By Ian Kempf

Summer camps have been around for as long as we can all remember. Many of us, or those we knew, grew up having attended at least one at some point. Some go for a week, others for the entire season, but regardless of the amount of time spent away from home, summer camps offer children the opportunity to get away on a retreat with their friends and enjoy community with others their own age. Just because your child is a military brat doesn’t mean that they should have to miss out on the fun. Here are the benefits your child could reap from attending a summer camp geared towards military kids.

Getting Out and About With Military Summer Camps

It’s no secret that a lot of military kids can end up becoming somewhat unintentionally ostracized from their peers due to the nature of their family’s lifestyle.

Many military children by the age of 10 have already experienced what it’s like having to uproot their home and go somewhere completely foreign from what they’ve known. It’s not easy to try and build fresh relationships, and it’s even harder when you’re the new kid on the block.

Military summer camps for youth offer children the chance to spend time away from their families and come out of their shell with kids their own age, hopefully fostering new connections that will grow into something worthwhile.

Military Summer Camps Offer Familiarity While Being Different

It’s good for kids to push themselves out of their comfort zone, but even then it can be a bit too much to ask children to try and assimilate with their peers who they may have nothing in common with. This is where military summer camps come in.

Every child from the youngest to the very oldest who has been a part of a military family understands what kind of lifestyle it is, and how much of a struggle it can be. From having to leave friends and family behind from a previous station, to now having to reinsert themselves into a whole new community, it can be especially daunting. Military summer camps help to mitigate this by bringing together other children from military backgrounds to enjoy fellowship with one another.

By sharing a common interest, children are much more likely to be receptive to one another, and have the opportunity to potentially forge new friendships.

How Do I Know Where to Find a Military Summer Camp?

Luckily for military families, your installation may very well likely already have built-in programs for youth summer camps. Most installations offer summer camps for a wide variety of ages. They will offer different activities based on your child’s interest. You can learn more about these programs by visiting your installation’s youth center for more information about their particular offerings.

If your installation does not offer any programs, you can always search for “summer camps near me” for the ones closest to you. There are plenty of options out there.

Some Camps Even Offer Academic Options

A big benefit of getting your child started with one of these programs are the courses made available to them. These academic courses will give children/teens the chance to take part in certain skill-based activities like:

  • Drone piloting
  • First aid
  • Aquaculture
  • Leadership

Military Summer Camps Will Keep Your Child Cared For and Comfortable

Sending your child away for potentially months at a time can be an understandably worrying notion. Thankfully, every summer camp is guaranteed to have all the facilities needed to accommodate everyone staying with them.

Commodities such as classrooms, dorms, health-centers, recreational areas, as well as fitness facilities will make sure that every resident from every age group has what they need for an enjoyable retreat.

These Four Military-Rooted Summer Camps Are Sure to Be a Hit!

American Wanderer Summer Camp

American Wanderer Summer Camp gives kids a 2 week long session where they will be visiting America’s national parks. Designated for ages 11 to 17, American Wanderer Summer Camp travels across Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming, and Utah.

If you’re interested in this trip for your child, you can learn more here - dates span from June 25th to August 19th.

Camp Corral

Camp Corral offers a free week-long excursion for kids ages 8 to 15. Camp Corral’s mission is to offer children of ill, wounded, or fallen military service members and Veterans a time where they can come together and learn to build connections, work on coping skills, and increase their self-confidence.

Children who take part in this program will be empowered to step out of their comfort zone, test their limits, and create bonds that will show them that there are others out there like themselves.

Thanks to the donations of their partners, Camp Corral’s summer camp program comes at no initial charge for families, though there is a $30.00 fully refundable deposit after they approve your application, which is necessary to move forward in the enrollment process.

If you would like to know more, check out their website.

Horses 4 Heroes

Horses 4 Heroes is a non-profit organization based out of Las Vegas that offers outdoor recreational programs for children of Active Duty service members, Veterans, and First Responders from ages 2 to 17. Like the name suggests, Horses 4 Heroes will give children a chance to learn horseback riding, guided horse rides, as well as interacting with a variety of farm animals. Aside from animals, Horses 4 Heroes also offer other recreational activities such as archery, cornhole, and horseshoes.

The prices for campers vary depending on age, which you can find listed here. All of the earnings that Horses 4 Heroes makes is sent back into other operations that seek to help First Responders and Veterans with PTSD.

Horses 4 Heroes is primarily located in Las Vegas, but they have numerous other facilities across the United States that offer an experience similar to their primary location.

The Armed Services YMCA

The ASYMCA offers programs that are aimed at military children to help them build and grow new friendships with others who are in a similar situation.

Their program, Operation Camp, focuses on building a child’s confidence and improving their self-image, healthy management of anger, and how to resolve disputes in a responsible way, strengthen bonds with their friends and family. The camp gives children the resources and know-how to cope with the ever changing life of a military kid.

In order to get more information on whether the ASYMCA near you offers Operation Camp, you can click here.

Memories That Last a Lifetime

It’s important for military children to feel included, especially during big life transitions such as a change of station. Military summer camps provide the chance for kids to feel a sense of comradery with others like them, while also learning new skills that may spark a passion in them further down the road.

Summer is fast-approaching, but it’s not too late to enroll your child. When thinking about which summer camp is the best option for your child, consider the following:

  • Location: These camps listed above are but only a few of the many multitudes of summer camps available. Make sure to always check your local area for any that may be of value to you and your child.
  • Mission: Depending on your child’s individual personality and needs, they may jive better with a camp that better matches who they are as a person. If they’re not interested in the idea of horseback riding with a place like Horses 4 Heroes, but really like the idea of the traditional camper’s experience, then perhaps a place like Camp Corral would be more to their enjoyment.
  • Price: While many of these summer camps are free-of-charge, some may require an initial holding fee to secure your child’s place in line, or a dollar amount to attend at all. Some camps, depending on certain factors, may offer the initial upfront cost to be fully refunded to you later, or will even through the use of partners be able to cover the cost for you completely. You might even come across a camp that uses the proceeds to support other military led ventures. Since most summer camps don’t charge that much for their programs, it comes down to your personal preference.

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