Camps Have Chance to Support Military Kids

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2008 - As mathematical formulas and reading lists overtake kids' memories of laughing with friends at summer camp, the National Military Family Association is already gearing up to rekindle those memories for next year.

The group is accepting applications from established, accredited camps willing to host its popular Operation Purple Camp program, said Michelle Joyner, director of communication for NMFA.

The program aims to help military kids enjoy a carefree week while learning to deal with war-related stress and fostering relationships with others who know what they are going through.

"This past summer we had 100 weeks of camp ... in 62 locations in 36 states," Joyner said. "That's what we're looking for again [next] year.

"We'd like to have camps in the most heavily impacted military communities. We've been fortunate to have a lot of camps in North Carolina, which can also serve its neighboring states."

NMFA especially would like to see Operation Purple camps in states with large National Guard communities including Texas, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oregon. In addition, Joyner said she'd like to see camp opportunities expand in Southern California, like they have in Virginia.

"We know that, definitely, the families need this type of a resource," she said. "We're hearing from parents, kids, [and] parents that are stationed overseas, thanking us for providing the opportunity for their kids to be with other children who understand them."

Nearly 10,000 children attended Operation Purple camps this year. That's up from a little more than 4,000 last year. Joyner attributes the jump in participants, in large part, to a partnership with the Sierra Club Foundation. The partnership, a year-to-year initiative, provided necessary funding to cover campers' costs.

Camps interested in hosting an Operation Purple camp must submit proposals no later than Nov. 7. Information on the application process and what is expected of the camps selected is available from NMFA.

"We provide the curriculum. We provide the funding to cover the cost of the campers to attend [and] we also provide mental health counselors through the Family Life program," Joyner said. "This is one way that communities can help military families and the kids."

The National Military Family Association is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

*Related Sites:*
National Military Family Association [ ]
Camps Have Chance to Support Military Kids  [ ]