UC Riverside welcomed Operation Purple Camp to campus this week, giving 94 military-connected kids a chance to experience college life and have some fun.
The campers, who came from Southern California and beyond, took part in activities such as archery, rope climbing, and swimming during their week-long stay from July 14-18. UCR Recreation, which hosted the camp, also offered academic lessons and exercises emphasizing leadership, teamwork, and conflict resolution.
A high point for campers was a flyover Wednesday by the Tiger Squadron precision flying team out of Torrance, who flew over the campus in formation as the campers watched from near the Student Recreation Center.
Earlier that morning, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey welcomed the campers, telling them some history about the city and its agricultural heritage. As an army veteran, he said he was proud that UCR was hosting the camp.
“It’s awesome that you’re here in Riverside, and you’re representing military families,” he said.
UC Riverside was one of only 15 sites nationally and the only one in California chosen to host Operation Purple Camp this year. The camp, put on by the National Military Family Association, is free for military-connected children.
Carl Dugdale, youth program coordinator for UCR Recreation and director of Camp Highlander, called the camp an emotional experience that hit home with a Military Appreciation Day that was held.
"Camp was a home from home and it felt like a magical place to be interacting with our youth," he said. "I felt it could not have gone any better and the kids and teens really loved the whole college experience and traditional camp activities