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While They Serve
By Edie Melson

Camps for Military Kids and Families

Kids in military families face special challenges.

There are the deployments, the moves, everything related to those stressful circumstances. Military kids grow up knowing what it means to serve an idea greater than self. Sometimes that knowledge can make it harder to connect with others their own age. In spite of the life of self-sacrifice their parents have chosen, they’re still kids at heart.

That’s where camp comes in.

This past week, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Gregg Hunter, CEO of Christian Camp & Conference Association, who shared suggestions for military kids and families around the country. Some of these offer camp at a reduced rate, others offer a totally free experience. Since it’s not an exhaustive list, I encourage you to contact local camps. Many of them may have similar programs.

CRISTA Operation Xtreme Camp for Military Kids
Island Lake: Poulsbo, WA
Miracle Ranch: Port Orchard, WA
In addition to the usual camping experience, this free, weeklong camp is designed specifically to answer some of these kids' needs. Included are time-honored military traditions such as:

  • Flag ceremony taught by a visiting general
  • Memorial table set up for every meal in the dining hall
  • Military coin to commemorate the experience

Sandy Cove
Northeast, MD
This camp focuses on reconnecting military families who have been separated by deployment. It offers a five-night stay as a free gift for military families, including meals and recreation.

Mount Hermon
Near Santa Cruz, CA
On offer are several different programs for military families:

  • Camp for a family whose husband/wife is still deployed in harm’s way.
  • Help for families reconnecting after reuniting from deployment.
  • A special time for a family whose husband/wife is soon to be deployed in harm’s way.

Mount Hermon is in a peaceful setting, with comfortable accommodations and superb meals. All activities are included, and there is no charge for these military families.

Forest Home
Forest Falls, CA
With military rates for families so they can get away from everyday distractions. It also provides a place for our troops to get to the core issues they are facing at a deeper level, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital and family issues.

Officers’ Christian Fellowship
Officers’ Christian Fellowship seeks to help Christians in the military society and their families grow together in their relationship with God and others, and to unite them in biblical fellowship and outreach.

  • White Sulphur Springs, PA
    Having entered into a partnership with The Hillary Fund, this location provides military dependent, special needs children with the opportunity to attend family camp. This is an application-based scholarship fund.
  • Spring Canyon, CO
    Offering multiple opportunities for military families to retreat and grow in an environment that understands the special stresses in that community. Generations of military leaders have been encouraged, emboldened and equipped to live out their faith through the ministry of OCF and Spring Canyon.

Gregg reminded me that because of the changes in communications between the front-line and the families at home, kids are now drawn deeper into the battlefield experience. These camps give military kids a place where they can hang out with others who speak their language and understand the stresses they face.

Now it’s your turn. Can you add to our list of opportunities for military kids?

Blessings,
Edie

Photo credit: Courtesy of CRISTA Operation Xtreme Camp for Military Kids

Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.