The National Military Family Association (NMFA) is an organization that supports military families through numerous projects, and one specifically for the smaller members of the military family is Operation Purple Camp. The NMFA began offering Operation Purple Camps in the summer of 2004 specifically for military children to provide opportunities to engage with other children their age from a wide array of military branches. 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.
Active-duty and veteran military-connected children from all eight uniformed service branches are eligible to apply, including 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 National Guard and Reserve components of each respective branches. The one-week camps are offered tuition-free to military children.
The applications typically open in February of the year the camps are offered. In 2023, the camp applications were available from February 15th to March 15th. Locations of the camps are released at the time of the application. In the past, as many as eight camps were in various locations across the United States, including San Diego, Alaska, and Texas. Campers can apply for one camp only and are notified if selected within six weeks of application closure. Not all applications are accepted – the priority is given to those children who have an injured or ill parent or have a parent in the deployment cycle. Once open spots are filled with children of that category, NMFA fills the spots with remaining eligible military children.
NMFA utilizes the information provided in the applications as part of their research for the Research and Insights Team, and this data is used to plan to create NMFA programming for military families around the world.
There is a $25 hold my spot deposit if your child is selected for Operation Purple Camp. This deposit is held until the end of the camp season when someone from NMFA will ask if you want the deposit returned to you or used as a donation to the program.
The camps provide opportunities for connection among military children who have their lives disrupted frequently with moves, deployment cycles, and training. The camps have outdoor activities, including water sports, archery, and various sports, which vary through each camp based on the camp’s available resources.
Look out for dates and application information on Operation Purple Camp’s website in February.