CLINTON COUNTY, Ohio — When a child has a parent serving in the U.S. armed forces, that child serves too. Military families are constantly on the move and that can be difficult for children who leave friends and all things familiar just to start over again.
For those reasons, the National Military Family Association created something special just for military kids.
“Military families move every two to three years, so they’re always having to make new friends, go to a new school explaining their life story,” said Besa Pinchotti, executive director and CEO of National Military Family Association. “The thing about Operation Purple Camp is, kids don’t have to do any of that because everyone is in the same boat, and they all understand where each other are coming from.”
Operation Purple started during the Iraq War as families were struggling with deployments and everything else that happens when there is a war going on. In 2004, the organization began Operation Purple Camp. The summer camps are just one service it provides for military families.
“We started these camps all around the country and they’re a place for military kids to go for a week, for free, to be around just military kids who understand what they’re going through,” Pinchotti told 10TV.
To date, more than 65,000 military kids have enjoyed a free week at these camps. This year, with the help of Bob Evans Farms, even more military kids were able to participate.
“Supporting military families is something that we’re very passionate about,” says Marissa Wilson with Bob Evans Farms. Wilson oversees the “Our Farms Salutes” program at Bob Evans Farms.
The program donated $60,000 to Operation Purple Camp. That donation made it possible for 100 additional military kids to attend summer camp. Some of those children were at Camp Joy in Clarksville, Ohio this summer. Camp Joy is one of many camps across the country hosting Operation Purple Camp.
“This may be their only extra-curricular activity in a given year because of how often they’re changing schools and moving around. They may have a parent, one or two parents, who may be deployed at different periods of time,” says Wilson.
The summer camps provide military kids an opportunity to connect with other kids like them. It’s a shared experience that will hopefully allow them to create fun memories and maybe even lifelong friendships.
If you are an active military member with children, you can get more information about Operation Purple Camp here Operation Purple Camp - National Military Family Association.
This summer is already booked, but there are virtual camps online that your kids can still sign up for. Applications for Summer 2023 will be available in February.