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Defense Department Summer Camps


Have some activities planned to keep your children and teens busy, engaged and having fun when school lets out? Defense Department summer camps may 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 youth. Make it a summer to remember by checking out these potential camping experiences.

Teen adventure and science camps

There are teen adventure camps, specifically for military preteens and teens available across the United States, from Washington to New York. These camps can be a great option for a teen interested in adding some excitement to their summer. Understand that:

  • Youth ages 10-18 can enjoy adventure camps partnered with private organizations around the country.
  • There are multiple camps to choose from.

Camps include fantastic wilderness excursions like sailing, kayaking and survival camps.

Available camps include:

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 their leadership and teamwork skills as well as self-confidence. Camp activities include:

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


These 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.


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


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


Other types of camps include:

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


The Armed Services YMCA offers Operation Camp, fun and educational day and residential camps that encourage healthy living and recreation. These camps offer opportunities for military 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 equip them with tools and resources to better handle the challenges of military life.


Installation camps

Almost all military installations offer summer camps for different 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 children need.

  • Military life can be challenging for military youth, and summer camps provide a safe space while teaching skills to navigate the ups and downs.
  • Your child can build a support network of other military youth who may have similar experiences.

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 for your child and teen and check out military youth and teen programs available at your installation or through military partnerships.

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