Operation Purple Campers Enjoy the Dog Days of Summer

by Maranatha Bivens, Communications Editor

They're waiting at the door when you come home, dizzy with excitement to see you. To them, there’s nothing better than cuddling up on the couch and spending quality time with you. They’re there when you need them most, somehow knowing what you’re thinking without you having to say a word. They don’t call them “man’s best friend” for nothing, and anyone that has a pet won’t find it difficult to imagine how the presence of an animal can bring comfort and assist in any healing process.

Operation Purple® camps give military kids the opportunity to escape the stresses of a parent’s deployment by spending time with kids in similar situations and having fun in the outdoors. Although they have a great time at camp, some kids have a difficult time transitioning to camp life and leaving their “normal” lives behind for a while. HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response and the American Humane Association work with the National Military Family Association to bring animal-assisted therapy to military children.

"As a proud dog owner I know that campers often find comfort while interacting with well trained dogs. The therapy dogs during Operation Purple allowed campers with military parents to experience a positive interaction beyond the realm of regular camp programming,” says Gary Woodhurst, Camp Bob Program Director.

For many, the dogs’ presence brings a comfort from home to a new location, but for kids that don’t have a pet, the interaction is entirely new and exciting. The time spent with these specifically trained therapy dogs and their teams provides a morale boost to campers and allows them to work through stress and heightened emotions in an innovative but ultimately basic way.
Says Camp Bob’s Katherine Parnell, "The dogs are trained and the representatives who worked with the dogs and campers were so patient and encouraging while campers expanded their comfort zone. I guess it really is true what author Ben Williams said, 'There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.'"

Learn more about Operation Purple camps for kids and retreats for families.

Campers have fun with therapy animals

Campers have fun with therapy animals

Campers have fun with therapy animals

Campers have fun with therapy animals

Photos courtesy of Kanuga Conferences Inc.

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