Parents Never Dreamed Sending Their Kid to Camp La Junta Would Turn into a Sexual Abuse Nightmare

An 11-year-old sent to summer camp returns to his family with a horrible secret.

Mark faced Bovee in court, telling him he hadn't been destroyed and that Bovee should be a real man and confess about the other children he had hurt so they could be lucky enough to receive the treatment and help Mark had gotten. But Mark and his family are still working on recovering from this. It's important to his family and important to Mark that the truth come out. "This did happen, and it probably happened to other kids and the camp covered it up. They called [Mark] a liar and they covered it up," George said.

Bovee is in prison now — not because he was sentenced for sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy but because he simply couldn't stay off unmonitored computers or keep away from Facebook (where he was sending friend requests to children, including some of the boys from Cabin 6). He couldn't not drink alcohol or avoid firing a firearm. He refused to wear a monitoring device on his leg, and he was found to be living within 500 feet of a school. Bovee had moved to Travis County, but officials there were so frustrated with him that they handed responsibility back to Kerr County. Eventually, when the list of infractions grew long enough, Bovee was sent to prison for nine years. He is expected to be up for parole in April 2015.

dianna.wray@houstonpress.com

Kelly didn't realize Mark was being watched by Blake Smith, the camp director, and Matthew Bovee, the counselor who was molesting him, when her son called her.
Illustration by Peter Ryan
Kelly didn't realize Mark was being watched by Blake Smith, the camp director, and Matthew Bovee, the counselor who was molesting him, when her son called her.
Bovee used shower checks to touch Mark in increasingly inappropriate ways. Mark didn't tell his parents about the abuse until months later.
Illustration by Peter Ryan
Bovee used shower checks to touch Mark in increasingly inappropriate ways. Mark didn't tell his parents about the abuse until months later.

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22 comments
John
John

This is sick to think that the camp is at fault for this and should be shut down. They get home-sick cases every year, Mark just happened to be one. This camp has changed the lives of many kids and adults in a positive way for years. This story is also WAY over-exaggerated, Smith was probably not standing near the child as he was talking on the phone and listening in. He was simply monitoring the child to make sure he wasn't doing anything he shouldn't be doing. I am sorry for the child who has been scarred, but it is not the camp or Smith's fault. The counselor who did it secretly is to blame.

mom2011
mom2011

I love my children very much, AND I send them to camp - THIS camp, for nine years in a row now.  As I type this, one of my sons is till there, and my other son recently returned from his first term there as a counselor, following seven great years of camp experience.  It's heart-breaking that this happened to this poor child, but to blame the entire institution of summer camp, and to label any parent that sends their child to camp as neglectful, uncaring, or insensitive, is absurd.  Sadly, abuse happens in schools, parks, churches, scout troops, and locker rooms too, but do we jump on parents and blame them for neglectfully and uncaringly putting their children in harm's way by sending them to any of those places?  Having had children at this camp when this incident happened, knowing what the camp's staff did in follow up for months afterwards to make sure it hadn't happened to other campers (one of my sons was in the same cabin as this child, with this same counselor), and knowing the precautions they have put in place to protect the campers and train the staff, I am confident that this may well be one of the SAFEST camps a child could attend at this point.  We will always have to be vigilant in protecting our children, and predators will always be out there.  Summer camp is one of many choices parents can make among potential activities for their children.  For mine, it has been one of the most valuable experiences they have had.  I don't insist that parents who chose not to send their children to camp are doing the wrong thing, and for readers to suggest that I am an unloving parent by choosing to send mine to camp is equally ignorant.  And, to suggest that this camp, which continues to provide great, and in some cases life-changing, experiences for more than 500 children each summer should be categorically "shut down" over the actions of one sick person is like suggesting that every school, church, activity center, youth athletic league, etc., in which a predator has managed to slip through the cracks, should be shut down. 

And BTW, the counselors, and senior-level campers, almost all have sporting/utility knives in their pockets or hooked on their belt, at all times.  It is a tool they are carefully trained to use, in their day to day responsibilities as outdoorsmen and ranch hands.  The campers see them in use throughout every day. To sensationalize that detail in this story is incredibly misleading.

myhealthtoo
myhealthtoo

don't send your kids to camp if you love them!!!!

over55phillips
over55phillips

What do we have to do keep kids from these kind of people! I don't have kids, but what I'm 

is a person who whose raped. And I get mad as hell when a child goes though the same 

thing that I went though. And I praise the parents who shows love & care for not just for they kids, but for other kids


sp91546
sp91546

Nice article. Well done. So does anybody know the status of the camp?

Thanks

Rodney Barnes
Rodney Barnes

I stopped after page 2. If children are not off-limits to these scum, then they shouldn't be off limits to the victims family.

Ken Cornelius
Ken Cornelius

read this on the bus this afternoon. Guy next to me saw the front page and asked to read it afterwards. All my youth was mad at my mom for not letting me go to camp. Now I completely understand why.

robinvtx
robinvtx

heart wrenching story of the evil that goes on every day in this ugly world. 

falcon130013
falcon130013

This sick person needs prison time this child needs help.

pgc77099
pgc77099

I feel so sorry for Mark. I pray he can get through this, and bless his loving mother who put herself in the middle to get this story public.

Jerise Harris-Henson
Jerise Harris-Henson

Ugh, how awful. I hope this family gets justice and this camp is shut down.

Elisa Flores
Elisa Flores

Very very sad...makes me thankful that I couldnt afford to send my son to camp when he was younger...plus being that far away for a week is just too much for me, i need to know and see for my own eyes that my son is ok.

sarahperry24
sarahperry24

Beautifully written. I'm glad someone wrote about this so that poor child can hopefully have justice. Well done, Houston Press and Dianna Wray.

Katy Parks
Katy Parks

Records are always clean until it happens. They have to be caught to have it show up in their record. Until they're caught it doesn't mean it's not happening. Scary and disgusting that people do this.

Kelley Jones Workman
Kelley Jones Workman

Camp Cho Yea in Livingston Tx has a very clean record. But this makes me think twice.

Daniel Rex
Daniel Rex

Trust me Boy Scouts and Christian camps are not innocent of these things happening either. Please guard your children

springs.vicki
springs.vicki

@sp91546 It seems as though the only thing allowed to print on here are negative opinions about the accuser, when I posted true facts about the case it was deleted.   

 
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