Extension News

Iowa 4-H Center Offers Free Summer Camp to Military Kids


AMES, Iowa - The Iowa 4-H Center will host one of 22 Operation Purple Camps offered in 18 states to serve children whose parents are deployed with the U.S. Armed Forces.

Made possible by the National Military Family Association (NMFA) and Sears, Roebuck and Co., the summer camps are funded through the Sears American Dream Campaign, a $100 million commitment to strengthen families, homes and communities.

Operation Purple Camps provide children from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces with fun and memorable opportunities to learn new skills for coping with deployment-related stress ("purple" is a military term representing inclusion of all branches).

Applications for the camps will be available April 15 through May 15 on the NMFA Web site at http://www.nmfa.org. Sears, Roebuck's funding enables children to attend the camps at no charge.

Purple Camp Iowa runs July 10 to 15 at the Iowa 4-H Center, a 1,100 acre site of wooded bluff and native prairie near Madrid. Camp enrollment will be open to military children within a 250-mile radius. The camp includes activities such as high ropes, a climbing wall, creek walks, campfire circles, skits and community service.

The camp also will have access to Iowa's Operation Military Kids (OMK) mobile technology lab, according to Chris Gleason, Iowa State University Extension 4-H youth development liaison to OMK.

Other fun activities scheduled during the week include pool parties, learning GPS navigation skills, arts and crafts and photography, according to Traci Haselhuhn, 4-H camp program specialist.

NMFA first offered 12 Operation Purple camps in 2004, serving some 1,000 children of deployed parents. This year's program will reach another 2,000 kids of the more than 135,000 children of soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

"Operation Purple Summer Camps fulfills a critical need in the military community," said Candace Wheeler, chief executive officer of NMFA. "We are thrilled to be able to expand the program this year."

Interested children should apply for the camp located nearest their home. Other states offering camps include Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.

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Contacts :

Chris Gleason, 4-H Military Liaison, (515) 294-1557, cgleason@iastate.edu

Traci Haselhuhn, Youth Campus Director, (515) 795-3338, tracidh@iastate.edu

Carol Ouverson, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-9640, couverso@iastate.edu