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Here’s a list of camps, activities, and ideas to keep kids busy all summer long. The world is opening up, and that means it's time to start looking for ways to get out and explore! For military families new to installations this summer, that might be a little difficult since you might not be sure what's available to you at your local installation. Don't worry! We compiled a list of Department of Defense camps, partnerships, and other ideas to help keep the kids entertained this summer!
All descriptions are taken from the camp websites and do not indicate any LMH endorsement. Some camps might be pending at the time of publication due to the shifting nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Always carefully vet any camp you're considering for your children to ensure its safety.
"Helping youth find their voice - through Narrative Writing, Reporting and Broadcast, Songwriting, Film making, Cowboy Poetry, and Digital Storytelling. It is all about creative expression. For military youth and service members, writing, journaling, and digital storytelling are focused on helping each service member work through the issues each face.
The next generation of a traditional summer camp for boys and girls ages 11-17. Our Cabins roll and our Camp moves. Our Campers and Guides explore some of the most magnificent parks in the world - all right here in America. We offer four distinct two-week sessions exploring 34 Parks in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
Children of Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, Retired, and Former Service members are all eligible to apply for scholarships.
Summer Day Camps - Each summer, the Armed Services YMCA works to provide day camp activities to military children at Camp Pendleton. Offering week-long day camps from local community YMCAs and other community organizations. Low-cost YMCA Summer Overnight Camp! Deadline April 15th! Please pre-register and follow the steps to sign up!
Camp Flashhh - Each Summer, our branch supports the Marine Corps' Exceptional Family Members Program and special needs children at Camp Pendleton with Camp Flashhh (Families Laughing and Sharing Hugs, Hope, and Happiness). Camp Flashhh provides field trip opportunities for families from June through August. Please contact your EFMP caseworker for further information.
Camp Hero (Offered at Deluz Family Housing) - Camp Hero is a low-cost camp for military children ages 6-12. With an emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, art, and mathematics), Camp Hero provides military children with an opportunity to make new friends, explore, and express their creativity. Camp Hero is offered a total of 3 weeks out of the summer and will encompass weekly themes, indoor and outdoor activities, and local on-base field trips.
Horse of the Sun Ranch is an Armed Services YMCA San Diego program that provides an array of equestrian and respite activities. We are principally focused on healing the spirits of military families and at-risk youth. Our programs include various equestrian and non-equestrian physical activities that enhance the experiences through immersion in natural settings.
Camps and camping opportunities offered throughout the year at our branches and affiliate locations continue to be one of ASYMCA's most popular programs. Camps encourage healthy living as part of our core mission of strengthening our military family and provide much-needed recreational and bonding opportunities for military children and families who have experienced multiple deployments.
The mission of Camp Corral is to transform the lives of children of wounded, injured, ill, and fallen military heroes by providing a unique summer camp experience.
The vision behind Camp Corral is where kids, ages 8 to 15, are free to be kids, far away from the day-to-day challenges they face as children of military service members and veterans. Camp Corral has proven to be a "week of a lifetime," providing kids non-stop fun with activities like canoeing, swimming, fishing, arts and crafts, ropes course challenges, horseback riding, and more. Campers have the priceless opportunity to connect with other kids who understand the unique challenges of military life.
Would you like to spend time whitewater rafting, hiking, rock climbing, winter camping, backpacking, exploring the environment, running ropes courses, or practicing wilderness skills? What if you could do these activities with other military youth just like you?
Military teens (14-18 years old of Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, and Retired personnel) will have an opportunity to participate in adventure camps at little to no cost. These high-energy, high adventure, and high-experience camps are planned across the United States from Washington to New York and the states in between. This is the perfect chance for you to experience the outdoors as you never have before!
Each camp offers a unique outdoor experience that will allow you to build your leadership, self-confidence, and teamwork skills while engaging with the outdoors. In addition, camps have funding available to assist with transportation costs.
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.
Operation Teammate partners with collegiate and professional sports organizations to hold events where military children become honorary teammates for the day. These impactful athlete interactions are a fun-filled day of mentorship, games, and activities to recognize the military child for their sacrifice and also their resilience, bravery, and strength.
Other opportunities for military children and teens
Would you like to honor and serve America? Do you want to prepare for your future while making new friends? Then rise to the challenge of cadet membership in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol.
Cadets fly, learn to lead, hike, camp, get in shape, and push themselves to new limits. If you're dreaming about a career in aviation, space, or the military, CAP's Cadet Program is for you.
To become a cadet, you must be at least 12 years old and not yet 19 years old.
Cadets meet 2 hours per week and one Saturday per month, on average, and also have opportunities to attend leadership encampments, career academies, and other activities during the summer.
The Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) is for American youth ages 13-17 who have a desire to learn about the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine. Sea Cadets are authorized by the Secretary of the Navy to wear Navy uniforms appropriately marked with the Sea Cadet Corps insignia. The objectives of the Sea Cadet program are to introduce youth to naval life, develop in them a sense of pride, patriotism, courage, and self-reliance, and maintain an environment free of drugs and gangs.
The Navy League Cadet Corps (NLCC) is for boys and girls, at least ten but not yet 14 years old, who are interested in the sea and ships and our nation's seagoing services. The Navy League program is designed to introduce young people to maritime and military life and to prepare them for later entrance into the Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through high school completion. The Young Marines promote the mental, moral, and physical development of their members. The program focuses on character building, leadership and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.
Free and Discounted Summer Resources
Below is a list of free and discounted activities available all year round. From geocaching to museums and national parks, there's definitely something on this list for everyone - even adults!
Free audiobooks downloadable as an mp3, iPod, or iTunes format.
Children are eligible to register for two free games all summer long. Some restrictions might apply.
Crafts + Workshops
Michaels offers fun and inexpensive in-store craft events and activities for children.
Free kids workshops and how-to clinics are designed for children between the ages of 5 and 12. Workshops are offered on the first Saturday of each month.
Free clinics are offered on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. Registration before the event is required.
Geocaching is a treasure hunt game that uses GPS to track and discover items. Locate hidden containers already located in your neighborhood! Suitable for all ages, GPS is required to participate.
Like Geocaching, Letterboxing combines navigational skills and a treasure hunt to create a unique and intriguing experience. Suitable for all ages.
Completely free and suitable for all ages. Learn a new language this summer and practice as much as you want!
Many museums around the country offer free and discounted tickets for military families. Blue Star Museums curates a list of museums around the country that offer discounts.
Military families are eligible to receive a free annual pass for America's National Parks. This pass must be obtained in person and requires showing a military identification card.
Catch up on the latest new releases for less money than it costs out in town. Low-cost movie tickets at your installation theater are a great choice for those warm summer days when it seems like there's nothing else to do.
Visit these links for more information:
For more ideas on free and discounted things to do this summer, visit the Military OneSource Recreation Resources page.