About the Camps
Application Process
Registration + Notification
"Hold My Spot" Deposit
Waitlists + Cancellations
Volunteer Opportunities
Packing List 


About the Camps 


What is Operation Purple Camp?

Operation Purple camps offer a free week of summer fun for military kids with parents who have been, are currently, or will be deployed. The goal of the Operation Purple camp program is to give military children tools to help deal with the stresses that result from a parent’s deployment, through a memorable camp experience in a “purple” environment. Operation Purple camps are open to military children of all ranks and Services: active and reserve components—and give priority to children whose parents are in a deployment phase between September 2013 and December 2014.



How is Operation Purple camp different from other military kids' programs?

Operation Purple camps are the only camps that provide a residential camp experience to military kids in a purple environment. In addition to providing the camp experience they also teach kids coping techniques and provide them with tools to manage their stress, the week-long summer camps offer a wide variety of fun and interaction with other military kids.



What Activities are offered at Operation Purple Camp?

Operation Purple camps provide many activities. Some examples are:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Archery
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Rock Climbing
  • Ropes courses
  • Swimming



Application Process

Can I apply to an Operation Purple camp outside of my state?

Yes, however; we urge that you apply to camp nearest you as we do not reimburse for travel expenses. We understand that sometimes the camp nearest you that also accommodates your child’s age may be out of state. Additionally, the National Military Family Association recognizes that military families frequently PCS and/or visit family during the summer months. However, please remember that you can only apply to one camp.


Can my child apply for, or attend, more than one Operation Purple camp per summer?

No child is permitted to attend more than one Operation Purple camp per summer. There are no exceptions to this policy. This ensures the most children possible are able to go to camp. If it is determined a child attended more than one camp, the child will become ineligible for future Operation Purple camps.  Also, only one application per child is permitted. If more than one application is submitted, the National Military Family Association will select one camp for the child and remove all subsequent applications for that child. 


How do I complete the application if I have more than one child that would like to attend camp?

Within the online application you will be prompted to complete additional applications if you have more than one child are applying to attend Operation Purple camp. Some of your contact information will be transferred from the first application to subsequent applications. If you want to register a sibling at a later time, go back to the registration page, login, and add a camper. The application will require that you use the same parent/guardian contact when completing secondary applications.


How do I know that my application has been successfully processed?

Upon successful completion of your application you should see a message that states "You have successfully completed the application. Thank you for applying." In addition you will receive two confirmation emails to the email address you have provided. Please add OPC@MilitaryFamily.org to your list of safe email senders to avoid confirmation emails being placed in spam or junk folders. If you do not receive the confirmation messages, please inquire about your application by email at OPC@MilitaryFamily.org.


Is there an Operation Purple camp for children with special needs?

Upon acceptance, all camp families are asked to complete registration forms that will ask for additional information about your child. This information is requested to ensure that camp locations offer a safe and enjoyable camp experience for your child and the other children in attendance. The National Military Family Association's Operation Purple program and its host camps do not discriminate against children with special needs. While some of our camp locations can easily adapt to special needs, not all camps can. Due to terrain or the activities offered, a camp may be unable to accommodate a child with certain special needs. We encourage parents to fully disclose all needs with camps prior to the start of camp. Camps that are not fully equipped to handle campers with extreme needs may request that children be picked up early by the parent or guardian for the child’s safety. Communication between parents/guardians and the camp are crucial to determine safety and medical accommodations that the camp can make before the camper arrives at camp. Ultimately, camper attendance is determined by the conversation of accommodation between the camp and parent/guardian.   


My child attended Operation Purple camp in the past; can I apply again this year?

Yes, however priority is given to children that are currently experiencing a deployment and have not had the chance to attend an Operation Purple camp. Due to a limited number of spots, we highly encourage families with children who have never attended Operation Purple camp to apply.


My child is a military child. Is he/she guaranteed a spot at Operation Purple camp?

No applicant is guaranteed a spot at camp. Priority is given to military children who will experience a phase of deployment between the months of September 2013 and December 2014. This deployment experience “window” catches those children whose service member parent is preparing for deployment, is currently deployed, or has recently returned home from deployment. Depending on location, some camps may experience a high volume of applicants that meet the requirement for selection. In these circumstances, applicants may be placed on a wait list due to other selection criteria.


My child is just outside of the age range of the Operation Purple camp I want him/her to attend. Can I still apply?

Operation Purple host camps plan age appropriate activities and events, and assign counselors based on approved kid/counselor ratios. In most cases, exceptions cannot be made. However, host camps make the final decision to accept a child close to their age range and these decisions are made on a case by case basis. Contact the camp to discuss your situation. Keep in mind that the Operation Purple program accepts campers between the ages of 7 and 17. No campers younger than 7 or older than 17 will be accepted regardless of the circumstance. For camp contact information camp click here.


The online registration system is showing a wait time. What can I do?

Due to the high volume of people attempting to apply for Operation Purple camp there are times during the day when the online registration may show long wait times. If this occurs please come back and complete your application at a later time. Operation Purple camp attendees are not selected on a first-come, first-served basis.



Registration + Notification

Are Operation Purple campers picked on a first come first serve basis?

Campers are NOT selected on a first come first serve basis. Selections are made after the application time period has closed. Camper selections are based on the National Military Family Association’s specific guidelines. PLEASE REMEMBER: Applications will be accepted February 24  through March 24.


If my child is accepted to camp, where do I send my completed Operation Purple camp registration forms?

All registration forms MUST be sent directly to the host camp where your child has been accepted. Please make sure all of your paperwork is filled out completely and that all information is correct before mailing to the camp. Please do not send your registration paperwork to the National Military Family Association. For camp contact information camp click here.


My child did not get accepted to Operation Purple camp but my neighbor's children did, how is this possible?

Operation Purple campers are selected based on the age of the child, whether a child has experienced a deployment or pre- or post-deployment between September 2013 and December 2014, on military branch of service of the parent to ensure that the program is “purple," and whether a child has had the chance to attend Operation Purple camp before. If you would like more detailed information about your child’s status please contact the camp directly.


My child got accepted to attend Operation Purple camp! What do I do now?

Once a camper has been accepted to attend Operation Purple camp the host camp will follow up with you regarding the necessary registration materials and pertinent camp information. Depending on the dates when your camp is hosting Operation Purple camp they may contact you immediately as a follow up then wait until camp is closer to provide you with additional information. If you have immediate questions please contact them directly using the camp contact information located on the Operation Purple website.


What happens if I don't submit my child's registration forms on time?

Due to the limited number of camper spaces, deadlines for registration forms will be strictly enforced. This allows campers on lengthy wait lists the opportunity to immediately fill openings as they become available. Not submitting forms on time could lead to the loss of your child’s camp space. Please contact the host camp directly if you have questions about the registration forms. Contact information for the host camps can be found here.


When will I find out if my child has been accepted to attend Operation Purple camp?

All Operation Purple camp applicants will receive notice of their status via email no later than six weeks after the camp application closes. Please add OPC@militaryfamily.org to your list of safe senders. If you did not receive a notice, please be sure to check your spam filters or junk email boxes for a camp notice. If you still did not receive a camp notice please contact the camp directly regarding your child’s status.


Who handles the Operation Purple camper selection process?

Operation Purple host camps handle the selection process based on our criteria. Host camps make selections based on, the age of the child, whether a child has experienced a deployment or pre- or post-deployment between September 2013 and December 2014, military branch of service of the parent to ensure that the program is “purple" and whether a child has had the chance to attend Operation Purple camp before. This ensures that all children have a chance to have the Operation Purple camp experience. The National Military Family Association does not make or influence camper selections.


Why do I have to fill out camp forms?

Accepted campers are required to complete camp registration forms in order to provide the host camp with necessary information about your child. The information on these forms helps the camp prepare for your child’s stay and most importantly helps ensure the well-being of your child while attending camp. Camper’s acceptance status is not considered complete until all required forms are submitted. If the completed forms are not received, your child’s acceptance may be canceled and given to another military child on the waiting list. All required forms must be sent directly to the Operation Purple host camp and not to the National Military Family Association.



"Hold My Spot" Deposit 

Can we donate our “Hold My Spot” deposit to the Operation Purple program?

Of course you can! Simply let your child’s camp know that you would like to donate your deposit to the Operation Purple program and they will forward it to our Association for donation back into the program. If you would like to donate to the National Military Family Association or Operation Purple camp in other ways you can do so by clicking here.


I thought Operation Purple camp was free? Why do we have to pay a deposit?

Operation Purple camp is free for those children that are accepted to camp. A “Hold My Spot” deposit is required to secure your child’s spot at camp. Checks are collected by host camps, held in a secure location, and returned to you when the camper checks-in. There is no financial burden for campers who attend camp or cancel within two weeks of their camp start date. Checks will be forwarded to the National Military Family Association for processing ONLY in the event that you do not give a three-week notice to the host camp that your child will not be attending or do not show for camp.


What is a "Hold My Spot" deposit?

A "Hold My Spot" deposit is a refundable deposit that will hold your child’s space at camp. It will be refunded to you unless you do not cancel three weeks before the start of camp or do not show up to camp. A $25 personal or cashier’s check is required per child (max of $50 per family) to complete a camper’s registration. This check must be made payable to the National Military Family Association and have the child’s name listed on the memo line. Your check should be mailed or provided to the Operation Purple camp your child will be attending along with their registration forms. Please note that should your child attend camp or cancel within the time allowed your check will not be cashed and will be returned to you.




Can children of veteran service members apply to Operation Purple camp?

The answer depends on the veteran’s status. Children of retirees (either 20+yrs or medical) are welcome to apply to Operation Purple; however, they must fit within the 15 month deployment window to be accepted to camp. Children of service members who completed their time in service but did not retire are not eligible to attend Operation Purple camp.


My child's brother/sister/aunt/uncle/ etc. is in the military and currently deployed. Can my child attend Operation Purple camp?

We understand that there are many children that have loved ones serving in the military and are often serving in harm’s way. Unfortunately, at this time, only children with a parent or guardian in the service are eligible to apply to Operation Purple Camp.


My husband/wife is a Department of Defense Civilian Employee deployed in support of OIF/OEF. Can my child attend Operation Purple camp?

Operation Purple camps are exclusive to military children in part because elements of the program focus on the shared experiences of military family life. At this time we do not have the capacity to support children whose DoD civilian parent is current deployed and they will not be accepted to camp.


Who is eligible to attend Operation Purple Camp?

Operation Purple camps are open to military children from all service branches including National Guard and Reserve, Coast Guard, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Services. However, priority is given to those children who have or will have a parent or guardian deployed during a 15 month deployment “window” (specific dates announced each year); this includes pre-, during and post-deployment phases. If all spaces are not filled with campers who meet the deployment criteria, the remaining camp slots are filled with any DEERS-eligible military child. Children of retired military personnel are eligible if the service member was deployed at any time during the current deployment “window” before retirement.




My child needs to fly/go by bus to an Operation Purple camp. Can arrangements be made to pick him/her up?

Please contact your child's Operation Purple camp directly, prior to making travel arrangements, to determine whether or not they are able to accommodate your child’s travel needs. For camp contact information camp click here.


Why are there fewer camp locations this year?

Operation Purple Camps are free to military kids; we do not receive any government funding to cover the cost of the program nor are we affiliated with the Department of Defense. However, due to budget constraints, the National Military Family Association was forced to reduce the number of camp locations for the 2014 season. The Association considered several key factors, such as proximity of camps in relation to the need within an area, military family support efforts that already exist within given communities, and the deployment cycles or trends in certain communities when deciding where Operation Purple camps were most needed.

Host camps go through a rigorous selection process. We are pleased to offer the best camping experience possible to your child.  The National Military Family Association is excited that the Operation Purple program is continuing this year and hope to see your child at camp.


Why isn't there an Operation Purple camp near me?

Operation Purple host camp locations are selected based on five major factors: the need within their military community, the deployment cycles of the troops in the community, location, ability to be “purple” and serve more than one branch of the military, and the ability of the host camp to implement the Operation Purple curriculum. We do our best to have camps throughout the country in an effort to make camp accessible to as many children as possible. If you do not have an Operation Purple camp in your state, please feel free to apply to a camp in another state of your choosing. 


Will the National Military Family Association provide travel arrangements or reimbursements?

The National Military Family Association does not reimburse for travel expenses to camp or provide transportation. Camps are in 13 states this summer; we encourage you to apply to the camp nearest you.  



Waitlists + Cancellations 

My child has been placed on the “wait list,” what is the likelihood he/she will get to attend camp?

The best way to check on your wait list status is to contact the camp directly. We will not know what the likelihood of your child being accepted is until all acceptance notifications have been sent out.


What do I do if I need to cancel my child's attendance to camp?

As soon as you know your child will not be able to attend camp, contact the camp directly. If you fail to notify the camp at least three weeks before camp start date, your “Hold My Spot” deposit will be forwarded to the National Military Family Association for processing and your child will be ineligible to participate in future Operation Purple programs. For camp contact information camp, click here.



Volunteer Opportunities

I would like to help. Can I volunteer at an Operation Purple camp near me?

There are many Operation Purple camp locations that welcome volunteers. Please contact the Operation Purple camp of interest to you directly and inquire about their volunteer opportunities. To access camp contact information, please click here. The National Military Family Association also offers additional opportunities to volunteer and serve military families. Please visit the "Volunteer" section of our website for more information about volunteer opportunities.



Packing List

What does a generic Operation Purple Camp Packing List look like?

Although each Operation Purple camp will have their own site specific packing list, below is a basic list of items typically needed by campers while attending camp:

  • A picture of their deployed service member*
  • sleeping bag or bedding
  • beach towel 
  • bug spray and sunblock
  • cotton underwear
  • socks
  • pants, comfortable for hiking and/or jeans
  • shorts, comfortable for hiking 
  • heavy sweater or fleece pullover
  • t-shirts & long sleeved t-shirts
  • sweatshirt & sweatpants
  • one-piece bathing suit or swim trunks
  • sneakers, sturdy hiking boots & rubber-soled sport sandals
  • rain jacket
  • soap, shampoo & conditioner
  • lotion & lip balm
  • comb or brush
  • wash cloths and towels (1 swim, 1 bath)
  • toothbrush & toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • laundry bag
  • hat & sunglasses
  • flashlight or headlamp with batteries
  • letter writing materials & stamps

*A picture of a deployed service member is required for your child to complete an Operation Purple specific activity. If you do not have a printed picture, check with your child’s camp to see if they have the ability to accept an electronic photo in either a .JPG or .GIF form.

Campers will generally receive a camp packing list within their registration forms. If you have not received a packing list for your camper please contact the camp directly. For camp contact information camp click here.



  Print Print


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

Sign Up

Sign up to receive periodic eNews and alerts.

Please leave this field empty


Want up-to-date information and a community of people that care about military families?

Facebook Icon 2013

Twitter Icon 2013

Flickr Icon 2013