Camp K prepares to welcome dozens of campers from military families

Camp K prepares to welcome dozens of campers from military families
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 5:13 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Since 2011, a truly Alaskan camp has been partnering up with the National Military Family Association for “Operation Purple,” a free camp for military youth.

Camp K: Campfire is available for youth between the ages of 6 and 17, spanning from across Alaska and Lower 48. All campers share one specific concept in common.

“They’re all part of a family that’s either in a current deployment cycle or a recent deployment cycle or soon to be deployed,” camp director Evan Taylor said. “This idea of connecting kids with other kids that have a similar experience but might come from a very diverse or different background is huge in their social/emotional learning and growing as young adults.”

During the week of June 4 through June 9, the camp will be opening its grounds for Operation Purple. That full camp week will be dedicated specifically to military youth and will feature typical camp activities in addition to a specialized curriculum provided by NMFA.

“We are doing very specific military family youth activities,” Taylor said. “So, things like connecting how many times they’ve been to different schools.”

One of those activities includes asking campers to bring in a photo of their military parent. Together, campers share stories about their parents and place the photo on an inclusive wall known as the “Hero Wall.”

The camp activities, Taylor said, help campers build relationships with other kids who are going through similar experiences in their lives.

“We have an opportunity to just, I don’t know, share an experienced connection in a really unique way,” Taylor said.

Sometimes, those similar experiences can bring up hard emotions, Taylor said. The association provides the camp with a licensed mental health therapist to help navigate tough conversations and emotions that youngsters may have around topics such as deployment.

Taylor said Alaska’s Camp K specifically strives to help children transition into the Alaska lifestyle. She said many military youths may have relocated from the Lower 48 and are still getting used to the outdoors in Alaska.

“What I’ve noticed in their youth is that there is an interest, but not a whole lot of support or time,” Taylor said. “So that’s one piece, is to connect them with where they live.”

The session has room for only 88 campers. So far, Taylor said, they have had interest from 200 campers, but she encourages families to sign up to be on the camp’s waitlist, where she said they will often pull from to grab campers.

Families can sign up on the NMFA website.