Celebrating Military Kids: 10 Years of Operation Purple® Camps

operation purple group

This summer marks the 10-year anniversary of Operation Purple® Summer Camp, a free camp to help military kids cope with the stress of wartime separations from their parents. Remarkably, 48,000 kids have attended an Operation Purple camp. Stand those kids shoulder-to-shoulder and they would fill an entire football field!

When we started this program ten years ago, there were very few support services specific to military kids. Since that time, many others have developed popular programs to support military children as communities around the country realized that these kids serve, too.

What started as a pilot program for 1,000 kids at 12 locations grew during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to summers of camps for as many as 10,000 kids in 37 states. The success of the program spawned Operation Purple Family Retreats for families reconnecting after deployment and Operation Purple Healing Adventures for the families of wounded service members. Families participating in the program volunteered to take part in the National Military Family Association’s research project examining the effects of war on military families. This research conducted by RAND was the first look at military families since the Vietnam War and became the basis for many studies that followed.

This milestone and these accomplishments would not have been possible without the generous support of donors. Over the past decade, several national organizations and individuals enabled us to provide this program for free to military kids.

A special thank you to:

Bob Woodruff Foundation, David Gelbaum, Goldman Sachs Gives, Highmark and United Concordia, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Sears Holdings, Sierra Club Foundation, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, USO

A heartfelt thanks goes to the following organizations that also provided critical financial support:

American Legion Auxiliary, ASMBA STAR Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Hardees/Weststar Foods, Health Net Federal Services, Hummingbird Foundation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Modern Woodmen, National Recreation Foundation, National Veterans' Services Fund, Newman's Own Foundation, Pike's Peake United Way, The Robertson Foundation, The Stafford Foundation, The USAA Foundation, Veterans Support Foundation, Wholly Guacamole, Wounded Warrior Project

In recent years, the lack of a national sponsor caused us to scale back the Operation Purple program. However, our commitment to military families remained. Several camps offered to share the expenses to show their support for the military families in their community. Thanks to the following camps’ efforts, Operation Purple Camp is still free to thousands of military kids:

4-H Camp Wabasso, Camp Bob at the Kanuga Episcopal Conference Center, Camp Fire USA Mt. San Antonio Council, Camp Whittier, Campfire USA Alaska Council, Catholic Youth Camp, Channel 3 Kids Camp, Florida Sheriffs Caruth Camp, Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center, Morning Cheer Inc./Sandy Cove Ministries-DBA-Camp Sandy Cove, Pioneer Camp and Retreat Center, Purdue University - Department of Health and Kinesiology & the Military Family Research Institute, South Mountain YMCA Camp Conrad Weiser, Tsuga Community Commission and the Camp Staff Coalition LLC, YMCA Camp Carson, YMCA Camp Chandler, YMCA Camp Widjiwagan, YMCA of Greater San Antonio/YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow, YMCA of Honolulu Camp H. R. Erdman

For ideas on how to support the military families in your community visit our Family, Friends, and Neighbors toolkit page. You can also make a donation to support our Operation Purple Program or a camp in your area.  


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Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.

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