Pennsylvania is home to 32,000 military kids who move around, don’t see their parents for months at a time, and are plagued with worry of a parent dying while in service of their country. That’s why YMCA Camp Soles in Somerset County offers a discounted week to kids in military families.
This week 65 kids ages 7-15 who are part of a military family get to enjoy zip lining, rock climbing, a nature center, arts and crafts and many more camp activities. Executive Director of the camp, Ryan Hove, says it gives them a chance to be normal kids.
“What we want for all of our kids that come to camp, but especially these kids (is) a chance just strictly to be a kid. I think (this) is something really important and to be away from the everyday life stuff and the stressors that may be at home, where the biggest decision of their day is if they’re going to go to archery or if they’re going to try canoeing today,” said Hoves.
It also gives the kids a chance to bond over their similar hardships.
“A lot of the kids we have this week have lived and moved a lot of different places. So for them to share that experience of what it’s like to have a parent that’s deployed for a year or six months is something really special. A lot of these kids don’t have the ability to share that with kids at home,” said Hoves.
Normally a week long camp experience like this would cost a family $340, but military families receive a discounted rate of about $25, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the “Send Kids to Camp Campaign” ran through the camp. Those looking to donate can do so online .
This is the first year the week has only been for military kids.
Camp Soles plans to do the event next year, and kids looking to sign up can do so in January when the applications become available.