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Painted Turtle Gang Camp Foundation

Rating: 5 stars   3 reviews 571


1300 4th Street Suite 300 Santa Monica CA 90401 USA


The Painted Turtle’s mission is to provide a year-round, life-changing environment and authentic camp experience for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The Painted Turtle supports children’s medical needs, inspires them to reach beyond their illnesses, and provides care, education and respite for their families. All campers and families attend free of charge.


The Painted Turtle can be a powerful intervention for children who have chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The camp’s week-long summer sessions and year-round weekends help seriously ill children gain the knowledge, skills, and support they need to lead healthier, happier lives.

Through scheduled visits to the Well Shell (the camp’s medical center), evening cabin chats, and spontaneous “teachable moments,” campers develop greater coping strategies, learn medical self-care techniques, and increase their medical compliance through intentional programming. Campers’ participation in adaptive physical activities such as horseback riding, swimming, and the high-ropes adventure course, helps them build greater confidence, self-esteem, and trust in their bodies. The Painted Turtle’s arts and crafts, performing arts, and nature programs provide campers with avenues for self-expression, creativity, and exploration.

Similar to the summer camp sessions, The Painted Turtle’s Family Weekends are designed to meet the unique needs of families with children who have chronic and life-threatening illnesses. These overnight weekends offer families respite from the stress of caring for a chronically ill child and give the whole family an opportunity to reconnect and recharge in a safe and beautiful environment. 

During their time at The Painted Turtle they also get to connect with, and gain support from, others who are dealing with a similar situation. Throughout the weekends children and parents participate in educational, recreational, and community building activities. 

The Painted Turtle operates nine program areas which include aquatics, archery, arts and crafts and woodshop, boating and fishing, creative and performing arts, equestrian, fun and games, nature and discovery, and a ropes adventure course.

The Painted Turtle Camp, located in Lake Hughes, 60 miles north of metropolitan Los Angeles, encompasses 173 acres with a 23-acre bass lake. The camp offers weeklong, disease-specific programs to hundreds of children ages 7 to 16 during the summer. Throughout the rest of the year, The Painted Turtle hosts chronically ill children and their families for weekend programs. Each of these opportunities allow us to offer children and families challenged by chronic and life-threatening illnesses with the chance to learn new strategies of medical self-care, increase their self-confidence, build supportive friendships with peers who have the same disease, and have some good old-fashioned fun. Camp allows these children to regain some of their childhood that has been lost to illness and learn a bit more about how best to cope with their illness.


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Reviews for Painted Turtle Gang Camp Foundation

Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

An amazing experience - for children with disabilities and their families there may not be a better more fun place around. There is a basketball court from the LA Lakers with the Lakers hardwood floor (and the logo), a pool shaped like a whale, a medical building that is like a visit to Hawaii, lodging that is like a resort camp vacation, arts & crafts lead by a dedicated craftsman, activities that you would not imagine being in a camp like this and most importantly friendly and inspired staff. From the camp counselors, activity leaders, medical staff on site to the admin staff everyone puts the kids, families and their experience first. The success of this program is built on the amazing people who work and volunteer there and on the fabulous generosity of their donors from the companies that donate toys for the kids, to the volunteers who make quilts and stuffed turtles for the children everyone matters here!

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

We are proud to support The Painted Turtle’s innovative camp programs for families and children with more than 30 medical conditions. These fun summer and family weekend camp-based programs are provided at no cost to the participants. It’s our honor to support them in their fundraising efforts through our Cars 4 Causes Vehicle Donation Program. We applaud their efforts to make a difference!

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Rating: 5 stars  

They say that Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth. Not so. Just ask anybody who has spent anytime in any capacity at the Painted Turtle Camp. It doesn't matter if you are a camper,volunteer,staff, family of a camper or a visiter of the yearly open house. You will walk away a changed person. The love is evident. They staff and volunteers care for your children as if they were their family. I am always amazed at the energy of everyone there. We have been attending family weekend for about 6 years and our son attends week long summer sessions for about 4 years. We go at not cost to us. They have volunteer medical staff from some of the best hospitals not only in the area but in the country.

The camp experiance is alive and well at the Turtle. Camp songs are sung, goofy dances are the norm, laughter is a must, and good vibe is a rule. Fun is a serious buisness. And you and your kids are safe to be your silly, dilly self. Everyone has heard you get out of it, what you put into it. It could never be truer than at the Painted Turtle. If you embrace the madness and just let go and go with the flow you will have a life changing experiance. Every kids just want to be normal, more so for the kids with chronic and life threatening illnesses. And here they are the norm. No one looks twice at scars, ports, prosthetics. There is no taunting from other kids that medications are taken, that shots are given, breathing treatments are scheduled.

You get support not only from the staff but the kids support each other. I as a kid never went to camp and never thought about it. But if I knew camp was like the Painted Turtle I would have morned it my whole kidhood. I wish my son was 100% healthy, but I am so happy there is a place like the Painted Turtle.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Attending family camp weekends, and our son attends week long summer camp at no cost.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I wish that healthy siblings could attend summer camp. Healthy siblings are often in the shadow of the attention of the ill child.

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