Any deployment is challenging, especially when you are the solo parent to young children. But deployments that stretch over the summer are especially difficult for the parent at home.
Summer disrupts many activities and extracurriculars, and it means that a working parent must scramble to find additional childcare options. I have gone through several summertime deployments as a wife and mom, and we have used different strategies depending on my children’s ages.
Over the years, I have learned that summer can be fun for everyone, especially if you begin researching ahead of time and know about military discounts and programs. With a little help, you can handle anything during a deployment summer.
Keep reading to learn more about my favorite resources for military families going through a summer deployment. Some of them offer military discounts, while others are completely free!
Military discounts on camps for military kids.
Whether you are a working parent who needs to keep the kids busy all summer, or you are just looking for an occasional break from the kids, here are some great discounted camps for military kids!
Military kids get discounted prices on day camps and sleepaway camps through the Armed services YMCA (ASYMCA). Start researching your local ASYMCA in the spring, because these activities fill up quickly.
This program of the National Military Family Association offers a free week of summer camp to military kids of any branch. They have locations across the country dedicated to helping military kids build confidence and friendships through traditional summer camp activities like outdoor adventures or arts and crafts.
Camp Corral is a one-week outdoor adventure camp that is free to military kids. The goal is to help them have new experiences and make friends with other kids who are familiar with military life. Preference is given to children of wounded, disabled, or fallen service members. Check their website to see if there is a location near you!
The YMCA offers discounted membership to military families at most locations across the country. During deployment, if you live more than 50 miles from a military base, your membership may be free! Members get access to equipment, pools, and group classes. In addition, you can take advantage of two hours of on-site childcare per visit. If you work from home, this could become your summer office.
Vacation Bible School.
Many Christian churches offer a week-long day camp where kids can learn about Bible stories, sing songs, and play games. At some locations, these camps are free! If it is a good match for your beliefs and your child’s personality, then be sure to enroll them in advance.
Free activities for military kids on or near base.
This program is available at bowling alleys across the country, both on and off base. When you register your family on the Kids Bowl Free website, you will get weekly emails with vouchers for two free bowling games, per child, each week of the summer! You can pay a fee for a parent package, or just enjoy the free version of the program.
Military base housing typically has swimming pools or splash pads available for residents. If you do not live on base, you may still be able to enjoy them by showing your military ID. Find out if the pools on your base are free or charge a family membership fee. Either way, it is usually less than joining a private swim club. Some bases also offer discounted swim lessons for kids.
Your base movie theater always shows movies for lower prices than local theaters. The snacks are cheaper too! During the summer, base theaters often have special matinee shows during the day with G-rated children’s movies. Grab some friends and beat the heat with a day at the theater.
Whether you go to the library on base or in town, most libraries have a free Summer Reading Program with special activities and prizes throughout the summer. You can also benefit from children’s Story Hour, Craft Time, or other events. Plus you can check out books, music, DVDs, and audiobooks for fresh entertainment all summer long.
If there is a USO office near your base, find out what programs they offer military kids. Each location has its own calendar, but may include story time, free meals, or special classes.
Free and discounted activities for military kids nationwide.
Every summer, hundreds of museums across the country offer free admission to military families. Simply show a military or dependent ID card at the entrance. You can find a complete list of participating locations on their website.
Service members can get a free annual pass good for admission to any National Park! All they do is show a military ID at any park gate. Get the annual pass during deployment, then use it to plan special getaways and road trips.
If your kids like sports, then they will love the opportunity to go behind the scenes and meet athletes from local college and minor league teams. Operation Teammate creates meaningful connections between military kids and local athletes with unique experiences that help kids build confidence to face deployment.
ITT Military Discount Tickets.
Before planning any summer fun activities, stop by your base ITT website or office. They have a complete list of military discount tickets that are not advertised on other websites. This is great when family members visit or if you want to plan a special celebration to mark another month down in deployment. You can get tickets to local attractions or even to parks across the country like Disney Land and Disney World.
Discounts from GovX and VetTix.
If you’re planning to attend a concert or sporting event, use these sites first to get exclusive military deals. The service member needs to create an account where they verify their active duty status, so this should be done before they deploy.
There are so many ways to keep your military kids active and engaged all summer. If you are the solo parent during deployment, you don’t have to do it all alone. Enjoy the military discounts and free services of these organizations to help you through a deployment summer.
Want more on military life?
- The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Military Spouses
- Top 10+ Deployment Resources for Military Kids
- 17 Must-Have Books for Military Kids During Deployment
- How to Make Your Own Daddy Doll (Tutorial)