How to Apply for Operation Purple Camps in 2021

operation purple camp
Military children have the opportunity to apply for Operation Purple Summer Camp each summer. (Nyia Patton/U.S. Army National Guard)

Military kids are used to changing plans, which gave them a leg up over their classmates last summer when summer camps came to a screeching halt. Luckily for them, Operation Purple came through with a virtual camp option in 2020. This year, Operation Purple presents two options for military kids: the traditional overnight camp and a virtual option.

Operation Purple Camp

Operation Purple Camp is a traditional summer camp, presented by the National Military Family Association, and got its name because purple symbolizes all who serve -- combining the green, blues and red of the various branches.

Campers experience outdoor activities from ropes courses to swimming and archery to arts and crafts. Your military kid will enjoy a full week of fun and friendships. During these free, weeklong camps, military kids from around the country gather together and forge friendships in a way that only military kids can.

There are fewer locations this year than in the past, but camps are available in 11 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. These camps run for one week, starting on Sundays and running through Friday or Saturday. The dates for camps start July 4, run through August and are dependent on the location.

Kids can apply to only one type of camp this year, the traditional in-person or the at-home option. The application process is open to kids ages 6 to 17, with the age range depending on each camp location. Children only can apply to one location each year.

Operation Purple Camp at Home

If your kid isn't ready for a week away at camp or you're not sure where you'll be this summer, there is another option. After last year's virtual camp, Operation Purple is bringing back "camp in a box."

At home camp will run July 12-16 and is open to kids ages 7-14. Before camp week starts, campers will receive a box full of fun and the gear needed to complete each day's activities. There also will be virtual experiences to bring some activities to life. At home campers will learn about fire building and safety, navigation, environmental education and much more.

Ready to Register?

Ready to apply for a spot for your military kid? Registration opened on April 19 for the 2021 Operation Purple Camps.

If your children have a parent in the National Guard, Reserve, any uniformed service or the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Public Health Service, they can apply.

According to the website, preference is given to children with a parent who was wounded, ill or injured during service, have been deployed or are deploying within 18 months of May 2021. If your child attended in the past, they still can apply, but those who haven't attended will receive preference.

Begin the application process here.

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