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Defense Department Summer Camps

Benefit overview

Looking for activities to keep your children and teens busy, engaged and having fun when school lets out? Defense Department summer camps can be a great addition to your child’s summer lineup. A variety of camps are available to provide new experiences for children and teens and to help them connect to other military-connected youth. Make it a summer to remember by checking out these potential camping experiences.

How this benefit helps

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Teen adventure and science camps, specifically for military-connected preteens and teens and available across the United States from Washington to New York, can be a great option for adding some excitement to their summer.

Youth ages 10-18 can enjoy adventure and STEM camps partnered with private organizations around the country, from fantastic wilderness excursions like sailing, kayaking and survival camps to science and technology pursuits. Some camp options include funding to assist with transportation costs.

How to access this benefit

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More information on summer camps is just a click away.

Explore your options below:

Almost all military installations offer summer camps for different age groups. They may include general camps, interest-based camps or deployment camps. To find a camp or summer activity on your installation, visit your installation youth center.

The camaraderie of a camp experience might be just what your military-connected children need.

  • Summer day camps are a natural extension to families using before- and after-school care and activities and provide consistency of programming for military children and youth.
  • Military life can be challenging for military-connected youth, and summer camps provide a welcoming space while teaching skills to navigate the ups and downs.
  • Attending a local camp can help children transitioning to a new installation acclimate to their new home and make new friends before school starts.
  • Your child can build a support network of other military-connected youth who may have similar experiences.


Sponsored in conjunction with Purdue University, Military Teen Adventure Camps offer outdoor experiences for military-connected teens ages 13-18. Children of active-duty, National Guard, reserve and retired service members have the opportunity to participate at little cost or for free.

The camps allow teens to build leadership and teamwork skills and self-confidence. Military Teen Adventure Camps also offer assistance with camp and transportation costs. Camp activities include:

  • Whitewater rafting
  • Hiking
  • Rock climbing
  • Ropes courses
  • Winter camping
  • Backpacking

Visit Military Teen Adventure Camps

DOD STARBASE, offered in dozens of locations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, is designed to engage students through inquiry-based curriculum and “hands-on, minds-on” experiential activities.


For military-connected children and teens, the opportunities abound to engage in a variety of science and technology pursuits through DOD STEM, including exploring robotics, solving real-world problems and working with scientists across DOD laboratories and centers.


4-H Military Partnership camps, hosted in conjunction with a number of land-grant universities, are designed especially for military-connected youth. Check out the 4-H Military Partnership website to find a camp offered near you.

Visit 4-H Military Partnership

Operation Purple® Camp, from the National Military Family Association, brings together military-connected children from all services and offers a family retreat that provides military families a chance to reconnect and bond.

Visit Operation Purple® Camp

The Armed Services YMCA offers fun and educational day and residential camps that encourage healthy living and recreation. These camps offer opportunities for military-connected children to make meaningful connections with peers who also experience the challenges of military life. Serving over 10,000 children each year, these camps help youth build confidence, improve social skills, and provide tools and resources to better handle the challenges of military life. Learn more about the ASYMCA Operation Camp offerings near you.

Visit ASYMCA Operation Camp

If your family’s schedule is too busy to accommodate a full camp this summer, you can still find plenty of activities for children and teens available through your installation youth center. Make the most of military life. Check out military youth and teen programs available at your installation or through military partnerships. Local camps are especially helpful to transitioning children, youth and teens, offering them the opportunity to settle into their community and make new friends.

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