How Nurses Can Help at The Painted Turtle

How Nurses Can Help at The Painted Turtle

A life-changing camp for children with a chronic illness

By Christine Tarlecki
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When people think of camp, it usually has the word summer preceding it. Not so with The Painted Turtle, a 173-acre camp and family care center in Lake Hughes, Calif. Paul Newman and Page Adler founded the year-round camp in 1999, and its purpose is to offer a life-changing environment and authentic camp experience for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

More than 17,500 children in California suffer from chronic illnesses and are unable to attend summer camp due to their medical needs. But The Painted Turtle provides these children and their families with an empowering, renewing experience completely free of charge, relying upon the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations. “Our goal is to serve more than 2,300 children and family members during sessions that run from February to December,” said Sheri Carson, MSN, RN, CPNP, the camp’s nursing director.

Perhaps the best part about this camp is that it’s just like any other; there’s swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, ropes courses, a top-notch gym and nature activities. And all the children, no matter their illness or capacity, can participate fully in every activity thanks to the subtle yet liberating access components built right into the facilities.

For every two campers, there is an adult on hand to supervise the day’s events. Each session, nurses volunteer to live at the camp and work closely with full-time staff. “Volunteering at a place like this is a great way to remind nurses of the reason they went into nursing in the first place,” said Carson. “It is such a rewarding experience to be here.”

The Painted Turtle is currently in need of four full-time (paid) RNs for summer staff positions. In addition, it is looking for 10-12 volunteer nurses per weeklong summer session to help provide care. The primary duties of the volunteer nurse are to prepare and administer scheduled medications and treatments to campers and staff, provide first aid, participate in staff health education, accompany campers to activity areas and assist in general health screening at camp, among other duties.

For more information about The Painted Turtle, go to If you are interested in becoming a life-changing staff member or volunteer, please contact Sheri Carson by phone, (661) 724-1768 ext. 201, or email,  

Christine Tarlecki is a freelance writer for Working Nurse.

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