CNN’s Jason Carroll reports on Operation Purple, a special camp created just for kids with a parent deployed in the military.  

First Lady Michelle Obama cited both Operation Purple and the Sesame Street/USO Experience for special recognition in a speech at the National Military Family Association earlier this year, saying, “One of the great lessons of recent years is that you don’t need to be a military expert to help…Consider the Sierra Club, which partnered with the NMFA to create Operation Purple — summer camps that have made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of military kids. Or my favorite, Sesame Street, which has partnered with the USO to reach more than 100,000 military families and helped kids cope with some very challenging situations.”

Operation Purple (the name comes from the fact that all branches of the military are jointly included) has grown to include over 30,000 kids and teens in camping at locations across the country. Campers hail from all ranks and Services, active and reserve components; priority is given to children whose parents are currently within a 15 month deployment “window,“ the precise dates of which are announced on an annual basis.

In addition to traditional outdoor camp, programming also includes Operation Purple Healing Adventures, designed for children and families of wounded warriors.  The best part?  It’s free!  2011 applications are now being accepted.

The USO lifts the spirits of troops and their families millions of times a year at thousands of places worldwide, and we’re especially proud of everyone who provides opportunities for military kids. Have you been to an Operation Purple camp? What other opportunities for military kids are available this summer? Share your comments below!