The National Military Family Association, NMFA, was founded as a Military Wives Association in 1969 and has since grown into the organization that it is today. Operation Purple Camp is a program specifically for military children that was established in 2004. In 2020, Operation Purple went virtual but in-person camps returned in 2022.
Operation Purple. Those two words alone may not mean very much, but they have a big impact. Operation Purple is a camp just for military kids. The color purple was chosen to represent a mix of children from all the branches – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard. What would a mix of those service branch colors make? Purple. In fact, active-duty and veteran military-connected children are from all eight uniformed service branches are eligible to apply. This includes the Army, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, National Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration, and the United States Public Health Services Commission Corps, as well as the National Guard and Reserve components of each respective branch.
Operation Purple Camps are week-long overnight camps offered tuition-free at various locations across the United States. The goal of the camp is for the military children to connect with other children who have the same lifestyle. It can be difficult to move every 2 years, starting over in a new school that may or may not have other military kids there to connect with. This camp provides an opportunity for these children to meet others like them with similar challenges and to grow and develop new skills.
Operation Purple camp applications open on February 15th of the year they are offered and close on March 15th. Children can only attend one camp per calendar year. Not every application is a guaranteed spot. Applications are chosen based on the criteria, including if the service member is wounded, ill, or injured or if a parent is preparing for or currently deployed. After those children are provided with their camp of choice, the remaining slots are filled with other eligible children.
The applications are not just about the children. The NMFA utilizes the data collected for the Research and Insights Team. This team compiles the data and uses it to create and enhance the NMFA programming.
The camp provides not only an outlet for the military kids to be together but also to grow a community. Mental health and well-being is affected by connection, which the frequent mobility of the military interrupts. The camp is a retreat for military kids to be with others who understand them.
If your child is selected for Operation Purple Camp, there is a $25 hold my spot deposit. This deposit is held until the end of the camp season, at which time someone from NMFA will reach out to ask if you want the deposit returned to you or used as a donation to the program. Other costs may include any COVID-specific testing or protocols and transportation to and from the camp location.
6/4-6/9: Cooper Landing, AK
6/25-7/1: Mount Washington, MA
6/25-6/30: Williamsburg, VA
7/2 – 7/7: Trinity, TX
7/17 – 7/21: Dahlonega, GA
7/23 – 7/28: Columbia, NC
8/6 – 8/11: North East, MD
8/13 – 8/18: San Diego, CA
Each camp has specific age requirements based on the facility.
While camp applications have closed for the 2023 year, the waitlist is still open at the time of this writing. If you are planning ahead for next year, look for the 2024 dates and locations to be posted in early 2024, with the application period opening in mid-February.