Tinker youth attend Operation Purple Camp

From left, Alan Van Bruggen, counselor Andie Hart, Forest Lasiter, Michael Davis and Dillan Rackley prepare to raise the flag over Camp Classen. (Photos courtesy of Tinker Youth Center)

From left, Alan Van Bruggen, counselor Andie Hart, Forest Lasiter, Michael Davis and Dillan Rackley prepare to raise the flag over Camp Classen. (Photos courtesy of Tinker Youth Center)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- As the sun rises over YMCA Camp Classen in Davis, Okla. recently, 75 eager youth ages 10 to 15 are ready to begin their first day of a week-long camping adventure.
   Operation Purple Camp Oklahoma is hosted by the Tinker Youth Center. The campers from Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri and Oklahoma are military youth whose parent or family member is deployed or preparing to deploy.
   "Operation Purple is about making new friends, new experiences such as kayaking or cooking a hobo dinner over an open fire and learning positive coping skills when faced with the challenge of a deployment," said Michele Robertson, youth center director.
   Like most summer camps, Operation Purple is a time for children to make new friends, build lasting friendships, learn new skills, have fun and share their feelings with others. Campers also get a better insight into military life and dealing with deployment issues, officials said.
   "Operation Purple Camp Oklahoma continues to grow by exceeding our number of campers, counselors and activities offered," said Mindy Whittington, camp director. "We want all of our campers to have life-long memories of their many different experiences at camp such as eating (meals ready to eat), camouflage face painting, crafts, horseback riding, target sports, outdoor living and water sports."
   The Operation Purple Camp program was developed by the National Military Family Association due to the increased need to support military children. The camp here is one of 34 summer camps in 26 states. This camp is free to any child whose parent is part of the seven branches of military personnel including National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and United States Public Health Service plus the National Guard and Reserve. More information about Operation Purple is available at www.nmfa.org.