Military families can tap into terrific programs and services — from extensive digital libraries and teen camps to resources that make moves easier. Take a look at these top resources for helping your military children grow strong, make friends and enjoy the adventure side of military life.

Military Teen Adventure Camps

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 or no cost. Camp activities include whitewater rafting, hiking, rock climbing, ropes courses, winter camping and backpacking. The camps allow teens to build their leadership and teamwork skills as well as self-confidence.

Deployment support camps and resources

Operation Purple® camps and programs give military children a safe place to learn to cope with the emotions and reality of deployment. Operation Purple® campers get to take a break from the stressors leading up to, during or following deployment by spending a fun-filled week with other military youth in the same situation.

A variety of camps may be available near you, including camps specifically for military teens or retreats for the entire family. For availability and more information, visit the National Military Family Association website.

Military Kids Connect

Military Kids Connect offers a safe place online where military youth of all age groups can share experiences and talk about what it’s like to be part of a military family. You’ll find:

Read more about how to get the most of Military Kids Connect.

Installation Youth Centers

Youth centers are available on almost every installation where families PCS. In additional to child care for children 6 weeks of age and older and school-age programs available to children in kindergarten to sixth grade, installation youth centers offer dynamic programs for youth ages 13 through 18 years in 300 facilities worldwide. While continuity of programming between installations, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America programs and 4-H clubs, can help your child feel part of the military community and make the transition to a new installation smoother, each youth center varies in programming. Your youth or teen can prepare for new experiences as well. Facilities can offer:

  • Computer labs and game rooms
  • Special field trips
  • Youth sports and fitness programs, including leagues, camps, clinics and instructional format
  • Open recreation times for youth and teens to drop in and hang out with friends
  • Youth development programs, emphasizing leadership and service, education and STEM programs, health and wellness, the arts, and sports and recreation
  • Instructional programs, including gymnastics and martial arts, an assortment of dance classes, and music and theater offerings
  • Music rooms
  • Gymnasiums and fitness rooms
  • Volunteer and employment listings
  • Youth sponsorship

All youth centers are certified by the Defense Department. Read more about military youth and teen programs. Find programs at your installation youth center.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America Military Partnership

For over 30 years, the U.S. Armed Forces has partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help support children of military families ages 6 to 18 with youth development programs, curriculums and activities. These enriching, active and entertaining programs are offered in youth centers and clubs around the country.

  • On installation: Youth centers on installations worldwide are affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs. They offer many of the same programs as traditional clubs, such as Youth of the Year.
  • Off installation: The collaboration allows free membership to a local Boys & Girls Club for active-duty, National Guard and reserve children who do not live near or have access to a military youth center. Check out Mission: Youth Outreach for more information.

All Boys & Girls Clubs are staffed by trained professionals. For more information, read about programs offered through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America partnership or call Boys & Girls Clubs customer service at 404-487-5700.

4-H Military Partnership

4-H Military Partnership brings the resources of land grant universities to military youth programs. These resources include youth development professionals, research-based curricula and high-quality training and technical assistance for installation youth programs staff.

Military youth can join 4-H clubs in their community and also participate in summer camps around the country. 4-H offers a wealth of resources in STEM subjects, healthy living, citizenship, public speaking and other military core program areas providing valuable life skills, curriculum and resources for military youth and teens across the country and around the world.

Mentoring programs

A mentor is an adult your child trusts, admires and respects who provides informal support and guidance and is actively involved in your child’s life. A mentor is not a babysitter, therapist or substitute parent. Contact your installation youth program for mentoring programs available on your installation.

You can also find out if the AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent Program serves your community. To learn more, visit the AmeriCorps website.

Do your homework. Make sure the mentoring program conducts background checks and requires training.

Children and youth behavioral military and family life counselors

The Military and Family Life Counseling Program supports service members, their families and survivors with non-medical counseling worldwide. Child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors understand the issues military children face and can provide personalized support. Reach out to your installation’s youth center to find counseling options available to you and your family.

Military OneSource is here 24/7 to answer your questions about resources to enhance your family’s life. Call 800-342-9647, view international calling options or schedule a live chat.