Operation Purple is a summer camp for children of military families whose parents are, have been, or can be deployed or who have been wounded in service. United Methodist Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center partners with with Operation Purple to host summer camps for all ages. We spoke to a young seminarian who says spending summers volunteering with the camp gave him a new appreciation about ways that church members can support military families.
(Locator: Boston, Massachusetts)
Nico Romeijn-Stout, Camp Lazy F: "My name is Nico Romeijn-Stout. I'm a first-year Master of Divinity student at Boston University School of Theology. I've been involved in ministry with military families through a camp I worked at with the Pacific Northwest Conference called Lazy F Camp. Lazy F has been partnered with the National Military Family Association for the last five or six years through a camp organization called Operation Purple which is a camp for military children, especially focused on children of deployed soldiers.
The model of Operation Purple is that kids serve, too, and learning what that means, and that that matters and that they matter, that they're making important contributions. To see the kids show up at the beginning of a week at camp unsure about what's gonna happen, they don't really know anybody. They're nervous. And then at the end of the week at camp they have a new group of close friends.
Sometimes they make connections in their own schools and communities. And they leave with smiles on their faces and joy in their heart.
I think United Methodists can be more active in supporting our military families. One of the things I've learned a lot is that we have military members and families in communities everywhere, even where there's not necessarily a military base. We have families of active military, of reserves, of National Guard, spread throughout the country.
Becoming involved in ministries with military, in my experience, it does take dedication. It does take an intentionality about finding the opportunities. It does not necessarily have to take a large amount of money or a huge number of volunteers. And I believe that it can begin with simple engagement, even just one-on-one level, finding military members working with children, mentoring people, small programs can make a huge difference in their lives."
For more information and current camp schedules, contact Lazy F Camp. And learn more about how United Methodists are in ministry with those who serve.
This story was first published on May 20, 2013.