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Free or Discounted Summer Camps for Military Children

By - Posted on April 20, 2015

military children huddled together for a summer camp photo

Attending summer camp is a rite of passage for many children.  It gives kids a chance to participate in outdoor adventures, learn new things, and make new friends.  Summer camp can be an especially meaningful experience for children who have a parent in the military.

Frequent moves and having a parent away from home are normal parts of life for a military child, as are the stress and fears that accompany these challenges.  Summer camp can help military children by giving them a chance to have fun in a safe and nurturing environment. They can let go of stress, build self-confidence, and enjoy exciting activities with other kids their age.

Fortunately there are many camps around the country that give military children an opportunity to attend summer camp for free or at a discount. Some camps are designed especially for military children and teens, and not only allow the campers to participate in traditional summer camp activities, but also have special programs that help them better cope with the challenges of military life.  The campers swim, hike, and take part all types of other outdoor activities, while connecting with other kids who share similar experiences and feelings.

If you are interested in sending your child to summer camp, check out this list of just a few camps that are free or discounted for military children.

American Wanderer Summer Camp

Camp discounts for military kids
Various dates
Locations:  National Parks around the country

American Wanderer Summer Camp offers four two-week sessions exploring America’s National Parks throughout the country. Campers can experience the wonders of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Lake, the Canyons of Utah, Mount Rushmore, and more.  Military discounts are available and children of active duty, reserve, National Guard, retired, and former service members are eligible to apply for scholarships through the American Wanderer Foundation.

Camp Corral

Free week of summer camp
Various dates
Locations: 23 camps in 19 states

Camp Corral gives military children ages 8-15 an opportunity to attend one week of camp free of charge. Preference is given to children of wounded, disabled or fallen military service members.  The camp is designed to be a “week of a lifetime” where kids can bond with children in similar situations and participate in all types of activities including swimming, ropes course challenges, horseback riding, and many more.  Camp Corral is held at camps throughout the country and applications are now being accepted.

2015 Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summits

Free week of camp
Dahlonega, GA  – July 12- 17, 2015
Estes Park, CO – August 11-16, 2015

Military teens who are dependents of current Air Force Reserve or Air National guard military members are eligible to attend  the week-long Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summits in GA and CO.  Campers learn about leadership and military traditions, while participating in community service projects, musical performances, and many outdoor sports and adventure activities. Application deadline is May 15, 2015.

Tiger Woods Learning Center Summer Academy

Free tuition for week-long camp
Sunday, July 19-Friday, July 24, 2015
Location:  Irvine, CA

The Tiger Woods Learning Center in Irvine CA invites military children ages 11-13 to apply for full tuition scholarships to attend its week-long camp focusing on STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) instruction and enrichment workshops. Campers stay at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center and will participate in traditional outdoor activities in addition to spending a day at Disneyland.  Application deadline is April 30.

Operation Purple

Free week of camp
Various dates
Locations:  Throughout the country

The National Military Family Association collaborates with camp partners around the country to give military kids with a deployed parent a free week of camp.  Children participate in activities like kayaking, hiking, zip lining and rock climbing, while connecting with kids just like them.  Applications are now being accepted for the Operation Purple Camp 2015 season.

Camp Yellow Ribbon

Free week of camp
August 16 – 20, 2015
Location: Camp Edwards YMCA Camp & Retreat Center
East Troy, WI

Camp Yellow Ribbon is run by the Easter Seals Foundation of Southern Wisconsin. This week-long overnight camp for children ages 7 – 14 enjoy a camp experience that’s “fun with a purpose.” The camp is for children who have a family member who is, or has recently been, deployed.  Children take part in outdoor adventure activities while having the opportunity to talk about their fears and frustrations, and meet other children who are going through similar challenges. Download the application here.

Our Military Kids

Grants for children of Wounded Warriors

Our Military Kids is not a camp, but a nonprofit organization that provides camp grants to children of  Wounded Warriors.  To learn more about the program and eligibility criteria visit the Our Military Kids website.

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