By Kate Horrell,

Summer Camp for Military Kids

Being a military kid isn’t always easy, but it comes with some benefits.  One benefit is the many free and low-cost and summer camps offered by non-profits and various programs of the Department of Defense.  These are great opportunity for military children, and may help parents defray the cost of summer child care or just have a little respite from full-time parenting.

Funding for these programs changes each year, so programs that have not yet been announced for 2017 may not run, or they may have different offerings than in previous years.

Operation Purple Camp

Operation Purple Camps are coordinated by the National Military Family Association (NMFA), in conjunction with partner camps and other donors.  For children ages 7 to 17, priority is given to children with a parent in the deployment cycle or recovering from an injury.    Camps are available at locations across the country and dates range through the summer.

I am particularly fond of Operation Purple Camps because my kids were able to attend during their Dad’s last deployment.  They had a fabulous week of fun adventure, hung out with other kids who understood their lives, and I had five, glorious, child-free days after seven months of solo parenting.  It was eight years ago, and my children still talk about their time at camp.

Military Teen Adventure Camp

Military Teen Adventure Camps, organized through Purdue University, are open to teens aged 14-18.   These camps, which run year round, include assistance with transportation costs.  Previous years offerings included white water rafting, extreme rock climbing, and horseback riding.  The current program calendar runs through March 2017, so keep an eye out for the summer 2017 offerings.

Camp Corral

Organized by Golden Corral restaurants, free Camp Corrals are open to children aged 8 to 15.  There are camps at various locations around the country, and registration is open now.  Transportation costs are not covered, but the program has been able to provide some compensation towards camping costs during past years.

Navy Teen Summer Camps

Navy only, Navy Teen Summer Camps offer unique opportunities to try new activities at locations around the world.  Dates and locations for 2017 have not yet been released.  Follow their Facebook page to be informed when the information is announced.

Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summit

The Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summit offers two, week-long camps for 14-18 year old dependents of current or retiree Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard members.  In addition to more traditional camp activities, campers will learn about programs and services available to AF dependents.

Applications are due by 15 May 2017 at 0800 Eastern Time, and priority is given to those who have not previously attended.

American Wanderer Summer Camp

American Wanderer is a unique summer camp that takes campers on road trips in RVs.  They offer scholarships to children of Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, Retired and Former Service members.

In addition to these nationwide camps, many local area camps offer weeks for military children, or special discounts on regular camps.  Check with your local Armed Services YMCA, installation’s youth center, or family readiness center for more information about local area opportunities.

Quite a few camps that used to offer military child programs are either not running or no longer indicate that they offer military programs.  I’ll keep my eyes open and update this list if I find out about more offerings.

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