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The Painted Turtle provides year-round, authentic camp experiences for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and their families, free of charge through virtual and on-site programs. The Painted Turtle supports children’s medical needs, inspires them to reach beyond their illnesses, and provides care, education, and respite for their families in a life-changing environment.

When California shut down in the spring of 2020 to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, The Painted Turtle adjusted to ensure the delivery of camp programming in a virtual space. “We recognized the importance of continuing to offer Camp during a critical time,” explains Associate Director Sasha Muraoka. In an effort to move to a virtual platform, they created a program called Camp at Home, where all the magic and joy of Camp was livestreamed with pre-recorded arts and crafts, campfire songs and dances, and shared resources and support for caregivers. Campers and families received activity boxes in the mail so every individual could participate in the online experience. The Painted Turtle fully intends to resume on-site programming in the future, which includes eight week-long disease specific summer sessions, twelve three-day family weekends during the fall and spring, and an in-hospital program serving 22 sites throughout California. Virtual programming will continue as they have seen increases in their impact and reach.

Virtual camp experiences have brought smiles, joy, and laughter into campers’ and families’ homes during an unknown time. “We were able to provide experiences that promote connection, foster community, increase social support, and provide accessible and adaptive opportunities for the whole family. We have a supportive, interconnected team that focuses on collaboration, adaptability, and intentionality,” beamed Muraoka. While the organization is slowly and carefully re-opening with a few in person Limited Family Days on their campsite, and throughout California with their Camp on the Move, Parking Lot Party program, they will continue their online efforts, which have been met with great success.