Last year I had the opportunity to attend two ‘Operation Purple’ summer camps in North Carolina, one in Hendersonville (in the mountains) and one in Halifax (close to the Virginia border). Both camps were totally different experiences, but we all had a wonderful time at each one.
The Operation Purple program was created in 2004 to fill a need identified by military parents to “help us help our kids.” The mission of the Operation Purple program is “to empower military children and their families to develop and maintain healthy and connected relationships, in spite of the current military environment.” When it began in the 2004, the National Military Family Association began implementing 12 Operation Purple camps serving close to 1,000 children. Now close to 40,000 military children and teens will have been served.
On the days I attended, both included a salute to the military. It was so amazing to see these children having a great time getting their minds off of their parents’ deployments and just being kids. They also had Military One Source counselors there who helped the children if they need someone to talk to. The kids were from all different branches, and some had even attended the previous year so they were excited to see the friends they had made again.
Hendersonville’s Camp Tekoa was hidden away in the mountains. It was a traditional camp with cabins, lots of nature, green trees, a zip line, and a river. It was almost pristine, and I loved it there. The kids were from all over the eastern seaboard, some from as far away as Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida. The camp director had the schedule packed full of exciting activities, including white water rafting, making a living circle, cooking, horse back riding, and more.
The Halifax retreat was at a 4-H camp site. It was a little different, and the camp was in a historic school building, but they had day trips planned every day of the week and it a lot of fun. For Military Day, they had static displays of military vehicles, a helicopter landing, and big trucks from the Army Corps of Engineers.The children here were also from all over the southeast, and they all got along so well together. The older teen kids made lunch (sloppy joes) and it was great.
Donations for Operation Purple are now supporting their 2011 camps. Please direct donation questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.