WASHINGTON -- Interested military parents have until May 15 to register their children to attend free "Operation Purple" summer youth camps, a camp official said here today.
This year, 22 "Operation Purple" camps located across the country and overseas will provide summer camp experiences for more than 2,000 children whose parents are members of the U.S. armed forces, said Lauren Rebeiz, the National Military Family Association's project manager for the program.
Attendees from ages eight to 18, spend five to seven days experiencing canoeing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, team building and other activities, Rebeiz said.
The NMFA and Sears, Roebuck and Co., co-sponsor the Operation Purple program. Rebeiz said the camps are funded by a $100 million commitment from Sears' American Dream program. In addition to stateside locales, the camps are also offered in Japan, Guam, Italy and Germany.
While priority is given to register children with a deployed parent or those with a parent about to be deployed, Rebeiz noted any military child is eligible to attend an Operation Purple camp free of charge.
Participants with a deployed parent can gain coping skills by discussing their feelings with other campers who are in or have experienced similar situations, Rebeiz noted.
Motivational speakers are also part of Operation Purple activities, Rebeiz added, noting that they can help to put things in perspective for young campers pining for a departed parent.
Camp participants are also provided "lots of opportunities to network with other kids (and) develop a lot of really good friendships" and just have fun, Rebeiz noted.
Openings for this year's camps are still available, Rebeiz reported, especially in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Texas. "We really don't want to see any of these spaces unused," she pointed out. Parents can get full information and register their children through Operation Purple's Web site.
Rebeiz said about 1,000 children attended last year's Operation Purple camps, the first time the program was offered.