Painted Turtle Camp
Delta Zeta’s national philanthropy, the Painted Turtle Camp is an amazing opportunity for children with chronic illnesses to spend a week with other children experiencing the same difficulties in life. Located in Santa Monica, California, the main goal of the camp is to provide a place that empowers children to overcome the challenges they face medically and experience new things all while building self confidence and independence. Each summer, the camp caters each week to a different set of chronic illnesses. The camp is fully staffed with medical personnel and trained counselors to attend to any need the camper may have throughout the week. No complaint is too big to handle at the Painted Turtle Camp! Full time summer counselors come from all over the United States and the world to volunteer. Each spring the girls of Delta Zeta raise money for the Painted Turtle Camp in their Bite of Athens event. Thanks to our support, this camp is offered to these children completely free of charge. This past summer Delta Zeta was able to send 4 girls to work at the camp and have the experience of a lifetime. Junior Delta Zeta Jennifer Lucas was able to volunteer her time for a week this past summer, going over to California to be a counselor during the Rheumatoid Arthritis week of camp. Not only was she able to give kids the best week of their lives, but she also took away an incredible learning experience herself. Jennifer says, “As a volunteer counselor, I went through a full day of extensive training to be prepared for the children coming in. I learned all about the diseases each child was suffering from and how best to make sure their experience was the most fun week of the year. But what I truly took away from the camp was what the children taught me. Through them, I learned so much about loving myself, letting go and dancing to any and every song, and appreciating everything I have, especially my health.”
A truly unique aspect of the camp is the fact that it is a place for children to come together and meet other young kids who are suffering from similar diseases. It is a safe place to talk and learn more about what they are going through and know that they are not alone. Jennifer describes her week working with Rheumatoid Diseases by saying, “this week was tough because a lot of the kids had severe pain and no reason why that pain was there and really no way to solve it. A lot of the children needed daily injections or wheelchairs to get around. However, At the Painted Turtle Camp it is normal to take medicine everyday, need a wheelchair to transport yourself, and visit the well shell for medical checkups and visits. And knowing I was a part of the reason why this week is the best week of the year for these children is really the greatest feeling in the world.” The week was full of silly games, outdoor activities, and learning experiences for all of those who were there.
Delta Zeta will continue to donate money and send over counselors each year as they hold the Painted Turtle Camp near and dear to their hearts!