WAIALUA (KHNL) - The YMCA at Camp Erdman is hosting a free summer camp program for military children whose parents are deployed or will soon deploy to the Middle East.
"Operation Purple" was created to help military kids cope with war-related stress.
But the program has become so popular, it had to be expanded to include more military kids.
It's a camp experience unlike any other.
For Brianna and Melissa, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"I found out about this camp four years ago and my mom signs me up every year and they only choose a certain amount of people and this year, I got in so I'm extremely excited," said Melissa.
They both have fathers serving in the Army. One is in Iraq, the other is soon to deploy.
Operation Purple supports children who have been effected by deployment in some way.
"The purpose is recognize that kids serve, too," said Kasey Wilson, YMCA Associate Executive Director. "The sacrifices that they make when their family is gone are real and to have kids who's going through the same things at the same time helps them to make friends and bond in that way."
"It's nice to be with other kids who are in the same boat as you are and know what's it's like to have parents deployed and having to miss them," said Brianna.
"They have all these team building tasks and everyone helps each other and it doesn't seem like anyone's in the military because it seems like you're all having so much fun, it just takes it off your mind," said Melissa.
This year, about 500 military kids applied for camp. But with funding for only 130, the YMCA of Honolulu is seeking community support to send the rest to camp.
"We've had a number of people come forward and donate to that cause probably about 20 children right now that we're gonna have right now coming to another week, not to Operation Purple but we still like to have them come out and experience camp," said Wilson.
A small token for all military kids who have one message for their deployed parents.
"I love you and I want you to come home, I hope you're safe."