Summer Fun for Small Humans: Camps and opportunities for military kids

Posted by Kelli McKinney

Somewhere around the third week of summer vacation, the chorus begins.

“I’m bored.”

“There’s nothing to do.”

“Can we go someplace?”

By now, you’ve probably heard this song a few times – or at least enough to start scouring the Internet for activity ideas. Is it too late for summer camp? Can anyone afford summer camp?

Search for local summer camps on the web may net you some interesting finds.  Although many camps fill up quickly, there are usually some last-minute cancellations and a persistent parent may be able to waitlist their way to a coveted spot.

And if you’re interested in summer experiences geared toward the needs of military kids, Operation We Are Here also provides a (long) list of summer camps that are one-of-a-kind opportunities. Plus, military families are often eligible for scholarships – or even free registration. They’re so cool they make us wish we could go to camp!

Here’s just a few that we found on the awesome site Operation We Are Here:

 A Backpack Journalist summer workshops and camps

Helping youth ages 12-18 find their voice through Narrative Writing, Reporting and Broadcast, Songwriting, Film making, Cowboy Poetry and Digital Storytelling. For military youth and service members, especially diagnosed with PTSD or TBI, our writing and journaling and digital storytelling are focused on helping each service member work through the issues each face.

Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summits

A week-long camp for 14-18 year old dependent teens of current Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard military members focusing on leadership development and self-confidence, learning about programs and services available to AF dependents, and building an appreciation for and sense of belonging to the AF community.

Air Force Space Camp – Huntsville, AL

This camp focuses on showing12-18 year olds what it takes to be an astronaut Imagine experiencing simulated Space Shuttle missions, training simulators, rocket building and launches, scientific experiments, and lectures on the past, present, and future of space exploration.

Army Reserve Family Programs Camps for Youth

Youth have the opportunity to participate in unique experiences at little or no cost. Winter Camping Opportunities are provided by Military Teen Adventure Camp grants, Operation Military Kids, and YMCA locations. These camps are open to Military-connected youth regardless of Branch of Service who have a parent/loved one in any phase of the deployment cycle; priority is given to children/youth from geographically dispersed families. Camps for youth with special needs (cognitive and physical) are also listed.

Camp C.O.P.E.

Camp C.O.P.E. provides military families with an unforgettable weekend at camp. Camp C.O.P.E. gives these children hope and patience and courage. Camp C.O.P.E  lets them be just kids- again! Through therapeutic interventions, certified therapists teach children and their families how to cope with their changed world due to deployment, injury or loss of a family member as a result of their service in our country’s military. Camp C.O.P.E. provides weekend camps across the country free of charge to children and families of military personnel.

Camp Corral

Camp Corral is a free, one-of-a-kind summer camp for children of wounded, disabled or fallen military service members. Since its founding, in 2011 as a one camp pilot program, Camp Corral has grown over 700%. Over 6,500 children have been served and the program has expanded to 23 camps in 19 states. Although any child from a military family is eligible, registration priority is given to children of wounded, disabled or fallen military service members.

Camp Yellow Ribbon (East Troy, WI)

Camp Yellow Ribbon 2015 will take place August 16-20, 2015 at Camp Edwards YMCA Camp & Retreat Center, East Troy, WI.

Camp Yellow Ribbon offers a free week of summer fun for military kids with parents who have been, are currently, or will be deployed.

Camp Yellow Ribbon provides a fun and educational outlet for children in military families, from all service branches. The goal of this specialized camp is to help them to learn how to cope with the challenges of having a family member who is deployed or has returned from overseas.

Our goal is to create a memorable camp experience and an exciting week of outdoor fun and adventure while allowing campers the opportunity to gather and learn in a safe place, vent their fears and frustrations and to meet other children who are experiencing similar challenges. Camp Yellow Ribbon also gives campers opportunities to learn, grow, and celebrate the military experience.

Defending the Blue Line

Our mission at Defending The Blue Line (DTBL) is ensuring that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the game of hockey. We accomplish this by providing free equipment for military kids, hockey camps, special events, and financial assistance for registration fees and other costs associated with hockey.

Minnesota National Guard Youth/Teen Camp (Camp Ripley, MN)

The Minnesota National Guard Youth/Teen Camp is for children of active and retired Minnesota National Guard service members. Activities include archery, hiking, biking, canoeing and camping – all while connecting with other military kids. Exploring a training site at Camp Ripley, seeing various military vehicles and marching in formation help youth better understand the military their parents serve in.

Week 1: July 26 to Aug. 1, 2015

Week 2: Aug. 2 to Aug. 8, 2015

Operation Free Ride (Horses for Heroes)

An opportunity to ride a horse for free!

Operation Free Ride is a program that offers weekly, hosted or sponsored horseback riding sessions that are free for every member of their family! This program serves military families with a deployed family member, as well as families who have a family member with a disability or serious illness. While our program is not able to serve the needs of the developmentally disabled or those with serious or terminal illnesses, we invite the other family members to enjoy the distractions and benefits to body and soul that only a day with horses can provide.

Operation Free Ride is just one of the programs that help Horses4Heroes fulfill its mission to make horseback riding affordable for, and accessible to, the families of the heroes in our community including, but not limited to: active duty military personnel, veterans, law enforcement officers, fire fighters/EMTs, critical care and hospice nurses and others.

Our Military Kids (grant for children of National Guard and Reserves)

Along with the sacrifice of having a parent away in service for months at a time, many Guard and Reserve families are financially stretched and cannot afford the fees for sports, fine arts, or tutoring programs so crucial to a child’s sense of well-being. Additionally, because these families are Guard and Reserve, they are geographically dispersed throughout the country and often live too far from military bases and installations to access the available support services.

Our Military Kids, founded in 2004, fills these gaps with a simple grant program that pays for children’s activities. Eligible families apply for a grant, and within days of receiving the application in the Our Military Kids office, a packet is sent to the child thanking them for their service to our country and notifying them of the award. The check to pay for the activity is sent directly to the service provider.

Our Military Kids helps families who often fall outside the parameters of established support programs – the families of National Guard and Reserve service men and women who have been and are continuing to sacrifice so much for our country.

Operation Military Kids Summer Camps

Operation: Military Kids is proud to host camping experiences for the children, youth and families of all military services experiencing deployment. Visit the link for information on camps for 2015. Also visit the link “State Information” on their website (and their state Facebook page) to learn of camp opportunities for military children in your state.

Operation Purple Camp (National Military Family Association)

Operation Purple camps offer a free week of summer fun for military kids with parents who have been, are currently, or will be deployed. The goal of the Operation Purple camp program is to give military children tools to help deal with the stresses that result from a parent’s deployment, through a memorable camp experience in a “purple” environment. Operation Purple camps are open to military children of all ranks and services: active and reserve components—and give priority to children whose parents are in a deployment phase.

Plantation Military Camp Program (Broward County, FL)

The Frank Veltri Tennis Center, the Plantation Community Tennis Corporation and the Broward County Veteran’s Council have been working together since Summer 2010 to provide free tennis camp scholarships to children with a parent or parents on ACTIVE Duty or who are currently DEPLOYED and reside in Broward County, Florida (priority to City of Plantation Residents).

Purple Heart Ranch (Sterling City, TX)

(Military Warriors Hero Support Foundation)

Purple Heart Ranch is open exclusively to combat wounded heroes and to Gold Star families. The ranch is also open to children of combat wounded heroes and those who have a parent currently deployed to a combat zone. Both the families of the wounded heroes and the parents of the children are encouraged to come and enjoy the experience with the hunters. There is fishing available at both properties and many other activities for the families. Both ranches are rich in history and are littered with Native American artifacts, especially arrow heads.

Sisters under Sail – Daughters of US Military Sailing Scholarship

Sisters Under Sail is a non-profit dedicated to teaching teenage girls leadership skills and life lessons through sail training.

Daughters of U.S. Military and Canadian Forces, age 13 – 18, have been invited to sail aboard Tall Ship Unicorn with Sisters Under Sail as we sail the Great Lakes in 2015. Sailing as the only all-female crewed tall ship in the world, Sisters Under Sail is dedicated to teaching teen girls leadership skills and life lessons through sail training.

To honor their service and sacrifice, Sisters will award several scholarships to teens whose parent(s) is a Fallen Warrior or Active Duty, Active Status in the Military, including the National Guard, Reservists and Coast Guard.

VFW Camp Trotter (Newaygo, MI)

Camp Trotter is a children’s camp located 7 miles East of Newaygo on M-82. The camp sits on the shores of one of west Michigan’s beautiful and picturesque lakes.  It is owned and operated by the Department of Michigan Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.  The management and oversight is carried out by a committee of elected members of the Michigan VFW, who take pride in keeping the camp in pristine condition to ensure the comfort and Safety of our guests.  The camp is fully licensed and insured with the State of Michigan.

Camp Trotter exists primarily for children of veterans, but is not limited thereto; we offer five weeks of camping to children seven to twelve years old from all over the United States. The camp includes summer activities on site including swimming, boating, hiking, biking, arts and crafts, archery, softball, volleyball, as well as campfire activities. The children are given a general knowledge of science, art, and nature, and taught patriotism, courage, self reliance and kindred virtues. We try to further instill upon our campers morals and values by combining educational activities with fun, our goal is to guide and assist our youth to build a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.

 

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