Being a military kid can be hard, but it also definitely comes with some benefits. Many of these benefits are provided by non-profit groups and their generous supporters. Low-cost and free summer camps are a great perk for military children, and also help their parents to have a little break or defray the cost of summer child care.
There are many groups that are trying to make things easier for military families. As a result, there are lots of opportunities for military kids to go to summer camps for free or low costs. There used to be a great online list of all the opportunities, but I can’t find it. I will try to put together a new list here. Please notice that many programs have not yet published their 2014 schedules yet. In addition, funding is tight and some programs may not run this year, or they may have more limited offerings.
This free camp program, for youth ages 7 to 17, is coordinated by the National Military Family Association (NMFA), in conjunction with partner camps and other donors. In past years, there have been locations across the country and even overseas. Priority is given to children with a parent in the deployment cycle. Plans have not yet been announced for 2015, and each year seems to get a little smaller as donations dwindle.
I am particularly fond of Operation Purple Camps because my kids were able to attend during their Dad’s last deployment. They had a fabulous week of fun adventure, hung out with other kids who understood their lives, and I had five, glorious, child-free days after seven months of solo parenting. I can not explain how much this mean to all of us.
Open to teens aged 14-18, the Military Teen Adventure Camps offer amazing summer camps with scholarships that include assistance with transportation costs. Previous years offerings included white water rafting, extreme rock climbing, and horseback riding. The current program calendar runs through May 2015, so keep an eye out for the summer 2015 offerings.
The Tiger Woods Learning Center is located in southern California, and offers both Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camps and golf camps. Military children may receive a full scholarship for the six-day camp, but transportation costs are not covered (and are not cheap, due to the small airport and limited arrival times). The camp is just under a week-long and the kids participate in a variety of activities, including a day trip to Disneyland.
The Military Child Education Coalition administers the Bernard Curtis Brown II scholarships for military children to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. This scholarship covers all costs including transportation, and is open to students in grades 6 through 9.
In addition, the Air Force Youth Programs offer Space Camp scholarships to children, aged 12-18, of Air Force service members, or those attached to an Air Force command.
Organized by Golden Corral restaurants, free Camp Corrals are open to children aged 8 to 15. There are camps at various locations around the country, and registration is open now. Transportation costs are not covered, but the program has been able to provide some compensation towards camping costs during past years.
I will update this page as I hear more information, but be sure to do your own checking. Sometimes I miss things!
These camp opportunities offer amazing experiences to our kids. Thank you to everyone who makes them happen!