Soccer, rock climbing, time outdoors, and comradery — those are the things that 16-year-old Caleb looks forward to during his week at summer camp in North Springfield, Pennsylvania. For the past several summers, Caleb has enjoyed the experience with other military children. It’s a time for him to just be a kid and enjoy fun activities that life with an injured military parent doesn’t always allow.
Caleb’s mother, Annemarie, was injured during basic training and now has metal rods in both feet. The injury prevents her from being the active parent she wants to be for Caleb and his older brother and sister. So, Caleb knows first-hand what it means to have a parent living with a debilitating injury sustained during their service to this country. The time he spends at camp is full of experiences that probably wouldn’t happen for Caleb, or other children of military families, without the help of Camp Corral.
Camp Corral is a nonprofit corporation that provides free, one-of-a-kind summer camp experiences for children of wounded, injured, ill or fallen service members. Donations come from Golden Corral restaurants and their customers across the country. The donations and a partnership with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) were able to provide $2 million to help fund Camp Corral in 2019. All military children, ages 8 to 15, are eligible to attend the camp, although children of wounded, injured, ill, or fallen service members are given priority registration.
During camp week, military children come together with a common bond — their family’s proud service to the United States and how it affects their daily lives. But they’re allowed to set aside some of those difficulties and just be kids. They make new friends and participate in canoeing, ropes course challenges, archery, horseback riding, and much more. Trained counselors are also on-site to work with campers who need an extra helping hand.
Camp Corral is proudly supported by Golden Corral, which has a long-standing tradition of helping American veterans. The company became a founding sponsor of Camp Corral in 2011. Over the years, the national restaurant chain and its guests have provided nearly $13 million to Camp Corral. During that time, Camp Corral has served more than 24,000 children.
In the summer of 2019, donations from Golden Corral restaurants as well as other generous corporate and individual donors provided 21 camp weeks across 17 states. In total, 3,281 children of wounded, injured, ill, or fallen service members were given a unique week-long experience where outside challenges are put on hold and their only mission is to have fun. Caleb was one of those kids.
He comes from a family with a long tradition of serving in the U.S. military. His uncle was in the Air Force, his grandfather was in the Army, his grandmother worked in civil service for the Navy, and both of his parents served in the Army. Caleb was so inspired by his time at Camp Corral, he decided to take one of his favorite camp traditions and share it with his community.
Project Linus, a nonprofit organization that provides handmade blankets to children in need, partners with several Camp Corral locations across the country. Caleb has a blanket from each of his summers at Camp Corral, and they serve as daily reminders of his best summer memories and friends.
With the help of his mother, Caleb organized his Boy Scout troop and other volunteers to create 50 blankets for Project Linus. When Caleb and his mother delivered the finished blankets to the Northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of Project Linus, they received a big surprise. Half of the blankets would be donated to Camp Corral, to help other military children.
This was Caleb’s last summer at Camp Corral. He’s collected countless memories and friends, and his blankets ensure that the next round of campers will feel an extra layer of support from someone who’s been in their shoes.
Golden Corral knows there are more kids like Caleb who would benefit from an experience like Camp Corral, and is dedicated to continuing its support of military families by working to send even more kids to camp in 2020.
To learn more about the positive impact of Camp Corral and to support their efforts to send more military children to camp, please visit www.campcorral.org.