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Written by: Jason Jowers, MS, MFT

Summertime is here! The school year is currently wrapping up for many families and communities, and kids are about to be let loose for another fun-filled summer. The question is: what to do with all that free time during the summer months? How about summer camp? Summer camps are a great way for kids and teens to learn new things, meet new friends, and participate in fun, outdoor activities.

For kids and teens from military families, there are tons of great camps out there just for milkids. One such camp experience is Military Teen Adventure Camps. Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with 4-H programs and Purdue University, Military Teen Adventure Camps are currently available in 7 states across the country. These camps are for military teens between the ages of 13-18 years old whose parents/guardians are active-duty military, Guard, Reservist, and retired military personnel. The adventure camps are offered at little to no cost for military families.

What activities can teens expect at these camps? All sorts of fun, outdoor activities from whitewater rafting, rock climbing and hiking, interactive rope courses, and practicing life-saving wilderness skills. Each camp provides a unique experience for military teens that can instill self-confidence, leadership skills, and teamwork skills. View camps by date for the 2024 summer break and see which camps are close to you. Also, there is funding available to assist families with the transportation costs to these camps. Be sure and view the camps by location to get registration and contact information.

Another great camp option for military kids is the Armed Services YMCA summer camps. These camps are located in many states across the country. Visit their website for more locations based on or near military bases and installations, as well as YMCA affiliate programs and services for military families. The YMCA summer camps are usually free or offered at a very low cost.

The benefits of military kid summer camps also include expanding food security and providing delicious, nutritious meals, and promoting healthy and socially connected activities for youth. For more on bolstering food security for military families, be sure and watch the archived recording of our OneOp webinar, “Supporting Military Teens: Community Healthy Living and Food Security Programs.” This webinar showcases presenters at Georgia 4-H to describe the benefits and importance of addressing food security and health initiatives within communities. Free CE credits are still available!

The overall goal of summer camps is to get kids outside and involved in healthy activities. These activities can help bolster prevention efforts, such as activities to reduce childhood obesity and promote positive mental well-being. To find out more about the efforts to get military families outside and experience the benefits of nature and quality family time, you can view the on-demand OneOp webinar, “Improving Health and Wellness by Getting Outside.”

Finally, for more summer camp options, Military OneSource provides a list of approved Defense Department Summer Camps. Keep these ideas in mind when promoting healthy and socially connected activities for military kids and teens this summer and all year long.

Photo by: Elenabsl on Adobe Stock