Chris “Fletch” Justice (S1992-1998)

Hometown: Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Current City: Boulder, Colorado

Contact Info: mizzoutigers12@yahoo.com

Cabins: Eagles, Pioneer, Bunkhouse, Fish Tech, Pioneer, Eagles, Crow’s Nest

Roles: Counselor, Baseball Director, Sports Director and Program Director

Education: B.S. Physical Education, University of Missouri-Columbia, 1993

Occupation: Recreation Director, Boulder Country Club

Spouse: Rachel

Children: Avery (age 4) and Addison (1 ½)

Where does your story with camp begin? How were you first introduced to Camp Lincoln?  Early spring 1992, I saw an ad in the school paper for a camp counselor position.  I called the local contact and met up with a guy named Greg Taylor (1982, 1984-1986, S1987, 1990-1992), who told me all about it.  I was a physical education major and working at a camp sounded like fun.  I sent in my application, and called the main office about once a week for the rest of the semester.  I had never spoken with anyone British, and Phil Bertrand (S1983-1997) seemed like a fun guy.  Phil kept telling me that he still wasn’t sure what the staffing situation looked like for the summer.  Finally, while I was back at my parent’s home after the semester, Sam called and told me that they would like to hire me, and that I would need to be there in two days!  My parents drove me to camp from Kansas City that first summer.  When I left Missouri, it was 95 degrees.  When we pulled up to Bunkhouse the next night, it was freezing cold outside.  I told my mom to send up my winter clothes, as I had only brought one pair of jeans and one sweatshirt.

What are a few of your favorite memories from your days at Camp Lincoln? This is an impossible question to answer!  When I look back at my “camp” years, I tend to look at them as one entity, even though I can remember with distinct clarity each summer.  But when I think about camp, I think about the anticipation I felt for the upcoming summer, the joy that I felt while it was happening, and the sadness that I felt at the end.  And then I repeated that same cycle seven times.  Beyond the memories of general day-to-day fun with the campers, whether it was in the cabin, at an evening activity, or one of the thousands of hours I spent on the baseball field, my crew and I put on some pretty elaborate dining hall shenanigans.  See:  The Bob Turkey run for President in 1996 (complete with the conspiracy theory video), The NWO, The AWO, or the many Elvis visitations to the shores of Lake Hubert.

What are some of the things you learned at camp?  Favorite activities? One thought in particular stands out in my mind, and that is that there are others like me in the world.  Those with a spirit for adventure, and a will to step outside of our daily bubbles. I realized this immediately.  Although I had many good friends that I grew up with, I always felt like I wanted to venture past the walls of Missouri, and learn and experience the world on a different level.  Once I started working at camp and meeting so many people, campers and staff alike, who were from all over the place and bonded by the magic beans of being at “Camp,” I knew that I had found my home.

Do you have any fun/funny travel stories about getting to camp, camp canoe trips, or traveling outside of camp with camp friends? Most of my travels during and since my camp days involve my camp friends.  I lived in London with Chris (S1986, 1989, 1991-1995, 1997) and Phil Bertrand’s mom (mum) after I graduated college.  My wife and I stayed with Ady Sarkozy (S1991-1994, 1996) a few years ago when travelling through Australia- just to name a few.  Scott Johnson (S1991-1997, 1999) and I swear that a ghost shined a flashlight in our tent several times while on a camp trip with Eagles cabin on Whitefish Island in 1992.  How did you get the nickname ‘Fletch’? Very early in my college career at Mizzou, some new friends started calling me “Fletch” since that was the movie (starring Chevy Chase) I was watching when they came over to my apartment for the first time. It’s one of my favorite movies and even back then could pretty much recite it all in its entirety.  I’m pretty sure that some of those guys never knew my actual name, as I became Fletch from that day forward with that particular group of friends.  Flash forward a few years to my first summer at camp in 1992.  On my first day during work camp, I had to get up to introduce myself to the group.  During that same meal there were two or three other Chris’ that introduced themselves as well.  Bill Jones said, “That’s a lot of Chris’!  Do any of you have a nickname?”  I said that some friends used to call me Fletch, but that I hadn’t heard it for a while. But that was that.  From that day forward, I was officially Fletch.  Some of my friends from home even started to pick up on it as the “camp” friends would visit and it just grew beyond my control.  To clear up some misnomers that I’ve heard over the years:  1.  I’ve never introduced myself as Fletch.  Sometimes I’ll have to make mention of it since it can be confusing, but to this day, I do not meet someone for the first time and say, “Hi, my name is Fletch.”  I am Chris in my “real” life.  2.  The name comes directly from the Chevy Chase movie. Nowhere else. 3.  Rob Justis (S1990-1997) and I are actually not related.  I’m sorry to be the bearer of this news to all of the campers and staff who believed until six seconds ago that we were related.

What was your favorite camp meal or dining tradition? I always sort of looked forward to chicken nuggets.  Speaking of chicken nuggets, as a 12 year old camper, the former CL full-timer Blake Holman (1993-2001, S2004-2007, 2009-2011), who was spending his four periods per day at the baseball field back in those days, ate over 65 chicken nuggets during one meal.  It’s a memory that no one in attendance that day will ever forget, and a record that I don’t believe will be broken.

Can you elaborate on any lasting friendships you have from camp? We’re too old to go out and find new ones, so I guess we’re all stuck with each other at this point, right?  I’m remembering a quote about camp friends again, but I can’t quite remember how it goes…

What did you love most about camp?  What is the biggest take-away you have from your days at Camp Lincoln?
 I loved the passion, intensity, camaraderie and overall joy that I felt from the moment that I set foot on the hallowed grounds of Camp Lincoln.  The bonds that are forged on the shores of Hubert are unbreakable.  There is magic is that bug juice.

Hometown, high school, activities, interests, etc.? I was born and raised in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and have been a lifelong Tiger.  First, at Lee’s Summit High School, and then at the University of Missouri (Mizzou).  Playing sports, from baseball to rugby to golf to football to basketball and beyond, and watching sports, from the Chicago Cubs, Colorado Avalanche and all things Mizzou, has been a huge part of my life.  I’m also passionate about music, travel, skiing and running.  I’ve done more than 15 marathons and 10 ultra-marathons, including two starts at the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Marathon.  I’m also pretty passionate about fun.  I like fun. 

What are you up to now?  Tell us about your family life and interests. I just celebrated my five year wedding anniversary with my wife, Rachel, and we have two beautiful future CLH campers- Avery (age 4) and Addison (1 ½).  We currently live in Boulder, Colorado, where I have been the Recreation Director for the Boulder Country Club for the past six-plus years.  I somehow parlayed some of what I did and learned at camp into a real live profession!

Do you have a mentor you look up to or creed that you live by? I was mentored by these people:  My father, Olen Justice Sr., my mother, Carol Justice, my high school friend, Brian Taylor, late night TV host David Letterman, and the late runner, Steve Prefontaine.  My father, Brian and Mr. Letterman forged my humor, sarcasm and tilted view of the world, my mother gave me my sense of adventure, and Prefontaine showed me that the only speed is full speed.  My favorite quote is from Prefontaine.  “The best pace is a suicide pace, and today is a good day to die.”

Is there anything you would like to add to complete your camp story?  I’m working on it.  Every day.  I’ll get back to you in 40 years or so.