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Georgia 4-H offers free camps for military children By Sharon Dowdy

Georgia 4-H is offering a free summer camp to children who have a parent serving in the military. Operation Purple Camp is designed to help students deal with the stresses involved with having a parent deployed overseas.

“Each morning, thousands of children across Georgia have a parent missing from the breakfast table,” said Amanda Parnell, coordinator of the camp. “While one parent is serving breakfast at home, the other is serving in the military across the world.”

Helping children deal with stress

Operation Purple Camp was developed by the National Military Family Association to help support America’s military children, especially those with a parent who is, will or has been deployed, she said.

“Georgia military kids who attend the summer camp will learn skills to cope with the stress of deployment,” she said. “They will also be spending time making friends with other military kids who are also missing their mom or dad.”

Two sessions, two locations

Georgia 4-H will offer two sessions of Operation Purple Camp this summer.

The first session will be held at Fortson 4-H Center in Hampton, Ga., on May 30 through June 3 for youth ages 10 through 12. Campers will participate in a service project and visit Stone Mountain and the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Like traditional 4-H’ers, the campers will also do camp activities like archery, swimming, hiking and zooming down a zip line.

The second camp week will be held at Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island, Ga., on July 11 through 15 for youth ages 10 through 12. Tybee Island campers will also participate in a service-related project. And, they will explore local marshes and discover marine life with other Georgia military kids.

Both weeks of camp will feature special military displays and visits from military personnel who will discuss deployment with the campers.

“Georgia 4-H has a strong partnership with Georgia’s military population including each of the state’s installations as well as the National Guard and Reserves,” said Georgia State 4-H Acting Leader Arch Smith. “Our military camps are a way we can provide a positive youth development experience for youth that serve our nation, too.”

Last year, some 700 military families and youth participated in a Georgia 4-H camping program specifically designed for military families.

Register online

Registration for Operation Purple Camp opens March 15 at www.operationpurple.org. Each camp session is open to children of service members of any branch of U.S. military, active duty National Guard or Reserve, as well as children of members of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

Georgia 4-H is able to offer the camps free of charge to all eligible children thanks to a partnership with the Sierra Club and Sierra Club Foundation.

To learn more about Georgia 4-H’s military programs, visit www.georgia4h.org/omk. For information on the national program, visit www.MilitaryFamily.org.

(Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

4-H falg raising
4-H falg raising

4-H'ers at Camp Burton on Tybee Island raise the American flag during the 2009 Operation Purple Camp.

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4-H'ers at Camp Burton on Tybee Island raise the American flag during the 2009 Operation Purple Camp. Download Image
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