Mom, I'm Bored! Summer Enrichment Opportunities for Military Kids

Summer Enrichment kids looking at bug

Although summer is a great time for families to relax and recharge after the demands of a busy school year, it often doesn’t take long before boredom rears its ugly head. Parents also worry that their children will lose ground academically during the long weeks of vacation. Fortunately, the Department of Defense (DoD) and community partners offer a variety of summer programs to keep kids energized and engaged before heading back to the classroom.

Experts say that children can experience significant learning loss over the summer, especially in essential reading and math skills. One way to avoid this is for children to participate in a summer reading program. Families living near an installation with a library can participate in the DoD-MWR Summer Reading Program, Paws to Read.

Families who don’t have access to an installation library should know about the DoD MWR online library program. These online libraries offer a wide range of resources for all ages, from preschool through adult, and are free to service members and their families. The site includes collections of chapter books, graphic novels, educational videos, and audio books designed specifically for children. All books are available with unlimited access, all the time, from any device with an Internet connection.

Military families and DoD civilians should also be aware of recreation activities through their installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) office. Programs vary by installation but may include free or low-cost concerts and events, camping and adventure trips, equipment rental and summer camp opportunities for kids. Through MWR, military families can also receive free passes to visit any federal park in the United States.

Another enrichment program available for military children and families is Blue Star Museums. The program, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, offers free admission to more than 2,000 museums across the country for all active duty, National Guard and Reserve military personnel and their families.

The Department of Defense has also partnered with several community organizations to make summer camp available to military children. 4-H hosts a variety of camps, both day camps and traditional sleep-away camps, at locations across the country. Camps are open to all services, both active and reserve; however, geographically dispersed families and those with service members in any stage of the deployment cycle will have priority.

Military teens also have the opportunity to participate in unique outdoor adventure camps. Camps will be held at locations across the United States throughout the summer; winter break adventure camps are available as well. Each camp offers a unique outdoor experience that helps teens build leadership, self-confidence, and teamwork skills while participating in exciting outdoor activities.

While we all look forward to relaxing over summer break, kids still need to be active and engaged. Keeping kids busy reading, visiting museums and enjoying the outdoors will ensure that they get the most out of their vacation and return to school energized and ready to learn.

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