The military and military traditions have always been integral parts of Culver Academies and Culver Summer Schools & Camps. Whether it is the color and pageantry of the weekly Garrison Parade or the solemn strain of “Taps” at the Veterans Day Ceremony, Culver has always valued the service and sacrifice of our military personnel.
So, it is only appropriate that Culver would somehow find a way to thank our military men and women for their service. Now in its third summer, the Culver Supporting Our Troops program will be hosting 15 families of active-duty soldiers and wounded veterans for a free week’s stay during the second session of Culver’s Family Camp, Aug. 11-17.
Culver works with three military organizations – the Wounded Warrior Project, the Navy SEAL Foundation, and the Yellow Ribbon Fund – which select the participants, according to coordinator Tony Giraldi, Culver’s director of International Advancement.
The idea of Culver Supporting Our Troops came out of a conversation among Giraldi, a 1975 CMA graduate, and Oklahoma alumni Jud Little ’65 and Dr. Mike and Whitney Kolb Alvis ’96. The funding comes from alumni and friends of Culver, though Giraldi noted the “largest supporter financially, a Houston family, has never been on campus and has no Culver affiliation.”
This year, more than $100,000 was raised to provide the Family Camp opportunity for the 15 military families. The affiliated organizations pick up some of the travel expenses for families. In addition, seven military children received scholarships to attend Culver’s six-week summer camp programs Woodcraft Camp and Upper Camp.
A deployment to a combat area is difficult for children of those servicemen and women, Giraldi said. They often have more difficulty coping because they are so young and know their parent may be in harm’s way. “The military parents are making a sacrifice, and the children are making an emotional sacrifice,” Giraldi said.
Culver Supporting Our Troops is “one of the most satisfying things I have ever done,” added Giraldi, who is also involved with Culver’s Spring Break in Mission trips to Mexico, which partners with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for native peoples.
Culver Supporting Our Troops is part of The Culver Fund, and donations are appreciated, Giraldi said. His goal is to see the Supporting Our Troops program transition into a scholarship for the sons and daughters of military personnel at Culver Academies.