Summer send-offs build foundation for families

Jan Garrison

Culver parents reaching out


September 2, 2021

Before new Culver students experience move-in day, the uniform fittings, all-school prep rally, and Matriculation, they often attend summer send-offs. The events are regional gatherings around the country – and the world – designed to introduce new parents and students to existing Culver families in their area.

Director of Parents Relations Julie Crews Barger said there were nine events conducted across the country and two in China this summer. The Culver Parents Association encouraged their membership to participate this year since the 2020 events were not conducted due to the pandemic.

And, since the fall and spring Parents Weekends were conducted virtually during the 2020-21 school year, the summer send-offs allowed many of the 2020 parents to finally meet the families of other local students as well.

The send-offs serve a variety of purposes, she said. The events serve as an avenue for setting up ride-shares and other logistics, exchange uniforms or reg rec, answer last-minute questions for both new parents and students, and to just have a familiar face to speak with later while on the boarding school's campus.

Most of the events are clustered throughout the Midwest, Barger said. They included Chicago and the western suburbs, northwest Indiana, northern Indiana/southwest Michigan, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Culver. One was held for Colorado families and another in the San Francisco area. The Chinese send-offs were conducted in Beijing and Shanghai.

The bay area send-off brought 20 people together at the California Golf Club. Parents Ed Conlon and Ed Kress ’86 (“Two Eds are better than one,” Conlon said.) organized the event that drew people from Napa, San Jose, and the east bay area as well as San Francisco.

Conlon is the father of CMA second classman Richard Conlon. Kress is the father of CGA sophomore Estelle Kress and first classman Aiden Kress.


Send-offs were held at San Francisco, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Granger, Colorado, Chicago, and Beijing.


Conlon explained the event served as an opportunity for both the new students and parents to ask peer-to-peer questions. The new parents were especially curious about how the military system operated, he said. Other questions revolved around the COVID protocols on campus. It was also an opportunity to work out travel arrangements and exchange contact information, so no student has to travel alone. “It’s a long trip,” he added.

The event generated enough enthusiasm that Conlon and Kress are planning another event around the holidays, which will also include Culver alumni in the region. They are starting to work out the details now, he said.

The event drawing the largest number of people was hosted by parents Gary and Mary Graham of Granger, Indiana. They invited “anybody with a Culver connection” to meet with the new families, Mary Graham said. That included friends of their sons, Jacob ’21, Matthew ’22 and William ’22. More than 70 people, including 20 students, came from across northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. A family from Mexico, who arrived early, also came since their son is in Troop with the twins.

Held on Aug. 8, Graham said it allowed the new families to meet other parents and students just before they were scheduled to return to campus. And, since it was the last send-off of the summer, they invited area families who may have had conflicts and missed the earlier events. That happened when they were new parents and their oldest son, Jacob ’21, was an incoming fourth classman.

She added they realized the added importance of holding the send-offs because COVID-19 had prevented the send-offs from occurring last year.

Barger said the goal is to organize similar events in other regions. In some cases, though, such as Texas and Florida, the families are so far apart, it is difficult to hold a send-off that is within a reasonable driving distance for everyone.

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