By Julie Provost

2017 Operation Purple camp applications are now open
(Photo: DVIDS)

National Military Family Association puts on “Operation Purple” camps for military children every summer. It’s a fun experience for military children and families and a great way to connect with the military community. During Operation Purple milkids find others who share their challenges and learn about support and resources to help them through deployments and other issues unique to them.

Who is NMFA?

The National Military Family Association was founded in 1969 by military wives who wanted to make sure that their friends who had become widows would always be taken care of. NMFA has become the voice of military families through advocating for the needs of service members, military spouses, veterans, and their children and providing opportunities such as military spouse scholarships, Operation Purple camps, and family retreats.

Why Operation Purple?

Since 2004, Operation Purple has served more than 60,000 military kids. 1,000 of them were children of wounded, ill or injured service members. Fifty-three percent had deployed or deploying parents.

Last year, there were 31 camps in 25 locations. This year, in 2017 there will be 13 camps in 10 states. You can find the camps throughout the United States, although NMFA encourages campers to attend the one closest to their home.

(You might be wondering why the camp is called Operation Purple. This is because the purple is a mix of the Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine Corps red, and Navy blue.)

Who can attend Operation Purple?

To attend, children must fit one of these categories:

  • Children of all five military branches
  • Children of the National Guard and Reserves
  • Children of those in the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service
  • Children of those in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Children of retired military can also apply for the camp if the service member was injured of ill on or after 9/11 or if they were deployed during the current deployment window that is established every year.

Additional considerations:

  • All children need to be between the ages of 7 and 17. There are additional age restrictions for certain camps.
  • Priority is given to those who have a parent or guardian who has a service-connected injury or illness that happened on or after 9/11 or children who have a parent or guardian who deployed during a 15-month deployment “window” which includes pre- and post-deployment phases.

2017 Operation Purple camps and dates

AK- Fire- Campfire USA Alaska Council, ages 7-17, July 31 – August 4th

CO- Deckers- YMCA Camp Shady Brook, ages 6-8,  August 6-8 or August 9-11

CO- Deckers- YMCA Camp Shady Brook, ages 7-17, August 6-11

CT- Andover- Channel 3 Kids Camp, ages 7-17, July 2-8

FL- Pierson- Florida Sheriffs’ Youth Camp, ages 9-17, July 9-14

FL- Inglis- Florida Sheriffs’ Caruth Camp, ages 9-17, June 25-30

IN- Princeton- YMCA Camp Carson, ages 7-15, June 4-9

NC-Parkton- Camp Rockfish, ages 7-17, July 2-7

NC-Hendersonville- Camp Bob at the Kanuga Episcopal Conference Center, ages 7-17, July 23-28

NY-Angola- Pioneer Camp and Retreat Center, ages 7-17, July 9-14

TX- Ft. Worth- Camp Carter, ages 7- 17, July 16-21

VA-Williamsburg- Jamestown 4H Educational Center, ages 7-13, August 20-25

WA-Ellensburg- Lazy F Camp, ages 9-14, August 6-11

WV-High View- Camp Sandy Cove, ages 7-17, August 6-13

When can you apply?

The application process starts February 10, 2017. The application process shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes and can be completed online. The application window will be open for 6-8 weeks.

Where do you apply?

You can apply here on NMFA’s website.

What’s the Next Step?

You should receive a confirmation email after you submit your application. You will then be notified by email if your child has been accepted to camp. This should happen no later than six weeks after the application window has closed. Although the camp is free, there is a “Hold My Spot” deposit that you will get back when your camper checks in.

Can I Donate to Operation Purple Camps?

Whether you have children or not, you can donate to NMFA to help support Operation Purple camps as well as the other programs that they provide for the military community. You can become a member or give a one-time donation.