking how familiar the kid in that photo looked.   The first thing I did when I got home was to look for the Camp La Junta photograph of me that I thought I was seeing in the lamp shop. After going through several boxes finding everything but, I remembered the Memory Box that Mom had given me years ago.   I found the box, opened it up and found the photo inside.  It was just as I remembered it.   I turned my picture over and saw on the back of my Camp La Junta photo there was a ID tag that had my name on it.

I realized that if there was a similar tag on the back of the photo given to me, I could learn the identity of the kid in the photo.  I began to peel the paper off the back of the picture frame. I gently slid the photo from its frame of 40 plus years.   There I found a tag identical to the tag on the back of my camp photo and discovered his name.   His name was JW. Again, going back to my Memory Box, Mom had included my Camp La Junta yearbook and I was reminded that in 1971 I had attended Camp La Junta during the second term and lived in Cabin 11.   I then found JW’s name in the index of the yearbook and realized that not only did he attend Camp La Junta the same year, but he was there the second term and lived in the cabin next to me in cabin 12 !!!!!!! 

I was reminded that life is a series of connections. Sometimes we are aware of them being around us, sometimes not. In some sort of unexplainable way, I was reconnected today with my Mom through a silver haired lady in a lamp shop when she handed me a photograph saying, “I want you to have this” …………….  WW

 

Life is indeed a series of connections.   Camp is part of the journey that helps to expand those connections across the state and the entire country.  Whether you are looking for groomsmen, college roommates, or just someone to hang out with during freetime, Camp is your place.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.  Stay home during Black Friday and email some of your old connections!

 

Life is Good.  Camp is Better.

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