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.

Written by Blake Smith

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