One of Delta Zeta’s National Philanthropies is the Painted Turtle Camp. Located in Santa Monica, California, the camp is a place where terminally ill children go and spend a week with other children from around the country that have the same illness. Each week of the summer is designated for a different illness. Children get to attend free of charge because of donations from Delta Zeta and other organizations. DZ’s spring philanthropy event, Bite of Athens, is specifically designated to help fund the Painted Turtle Camp. The camp's main goal is to make each child feel right at home and to take their minds off their illness. Delta Zeta also raises money to sponsor girls from different chapters to be counselors at the camp. One of the girls sponsored this year is DZ’s current philanthropy chair, Ashley Stigler. She said her time at the camp was life changing and she is proud that her sorority supports such a worthwhile mission. Here is a short excerpt of her experience at the Painted Turtle Camp:
“Spending a week at the Painted Turtle Camp was the most incredible experience. The Painted Turtle Camp is a camp designed for kids and teenagers with chronic illnesses. The week I went was specifically for people with dwarfism ranging in ages 7 to 15 years old. During this week I was a cabin counselor for girls 9 and 10 years old. This camp was like any other camp; the campers went fishing, swimming, horse back riding, and did arts and crafts. However, the entire camp was created to work around the campers’ daily challenges that come with their chronic illness. Even though there were some activities that the campers struggled with, it was amazing to see all of them join together to encourage one another. Because the weeks are designed to have campers who have the same struggles and have to overcome similar obstacles, they didn’t feel like they were alone at camp.
One of the most memorable experiences from the Painted Turtle Camp was when the girls in my cabin decided to trick one of the leaders into coming to their cabin by telling the leader they had free hot dogs. Once the leader came to the cabin the girls proceeded to tie him up and paint his face and arms and then pied him in the face instead of giving him free hotdogs. All of the girls were laughing and having a great time together! Spending a week at this camp will never be forgotten and I hope to spend another week or two this coming summer.”