Throughout the summer, Kanuga is filled with campers from across the country. In late July, though, something truly special happens. Camp Bob takes a patriotic turn and transforms into Operation Purple welcoming children whose parents are serving in the military.
Organized by the National Military Family Association, the camp is open to youth ages 7 to 18. It provides a rare chance to forget about the worry and stress that often occurs with deployment and military life.
“It’s an opportunity for children whose parents are in the military to come together and be away from daily stresses at home,” says Katherine Parnell, director of Camp Bob. “It gives them the opportunity to be kids, and it gives us the opportunity to celebrate all the sacrifices they make in serving at home.”
Serving Our Country through Camp
Each session is a week long, and two sessions are offered each summer. Every year, the camp hosts 200 youth, with priority going to children who have never been to camp, whose families are facing deployment, or those dealing with a parent wounded in the line of duty.
While military life counselors, therapy dogs, and military liaisons are on hand to help kids work through tough emotions, the main focus is to fill the campers’ days with fun. Swimming, canoeing, hiking, archery, service projects, and a special closing ceremony complete with a t-shirt signing and commemorative dog tags make this an incredibly special time.
Kanuga camp staff frequently hear back from campers and their families once they return home with letters and e-mails praising the program.
Ensuring the Future of Operation Purple
Operation Purple is unique in many ways, starting with the fact that it is completely free to attend. Tuitions are paid through a collection of scholarships and grants. This year, the camp is facing a unique challenge.
The National Military Family Association does not have the money to fund two full weeks of camp. Approximately 100 children will be unable to attend if we cannot raise additional funds.
After years of hosting Operation Purple, Kanuga recognizes the importance of this program and the lasting impact it has on campers. Our staff is actively working to secure additional funds through a series of grants and fundraising efforts. Our hope is to create a system of sustainable funding.
However, your immediate help is needed to ensure we can continue to offer two weeks of camp this summer. By building an army of Kanuga donors, we can make up the shortfall the National Military Family Association is facing. A donation of $578 provides an entire week at camp for one child. Through donations large and small, we can make an impact and win the battle for the youngest members of military families.
To make a secure donation online, go to giving.kanuga.org and in the “Gift Designation” area, select Kanuga Pathfinders (scholarship assistance). In the Comment area, please write “For Operation Purple Camp.”