Summer is a great time for relaxing, but it’s also a good time for kids to have experiences that are unavailable during other times of the year. Summer camps are great opportunities for kids to make new friends, learn new skills, and build character. These free or discounted summer camps especially for children from military families give them all this, plus the chance to connect with other military kids who are going through similar experiences and challenges.
The Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summit is a week-long camp for 14 to 18-year-old teens who are dependents of current or retired Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard members. Teens will learn what it means to be a leader, gain self-confidence, build a sense of belonging in the community, and learn about programs available to Air Force dependents. Classes throughout the week will include learning about the mission of the AFR and ANG, environmental education, military traditions, community service projects, and musical performances.
There is also an Air Force Active Duty Teen Leadership Summit for 14 to 18-year-olds of Active Duty military who are currently assigned/living/working on an Air Force installation or Air Force-led Joint base with classes and activities geared towards leadership development and learning what it means to be part of the Air Force community.
Airfare, transportation meals at the Summit as well as camp registration fees and lodging are paid by the Air Force through their partnership with the University of Georgia/Georgia 4-H.
American Wanderer Summer Camp offers four 2-week sessions exploring America’s National Parks for kids ages 11 to 17. The mobile summer camp travels to locations in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Summer sessions explore the Anasazi Pass, the Ute Route, the Shoshone Trail, and the Lakota Path. Sessions begin June 25 and run through August 19. Military discounts are available for children of active duty, Reserve, National Guard, retired and former service members.
The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) offers children of enlisted families the opportunity to participate in family, youth, and teen camps any time of the year. There are branches and affiliates located across the United States including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Florida, Kentucky, and more. Campers will strengthen bonds with family and friends from their community, build self confidence, and learn important outdoor skills and environmental awareness. The camps are free and vary by location, so check with your local ASYMCA for more details.
Badger Youth Camp is a program offered by the Wisconsin National Guard serving campers aged 8 to 17. The low-cost weekend-long camp connects military children from all over the state, giving them to bond with other military families, enjoy a variety of activities, learn about team building, respect, loyalty, and patriotism and build their self confidence and sense of independence.
Camp Corral is a free week-long camp for kids from military families aged 8 to 15. Camp Corral is open to all military children but priority is given to children of fallen service members, or with military parents who are wounded or disabled. Campers will enjoy a week full of outdoor adventures like canoeing, swimming, fishing, and horseback riding. There is also arts and crafts, ropes course challenges, archery, and more. Delicious meals, outdoor skills, growing new friendships and making memories that will last a lifetime are just a few of the benefits campers will enjoy at Camp Corral.
Camp Yellow Ribbon is a week-long overnight summer camp for children of military families with a parent who has been or will be deployed. Offered by Easterseals of Southeast Wisconsin, the camp gives children ages 7 to 15 the opportunity to connect with other kids with similar experiences who are also coping with separation from a loved one. Campers at Camp Yellow Ribbon will enjoy outdoor activities like fishing and swimming and will gain self confidence, long lasting memories, and new friendships.
Operation Extreme is a summer camp program for children of military families from all branches. They offer day camp and overnight camp options. Fees range from $25 to $265 and are based on rank and camp options. Operation Extreme camps are faith-based and are located in Washington state at Island Lake or Miracle Ranch. Campers will have the opportunity to connect with other military kids who have similar circumstances while participating in a range of fun activities including paintball, dirt biking, and horseback riding. Operation Extreme Junior camps are for children in grades four through six, and Operation Extreme Teen camps are for youth in grades seven through twelve. Operation Extreme Day Camp is for campers in grades one through six.
Horses 4 Heroes is a nonprofit organization based in Las Vegas that offers recreational and instructional programs with horses to military youth and adults. The equestrian programs enrich the lives of participants by boosting confidence and morale, and teaching wellness and healthy living through safe and fun activities with horses. Horses 4 Heroes offers summer camps from June through August as well as regular programs throughout the year. While the primary location for Horses 4 Heroes is Las Vegas, they feature a list of additional equestrian facilities across the nation that are registered as affiliates that may offer similar summer camp opportunities.
Online summer camps from Microsoft are not specifically for military kids, but these free themed camps have something for all skills and interests for kids ages 6 and up. Camp themes are announced regularly and run year round.
Teen Adventure Camps are offered through Purdue University. Camps are for teens ages 14 to 18 of Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, and Retired military personnel. Current camp locations are in Colorado, Georgia, and Kentucky and and are free to low-cost. Campers will enjoy a range of outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hiking, camping, backpacking, and mountain biking. Camps take place June through August.
The Minnesota National Guard camps are offered to children related to a member of the Minnesota National Guard. The week-long overnight camps are for 10 to 12-year-olds for youth camp and 13 to 15-year-olds for teen camp. Each camp session breaks campers up into groups of 25 to 30 and they work through a variety of age-appropriate scheduled activities and programs including flag ceremonies, archery, team-building exercises, military vehicle demonstrations, campouts, sports, arts and crafts, swimming, and canoeing. Camp takes place at Camp Ripley near Little Falls, Minnesota. Campers will gain new friends, confidence, and long-lasting memories.
The National Military Family Association offers Operation Purple Camp to support military families by providing a free week of camp to children ages 7 to 17. Operation Purple Camps are specially designed to meet the needs of kids with a service member returning from deployment, preparing to deploy, or finding normalcy after an injury by teaching coping skills and having fully trained counselors and camp staff onsite with experience overcoming the stresses of military life. Kids will enjoy outdoor activities, learn wilderness survival skills, practice martial arts, and do arts and crafts while connecting with other kids who are learning to cope with similar experiences. Operation Purple camps are open to military children of all ranks and services. Ages and activities vary by camp location.
The Semper Fi Fund Kids Camp provides a week-long program for at-risk children from military families, giving them an opportunity to connect with kids with similar circumstances and a safe positive environment to talk about their experiences and challenges. The camp gives kids the tools they need to gain self-confidence, resiliency, and leadership skills. Campers will participate in a variety of activities including wall climbing, canoeing, caving, and more. Semper Fi Fund camps are currently available in Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, California, and Georgia. Camp dates and activities vary by location.
The West Virginia VFW sponsors and annual youth camp for kids of military families aged 11 to 14. The camp is free for approved applicants. The week-long camp is held at Camp Dawson and has been operating since 1960. Campers at the military-style camp will learn discipline and following directions, and will participate in flag ceremonies. They will be given the chance to connect with other military kids while enjoying activities such as rock wall climbing, swimming, archery, and learning self-defense.