By: Randi Cairns

At Powerhouse Planning, we don’t just talk about the person in uniform; we also focus on military families. Because we know something that we believe more folks should understand: Service members don’t serve alone. Yes, they are the ones taking those noble oaths, but more often than not there are loved ones by their sides who—by choice, necessity, or some combination of the two—serve and sacrifice in their own ways.

More than two million of those loved ones are American children whose parents were deployed at least once to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001. And that figure doesn’t include children with moms or dads deployed in other parts of the world, or those with parents serving stateside.

These youngest members of our larger military family face unique challenges and stresses, such as deployments, frequent moves, household changes, and more. They often feel isolated and unsupported in a world where many in their communities don’t know what it means to be part of a military family. Many of these children are “grown up” before their time, often taking on additional responsibilities and being brave little soldiers (and Airmen, and Marines, and Coasties, etc.).

Camp Corral is working to change that. They provide a free week-long summer camp experience for military kids ages 8-15. During camp, these kids enjoy traditional camp activities (think swimming, archery, horseback riding, campfires, etc.). And they have the freedom to be kids, far away from the day-to-day challenges they face as military kids.

But the benefits of Camp Corral extend well beyond the camp week. Kids return home with new reserves of self-confidence and resilience, bringing with them long-lasting friendships with others who share the experience of life as military children. To date, over 17,000 children have been served, and the program has expanded to 24 camps in 19 states. During the 2017 camping season, 3,683 military children were able to attend camp free of charge. It’s worth noting that after camp, 94% of campers felt more confident and 83% of parents saw lasting changes in their children.

So how can your favorite military child(ren) participate in the Camp Corral experience?

While those children who have a wounded, ill, injured, or fallen service member or veteran parent are given registration priority, any child from an active duty, guard, reserve, or veteran military family is eligible to apply. To submit an application, the child must be between the ages of 8-15 on the first day of the session. Families can learn more (and apply) via Camp Corral’s website.

As we continue to rely on an all-volunteer military force, how can you ensure we also continue to provide opportunities like this for the children impacted by service?

Camp Corral is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation and relies on donations to fund its camp program and operational costs. Golden Corral is the founding sponsor of Camp Corral and continues to support the organization generously through its in-store fundraising campaign each April and May. To help Camp Corral continue to expand and serve even more military families, the organization depends on other sources of support. To make a donation, visit or mail donations to Camp Corral, 801 N. West Street, Raleigh, NC 27603.