It is a special camp for kids of military families, giving priority to children of wounded, disabled and fallen service members.
Its name is Camp Corral. The program seeks to create a space where children ages 8 to 15 can have adventures and create social bonds away from the daily challenges of military family life.
Campers are encouraged to try new things such as horseback riding, water tubing and archery.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to meet the counselors,” said Alana Torres, a Devol resident who started attending Camp Classen in 2012.
“Whenever I get to camp, it’s like I have another family already.”
Veterans are linked by bonds formed through shared experiences, and their children have a separate set of battle tales that knit them together. More than 60 percent of Camp Coral parents say their children face unique difficulties such as isolation, instability, anxiety and stress from taking on roles beyond their years.
“I see them when they talk to their friends who are military versus friends who aren’t,” said veteran Miriam Torres, Alana’s mother.
“(With nonmilitary) they have to go back and explain a lot of what they’re talking about. Talking to their friends who are military, they don’t have to explain anything. Everybody gets it.”
While Camp Corral gives preference to children whose families include disabled, wounded, ill or fallen veterans, all military families are encouraged to apply. If there are spots available, kids without mission status get accepted 60 days before the start of the session.
Camp Corral is a part of the restaurant chain Golden Corral’s initiative to support military service members. Since it’s launch as a one-camp pilot in 2011, the program has exploded in size and hosted more than 10,000 children.
“It’s not only a camp for the kids. It’s also a camp for the veteran,” said Martin Brown, an Oklahoman and former Navy aviation medic whose two sons have attended the camp.
“I was introduced by a parent. Camp Corral keeps itself going, but it’s the word within our community that spreads the fastest.”
Last year, the Torres’ were one of the wait-listed families. When they got a call saying spots had opened up on the first day of camp, the family rushed to get the girls to Davis.
“I think that’s the fastest packing we’ve ever done,” Miriam Torres said.
“Literally, it takes us a week to get ready, and we were done in like 30 minutes. I wish it was offered more so that those kids who are on that waiting list, they still get to go and have that experience.”
For more information on Camp Corral you can visit their website, http://www.campcorral.org/