In addition to our daily activities, extensive Awards Patch system and unique evening program, La Junta boasts many traditions that add to the excitement and give extra opportunities for success. At La Junta, much effort is put into providing an attainable goal for each boy in some aspect of his camping experience. Although not every goal will be reached, so much will be learned in its pursuit, and the accomplishments 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 for their positive attitude, general leadership qualities or personal achievements over the previous day. The “Ranchhand”, “Cowboy” and “Shotgun” of the Day (chosen by age division) handle the flag raising and lowering ceremonies, the mealtime prayers and the delivery of mail by horseback at rest period. These are daily camp honors selected by the staff, and important leadership roles to all of camp.
A Hunter Safety rabbit hunt, lengthy canoe trip, late night archery hunt, Ghost Dancer ceremony, Camp Craft survivalist adventure, Mountain Bike trip and SCUBA Night Dive are among the many other rewards for term-long effort in some activities. Participants are hand-selected for their skills and outstanding attitudes.
On Closing Day – our final day, with parent attendance – campers receive additional awards and recognition. A traditional “Awards Plaque” is presented to each boy, along with activity patches and other awards he’s earned. This framed plaque contains a photograph of himself and of his entire cabin group. The patches are given to add to his Awards Board as an ongoing reminder through his camping years of goals and achievements. Both are lasting memories of the La Junta Experience.
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 and serve as mentors to fellow campers. Through many unique ceremonies and traditions, these campers learn important fellowship and citizenship principles.
The Rough Riders are a La Junta tradition that began in the summer of 1955. The La Junta Rough Riders are the top eight horsemen in camp and participate in a two-day ranch trip. They cover many miles of ranch country on horseback, sleep under the stars, cook over an open fire, run fence lines, work livestock or exotic game and perhaps, most importantly, take great strides towards becoming responsible young adults, with true grit. 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, but great reward. It’s an adventure of a lifetime.
Team competition is an effective means of helping each camper develop confidence, self-reliance, good sportsmanship and a realistic approach to winning and losing. In an age-old tradition on the first night of each session, all new campers draw at random from a hat to determine which Ranch they will join – the Running W Ranch or Maltese Cross Ranch. Membership is lifelong. 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.