Camp Gratitude for Military Teens

Master Laurie Shover, Master Instructor of Villari’s School of Shaolin Kempo and Chief Instructor, Darrel Duffy have been providing programs for military children since September 11th, 2001 and since then have offered free martial arts training to any child with a deployed parent. As an outcome of running these programs, their dojo has teamed up with 4H Operation: Military Kids (OMK), a non-profit organization that provides programs for military families, from deployment to re-integration support. OMK has helped them to obtain grants to provide more and better camps to military kids.

Both master Shover and Mr. Duffy credit Grandmaster Villari for all his contributions to the martial arts world, his insights, and leadership. “Without him the martial arts community would be very different today. We also know what he has done for military forces as well having family in the military so this is our way of giving back to him.”

Mr. Duffy has over 15 years of training and prides himself in what he does and knowing that he can, and does, make a difference in the lives of his students and their families. He also gives credit to his wife and instructor, Master Laurie Shover, “She has taught me everything about being a teacher of Shaolin Kempo, and I just hope that one day I can be half as good as her.”

Master Shover and Mr. Duffy have grown their studio from one location in South Burlington to six locations. They were motivated to open the new locations largely by the tough economic times and people not being able to afford to travel to So. Burlington as well as the sacrifice of the military children and their parents.

“We want all the military families to know that we appreciate all that they do for our country, so we would like to invite them to visit any of our locations. Even if a child does not have a parent deployed, we will still give them three months of tuition-free training.”

All of the activities at Camp Gratitude, the most recent Villari’s-organized camp for military kids, were interactive, without a cell phone or Ipod in sight. Without the distraction of text messages or TV, the kids received individual attention in the form of Qigong (Chi Kung) classes as well as trips to the UVM ropes course, a cruise on the Northern Lights (compliments of Sarah Kleinman of 4H), and most importantly a volunteer clean up at Charlie‘s Boat House that was ravaged by the flood.

Of course, the camp was run by a Shaolin Kempo school so the field trips were grounded with traditional karate training, which taught and reinforced lessons on health and healthy lifestyles. Each day kids trained in self defense, weapons, yoga, and many team building exercises.

If you would like to get more information about Villari’s programs for military kids, you can e-mail Mr. Duffy at If you are curious as to what Villari’s style of martial arts is like, Mr. Duffy often tells kids that it’s like mixing the Karate Kid with the Kung Fu Panda.

SOURCE: Villari Studios

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