Since 9/11, more than 2 million American men and women have deployed, and 44% are parents.
Children of military families face many challenges. Now there’s a unique camp designed just for military kids to be kids.
Jennifer Malone knows it’s not easy on her two daughters to have a dad in the military.
“For them it’s always the unknown, because they don’t know is he coming, is he going, how long is he going to be gone?" she said.
Then Kaitlin and her younger sister Allison found Camp Corral. It is free for military kids.
“We send children from military families to summer camps all over the country, specifically children whose parent has been wounded, injured, ill or fallen,” said Megan Ley, former director of annual giving.
Founded in 2011, the camp has grown to 19 sites in 17 states and served more than 21,000 kids.
“We understand each other and we just bond, just talk about our experiences and how we feel,” Malone said.
Camp directors go through mental health training to help campers open up like when Allison was upset her father was about to be deployed.
“It’s something that she would not have shared with me because she knows I was stressed about it too,” Malone said.
Malone has seen the confidence level in both her daughters grow.
“I think it’s given them coping skills and the independence that they would not have gotten, that i can’t give them,” she said.
And most importantly, the camp allows kids to be kids!
“I’m just saying amazing so many times because that’s how I’m describing it, it’s just been so life-changing!" Malone said.
The experience has meant so much to Kaitlin she wants to be a counselor in training when she returns this summer.
Camp Corral solely relies on donations to fund its program and operations. The Golden Corral chain is the founding sponsor and continues to do in-store fundraisers every year. The application process opened in January.