The Culver experience

Senior is shaped by experiences at military camp


Contributed by Justin TIdd

Tidd attends a military based camp each summer in Culver, Indiana. The camp has taught him organization and discipline.

As the SHS swim team prepared for a meet against Whiteland, they knew it would be a close one. The coach calculated the prospective points, and he knew that the team needed more members. That’s when senior Justin Tidd was asked to dive for the team. He accepted the offer, even though he hadn’t dove for at least a year.

“I just heard, ‘Hey our team really needs you to step up to the plate, really needs you to do the best you can. Can you do it?’” Tidd said. “And I (said) ‘Absolutely.’”

Tidd prepares for rowing.

But stepping up for his team isn’t something Tidd could have ever imagined himself doing without particularly meaningful experiences he’d had up north at Lake Maxinkuckee, at Culver Summer Schools & Camps.  Tidd began going to camp at Culver in 2010 and completed his final summer in 2019. Since starting his summers at Culver, Tidd says the camp has shaped him into the person he is today.

 Culver is located on the north shore of Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver, Indiana. Culver was founded by business entrepreneur, Henry Harrison Culver. Culver’s mission, according to its website, is to “educate its students for leadership and responsible citizenship in society by developing and nurturing the whole individual – mind, spirit, and body – through integrated programs that emphasize the cultivation of character.” The portion of the camp that Tidd attends is military based and he says that it has helped him be more organized and disciplined. Tidd says that little things have stuck with him from the camp like referring to others as ma’am or sir. For Tidd, Culver’s mission and approach have aided in his personal growth and allowed him to come out of his shell. 

Culver has allowed Tidd to come out of his shell and grow his social and leadership skills.

“Before my experiences with Culver, I was a very shy kid,” Tidd said. “I looked down at the ground a lot, (and) I didn’t really have conversations with adults or even kids my age. I was just very antisocial and close to my family and no one else really.”

Tidd’s parents say they’re very proud of the way Culver has helped them shape their kids in ways that they couldn’t, such social and leadership aspects. Though they don’t think that Tidd is a completely different person, they feel that he has changed in many positive ways after each summer experience at Culver. 

“When you watch them mature in ways that you can’t teach them, (and) they have to kind of figure it out on their own, it’s well worth it,” Tidd’s mother, J.J. Tidd, said.

According to Tidd, one important lesson from his Culver education is displaying leadership through teamwork and support for the people around him. One instance that Justin displayed leadership was during the Communications Relay.

Tidd has attended Culver summer camps since 2010.

 The relay contains different teams competing in different events. Justin was on the Naval 1 team this summer. Though the relay is a team effort, Justin kept his team in high spirits and encouraged them all throughout the race until it was time for his event, swimming. In the moment, Justin knew he had to give it everything he had because he knew that his team was depending on him and he didn’t want to disappoint them. Despite the Naval 1 team not having a victory since 2016, they pulled off the victory and ended the three year losing streak. The winning team always runs to the lake and jumps in, significant to a victory lap. Justin never thought he would get to experience the jump in the lake, but in his final year, he finally got to experience what he had been looking forward to since he knew about the relay.

“We had doubters from everywhere,” Tidd said. “No one believed in us, and then all of a sudden we just showed people wrong. And it was an amazing feeling because those guys mean the world to me no matter where we are. That is my family.”

Tidd has also used his experiences at Culver to positively influence his relationships at home. When his sister, sophomore and Culver participant Natalie Tidd, was struggling, Tidd dropped everything — including an important meeting before his Communications Relay — to be at her side. Natalie believes he wouldn’t have reached this level of caring without the foundation laid at Culver each summer. 

“If Culver wasn’t there, Justin probably wouldn’t have done it, ” Natalie said. “He probably would have done his meeting and then said ‘Oh, I’ll deal with my sister later.’”

Tidd rows in crew.

Tidd adds that Culver helped bring him out of his comfort zone, which has had a major impact on his time at SHS. Tidd doesn’t think he would have stepped out for bigger roles in theater, been so active in Cardinal Cadre, National Honor Society or football in the way that he is without the time he spent at Culver over the years.

Tidd was first introduced to theater at Culver and performed in his first musical while at camp. Since then, Tidd has made a name for himself in theater productions at Southport Middle School and SHS. Culver helped ignite a passion in Tidd for theater and says he hopes to make it on Broadway. 

“I think really everything I have done at Southport has come from something, no matter how big or small, from Culver,” Tidd said.
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