Poor Boys Camp

My Years as the Camp Boss by Dale Joyce

Many Poor Boy Camp riders do not know that our camp is a break off from the Cheapskates. It was in the mid 50’s to early 60’s and over camp dues that some of the Cheapskates riders wanted to start charging. Those who objected broke off and became the Poor Boys. There were other issues, too. The leaders of each group were Roy Coxwell, Cheapskates, and Bill St. Clair, Poor Boys


Another item that may be of interest is that from 1947 until 1961 the Ride did their own cooking on the trail. On Wednesday of the 1961 ride they were served stew for dinner and most of the riders came down with food poisoning. They had to ride all day Thursday with diarrhea. Roy Coxwell ran for El Presidente in 1962 and his slogan was “NO STEW IN ‘62”. They hired Martin Jetton, owner of Western Trails Catering for their food.

After my third DC ride in 1978, Russell Overton, the Poor Boy Camp Boss, asked me to help him with the camp. Russ passed away that summer and I stepped in as camp boss.

All I knew about running a camp was that I had to buy the snacks, liquor and soda. After getting the camp book, I learned that I had to collect the camp fire wood, too. At that time camps had to bring their own fire wood. I got some local Poor Boys who had a truck and we drove into the desert to collect the wood.

Russ would buy all camp supplies and then collect fees on the ride. The ride fee in 1979 was about $5.00, but it was quite hard to catch everyone. I had very little money and just hoped to get paid back, figuring next year there would be a new camp boss and my problems would be over.

After the 1979 ride, I was asked to be a member of the Ride and, when I accepted, they told me I had also been elected to the Board of Directors. So, I was a new member, new director and the camp boss.

In 1980, I struggled and made a lot of miscalculations. The biggest was splitting all the snacks into four large bags, one for each day, but not marking the bags. When we came into camp on Monday the Bat Boy had opened all of the bags and we ate most of the snacks.

DC Ride Poor Boys Camp
DC Ride Poor Boys Camp

Back then, the Poor Boys had their own Pink Potty that we carried in our camp truck. One summer I brought it home, scrubbed it clean inside and out, repainted it pink, and purchased a new lid. On the day of our Saturday night party (our first pre-Ride party) I stapled a black plastic bag inside the potty, placed it besides where we were serving drinks, threw ice in and made good use of the potty. We had some funny looks.

The Saturday night party was a big success, but we decided we could not afford it without raising the dues substantially. I wanted to raise the dues only a little and do the party ourself. We would cook steaks and ask the local ride wives to help with the salads and desserts. I raised the dues to $10 and $5.00 extra for each guest at the party (spouse or friend).

We knew the party would be hosted by different riders and most did not have big barbecues, so I went to the owner of Western Trails who cooked for the ride (Martin Jetton, Charley and Eddie Nassar) and borrowed two of their big barbecues.

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Coney Orosco (camp boss for the Ride) obtained 8 or 9 tables for us. The Green Stripers met me to pick up the barbecues, set up the tables, and cover them with plastic wrap. We had local and out of town Poor Boys helping also. We requested the Green Stripers so they could meet other Green Stripers plus other Poor Boys and be a little more comfortable at the party and on the Ride. The local wives helped, too, making the cowboy beans, coleslaw, and desserts. (I remember my wife (Niyla) spent about three months making a chocolate type cookie, a batch every week.) We were able to pay all bills and bank a little money, but the best part was that it gave the riders and their spouses a chance to renew old acquaintances and meet the new riders and wives. 

We continued to do the parties this way until I became El Presidente in 1988 & 1989. Unfortunately, my wife became ill in 1990 and I had to give up riding and could no longer be camp boss. Phil Ridway became camp boss and kept the parties the same until he became El Presidente in 1996 & 1997 when Jim McArthur became camp boss until he became El Presidente in 2002 & 2003. 

While I was camp boss, things arose that allowed us to make a little money for the camp. In the early 1990’s, hat pins became very popular. One of our poor boys, Tom Ogden, had close to 100 pins on his hat. We came up with our own Poor Boy pin from a card I had, reversed the picture to avoid plagiarizing, and we got our Poor Boy logo. The pin was pewter and twice the size of a normal hat pin but it had no attachments. I had to glue 2 attachments to each pin. 

I really liked the looks of the cowboy on the pin. I asked a friend, Julie Shufelt, to make a Poor Boy plaque using the cowboy. Julie’s husband is a well know western artist, Bob “Shufly” Shufelt. Julie is a very good artist in her own right and she painted the cowboy on a canvas Flag. So, we owe our logo, pin, plaque, and flag to local non-Poor Boys. 

Another way we made a little money for things we needed was with jackets. One of the riders from KC had a contact. The jackets cost around $40 dollars and we charged $55. We also got suspenders which I doubled the price on. It was not a secret. I told the riders what I did, that my checkbook was open, and if someone checked my books, they had to keep them and become camp boss. No one ever asked to see the books. 

About 1983 our camp began to grow thanks to Dr. John Gridley from Minneapolis. He belonged to the Caballeros del Norte riding group and invited many from this group, and riders from Canada and North Dakota also. To this day John holds the record for the most riders sponsored in our camp. 

I also invited a rider from Kansas City who belonged to Saddle and Sirloin group. From that one man, in three years I sponsored 17 new riders. Shortly before I became El Presidente we had 55 riders in our camp. Actually, that is really too many because you don’t really get to know them all. My first year as El Presidente the Ride had 264 riders. 

Just before I became El Presidente, the Colorado Camp disbanded. The Colorado camp sponsored the Top Hand Award. I called Sage Kester, one of the few living Colorado camp members. I asked Sage if we could keep the Award alive and let the Poor Boys sponsor it. We would keep the name. Sage agreed and sent me the trophy and some plaques that are given to the Award winners. The cushion I had built up in our account helped keep this award going. 

I will say I did have to raise camp fees from time to time and I think they were $25 when I left. 

Dale Joyce Dump

Desert Caballeros Trail catus