Among the number of summer camps that children will attend this summer, one of the more unique camps is called “Operation Purple.” Located in Santa Barbara, this camp is exclusively for children who have parents deployed by the military. Here, they meet other children who have gone through similar experiences and have relatable worries and fears.

The camp is organized by the National Military Family Association, which has been the leading expert on military family issues for 35 years. The project started in the summer of 2004 and has expanded over 34 camps in 26 states with the help of Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s Sears American Dream Campaign. They estimate that over 155,000 children have a parent deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. This year 9,000 children applied for the 4,000 available slots at each camp site. The children spend one week away from home and partake in usual camp activities such as swimming, horseback riding, archery, climbing, boating, and ropes courses. At the same time, military personnel are on hand to answer questions and give advice to the campers. The kids also make patriotic-themed arts and crafts.

Camp registration begins March 15th of each year and is available for any child who has a member of their family being deployed between May 2006 and September 2008. All service branches are welcome including the Guard and Reserves. If there are extra spaces, camp slots are filled with any military child from any service branch. The relative being deployed does not necessarily have to be a parent or guardian. Older siblings, aunts, and uncles who are deployed also count as long as the child lives in the same house with them. The camp is also free including meals, lodging, and activities to brighten the summer for both the deployed and their children who miss them.

For related articles visit http://www.nmfa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=op_faq and

http://www.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/08/08/Operationpurplecamp/index.html#cnnSTCText.

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