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,
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!
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
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)
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.
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…..
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.
For those of you who weren’t able to join us at the Outdoor Theater on for Closing Day, here are the results from the Closing Awards Ceremony for First and Second Terms:
JUNE : Closing Day Awards
Black Eagle Chief: Jamie Patterson
All Around Cowboy: O’Neil Sitzer
1A Spirit Awards: Blake Johnson, Jack Stark and Ben Feinstein.
1B Spirit Awards: William Hext, Hudson Murray, Thompson Huthnance and Kai Kidd
Sportsmanship Award Winners: Ethridge Zackary, Tellef Ault, Walter Tyler, Cameron Buckhout and Henry Rose.
Aquatics Experts: Logan Abernathy, Aiden Blinn, Jamie Patterson, Henry Snow, Stuart Young, Alec Hovnatanian and Dillard Harvey
New Running W Bulldoggers: Asher Fineske, Sam Norris, Mac Flinn, Fielding Little, Wyatt Hall, John Lancaster and Christopher Campbell.
New Maltese Bulldoggers: Mark Philbin, Quinn Charlton, Curtis Gunn, Drew Stewart, Ross Huck, Steven Ridout and Braden Rhone.
War Canoe: Running W
War Kayak: Running W
Term: Running W
Saturday, August 4, 2012, Results from the Closing Ceremony:
Black Eagle Chief: Max Holsomback
All Around Cowboy: Spencer Pergande
2A Spirit Awards: Sam Bertolino, Cinco Bragg, James Crosnoe and Max Plum
2B Spirit Awards: Teague Booth, Cole Finney, Avery Clinkscale and T. Love
Sportsmanship Awards: Ben Holsomback, Campbell Hyde, Jack McKee, Roscoe Prince and Graham Walter
Aquatics Experts: Mather Austin, Will Brumley, Shaw Butler, Christopher Casey, Garrett Coleman, Reid Covin, Brodie Hyde, Baxter Jones, Spencer Pergande, Graham Walter and Gavin Watler.
Eight Year Campers: Nick Bogaev, Locke McGee and Tallon Sedlmeyer.
New Running W Bulldoggers: Sammy Silva, John Bass, Tripp Groth, Tinsley Jones, Philip Murrin, Philip Rowe and Sawnie McGee.
New Maltese Cross Bulldoggers: Matthew Polak, John Creveling, Christopher Lloyd, Dalton Nevins, Kyle Kurtz, Henry Sauer and Mark Dodson.
War Canoe: Maltese Cross
War Kayak: Running W
Term: Running W
As I sit in my office, trying to block out the noise of the gravel truck – gravel truck as in the one working on paving the road from the water slide to the office, removing the quaint pot holes that have become a drivers sport around here – I’m deep into shopping season at CLJ.
You didn’t realize we have a shopping season? It’s right after the holiday season and the camp party season and right before Spring. Some of you (moms?) are salivating that there may be malls, market and fitting rooms involved. But it’s far more exciting. It’s time to start all of our pre-summer shopping to insure delivery by camp. Shopping around here generally leads to programming, brainstorming and new ideas!
Shopping season is strategically set to follow camp party season, because we get to watch what photos and activities form the summer bring the most feedback and excitement. This year it was photos of Battlefield Houston and the SWAT pit. We need to shop to make those better! Maybe some camo in the future. The official start to shopping season is the annual camping “Campference” that bring camp leaders and suppliers together in one place to celebrate the industry, share ideas and un-officially get the summer started.
Cheryl usually begins shopping season with the store, care packages and father/son t-shirts. There are plenty of options and much to be done. Campference is where we find fleece blankets, ranch face paint and cool new colors for camper T-shirts.
But the real lies with Scott, Zach and I as we do the real shopping. On the list this year: a giant tee pee for the indian village, steamer for the kitchen, additional salad bar for the kitchen, new camera for campintouch, new video camera for highlite films, cooktop for the ACs, outdoor sink for the outdoor kitchen, online Map for the website, bar code scanners for the camp store, suggestion box for the field office, wheel of fortune for the honor cabins, trees for the field office, soccer nets, kickball fence, life size jenga, putt putt carpet, rock walls, sprinklers, underground sprinklers and a newer suburban. If that don’t sound fun, it’s time to check your pulse!
All is good at CLJ. We’re excited that the grass is growing and summer is right around the corner. Thanks to all who attended camp parties. We saw close to 300 kids from all around the state!
Life is Good. Camp is better. It’s time to start shopping for camp.
We wholeheartedly disagree that “the best part of the holidays is the end”. We do however love to get back in the office in January. That’s when the real fun begins. All of the fall and holiday season is about wrapping up and getting ready. January marks time to get things done!
We’ll be headed out later in the month for our annual Camp Parties. It’s a great chance for us to get out amongst our camp dudes and start winding up the excitement for the summer. For 2012 we have great slides and exciting videos to make 2012 another series of awesome camp parties. Call us for directions or a copy of the invitation.
AUSTIN: Wednesday, January 25, 7:00 pm at the Liljenwall’s
SAN ANTONIO: Tuesday, January 31, 7:00 pm at San Antonio Country Club
FORT WORTH: Wednesday, February 8, 7:00 pm at the Aragon’s
DALLAS: Thursday, February 9, 7:00 pm at the Philbin’s
BROWNSVILLE: Thursday, February 9, 7:00 pm at the Hainley’s
HOUSTON: Wednesday & Thursday, February 22 & 23, 7:00 pm at River Oaks CC
WACO: Thursday, March 1, 7:00 pm
January also begins staff recruiting season. All the preparation from the Fall comes together when we start getting applications from new and old alike. Piecing together a great summer staff is an exciting Spring adventure. We’ll be putting final touches on new Program Director paperwork to help get those guys more time in the cabins and better ways to track who they visit with. We’re even adding a “suggestion box” so kids can help us make the summer better, even after it starts. With Scott serving as the Texas camping association vice president we get to help line up the speakers for this Spring’s conference and therefore test drive some ideas for staff training week.
Very soon, we’ll start working out the final details for an online Health Form option. We’ll be so high tech. Looks like the basics are set and we just have to work out a few kinks! This should be the best summer yet for CampInTouch.
Outdoors, all the groundwork is done and it’s time to start building! The infirmary gets some enhancements this year – mainly a new and improved bathroom for “inmates”. We don’t want them to get too comfortable, but we’re due to replace the furniture and equipment in the ward room. We’re about to plant grass for our “Indian Village” – a new place to help take the young guys to exciting new Indian Lore challenges. The A.C.s loved the cooking we added in July and we have hopes to get an outdoor kitchen added to the office to expand their man-cooking. Look out bacon.
January is an exciting time to see all the pieces of the winter’s puzzle come together for another outstanding summer. We expect that 2012 will be one of those outstanding summers!
Life is Good. Camp is Better. Sometimes you just have to scrape off the frost.
Although it feels a little repetitious to declare that “it seems like just yesterday that camp ended”, it indeed seems like just yesterday that camp ended. All of the things we plan to do, plan to finish and plan to plan are just about to be needed. “Where did the fall go?” All of a sudden the holidays are upon us. Cold, rainy weather has set in on the Hill Country and all of our off season planning quickly becomes pre-season preparation!
We just had our annual staff brunch/lunch today. Even with such a small permanent staff and a cozy new office, it’s great to gather at the house for a couple hours of Cheryl’s cooking, laughter and gifts. While each year brings it’s own new successes, new challenges, new personalities, new friendships and new ideas, those are the things that make each year unique and memorable. The Swat Pit. The Cargo Net. Mario and Luigi. Thank goodness it’s almost time to do it again!
We wish you the very best this holiday season. Relax, enjoy, laugh and of course memorize your La Junta yearbook and DVD.
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy New Year.
Life is Good. Camp is Better….and better….and better.