Culver’s legacy runs throughout Kim Tharin’s family. Her brother, Scott Hinshaw is a 1989 CMA graduate, her grandfather Walter Schrage Jr. is a 1931 CMA graduate who also attended Culver Summer Naval School, and her uncle, Mike Schrage, is a 1966 CMA graduate. Tharin (above, left, with classmates Fernanda Gutierrez and Meg Dinwiddie Burk) also has a number of cousins who attended Culver. That legacy continues through her children, who attend Junior Woodcraft Camp and Woodcraft Camp.
Why do you give to and/or volunteer for Culver?
I have been on the Culver Legion Board for five years, which is also the time I got re-involved as a class leader. In preparation for our 25th reunion, I took on the role of Gift Chair and continued representing our class in that role for several years after. I have since switched over to Communications Chair for the class of 1991. Both roles on our leadership team have given me more opportunities to reconnect with classmates, get to know classmates I did not know at all, and to collaborate with other class leaders and Culver faculty and staff. Seeing how Culver operates as an adult, as opposed to my teenage days, makes me appreciate all the facets of what makes our school so unique and the importance of giving back.
As a Legion Board member, I have gotten to know alums from across the decades, from different parts of the country and world, and who all have a different Culver experience, yet we all share a common bond which is our commitment and appreciation of Culver. One of my favorite responsibilities as a board member is coming back to campus for our meetings. While on campus I get to see some of my favorite teachers, staff and faculty who are still shaping young students and making a difference. I see firsthand the incredible facilities that have been built since the time I graduated and the programs offered to students. Most importantly, I get to talk with students who amaze me with their poise, confidence, intelligence, ambition, leadership, and accomplishments in academics, athletics, arts, service projects, leadership and school spirit. Culver friendships are one of a kind and I know I cherish mine. Being on campus I get to see these same friendships forming amongst the current students.
What motivates you to stay engaged with Culver?
Being engaged with Culver through my class and alumni keeps me close to friends. For the last three summers my son has attended Woodcraft, so I am now engaged with Culver as a parent and becoming familiar with the summer experience, which I did not have growing up. It has been fun for me to see classmates who are back during the summers as parents and some who also work at Culver during the summer. Again, to look at the operations and logistics that make a camp run with more than 1,300 campers is remarkable.
Was there someone who influenced or made an impact on you while you were at Culver?
When my older brother, Scott Hinshaw ’89, came home for his first break, I remember he said to me, “You have to go to Culver. You will never find teachers who care so much about their students.” He was right. There are many who influenced me, inspired me, and guided me in my dorm, in athletics and in the classroom. Nancy (Nowalk) McKinnis, Laura Weaser and Carolyn Kline believed more in me as a leader than I did myself. Their support helped me build my confidence and grow as a leader within the prefect system and beyond. As an athlete, I will never forget the unwavering positive support from Larry Bess as athletic director and Lori Elliott, who coached me in volleyball and softball. Of course, Dan Cowell encouraged and helped me recover from an ACL tear my junior year so that I was back on the basketball court in time for sectionals. After changing majors in college, I pursued my love of language, cultures, and travel by becoming a Spanish major and then joining the Peace Corps after college. This I attribute to the energy and joy of languages that I saw in the classroom from Sr. and Sra. Thornburg. My brother was right, the faculty and staff become extended family and role models. We did not have a formal mentor program then, they all shaped us in our daily activities and guided us to reach our full potential.
What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about Culver?
I believe Culver is much more than a summer camp or a boarding school. Culver has a holistic approach to leadership and character development which are woven in to the programming so kids may not even realize the leadership skills that they are developing.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about giving or volunteering?
Each person has a unique Culver experience and each person has a story to share. I think it is important for all who are touched by Culver to consider giving back and staying connected. There are so many ways to do that. The most important thing you can do is share your story. Join one of the many Culver Clubs across the globe, reach out to your classmates, provide advice to graduating seniors, contribute to the Culver Fund so others can continue the traditions of excellence, and of course, you should come back to reunion to see firsthand all that has changed and all that remains the same.
What is one thing you wish people knew about Culver?
Whether it is spending a summer on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee or the school year at the Academies, Culver gives you the confidence to challenge yourself and others, the knowledge of when to listen, the skills to lead and a compass to bring you back to the place where much of your character was shaped.