They arrived here this week, strangers. They were given dog tags and group numbers and put in formation. They are the children of soldiers, meeting others like themselves.
It's called "Operation: Purple." For two years, the program — run by the National Military Families Association — has hosted kids at two dozen camps, for free.
The camps have all the summertime classics — archery, swimming and an endless chorus of camp songs — but it’s designed to help the sons and daughters of those in combat discover the bonds they share.
Ten-year-old Shai Greuter has not seen her father, Christopher, since he left for Iraq in January. “It helps me a lot,” says Shai, “to know that someone else is going through the same situation that I'm going through.”
There are about 140,000 kids in America with a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan. For many of these children, they're the only one in their neighborhood — until they come here.
At counseling sessions, for once, these kids are not the only connection between their classmates back home and the war on television.
Back in Texas, David Robinson gets asked about the fact that both of his parents will soon be deployed.
“They ask me the same questions you're asking me now,” David says, “If I'm scared or depressed.”
How does he answer?
Friends ask Richard Jones about his father, a Marine.
“The main question they say, is if he's killed anybody,” says Richard.
Camp officials say boosting kids' confidence and helping them stay positive helps not only them, but also the soldiers whose eventual return home is never out of mind.
And that return, says Richard, is going to be a good day. “I think,” he says, “it'll be huntin' season when he gets back, too.”
Until then, they bask in a summertime rite of passage, waiting for a day when "the home front" is once again a home.