Campers Turned Counselors

As The Painted Turtle embarks on the 10th summer, we continue to see the positive, long-term effects of camp. In 2014, ten former Painted Turtle campers are full-time summer staff members; individuals who want to provide campers with the same support, encouragement, and camp magic that they received when they were campers.

One of the remarkable aspects of The Painted Turtle experience for campers is that in so many untold ways it continues to positively impact the way children see themselves, their illnesses, and their futures.

We thank these ten inspiring role models for sharing their experiences and wisdom with the campers this summer. It is so much more than just camp fun.

Ali Barnum Leadership Camper

“Camper” Ali


“Counselor” Ali

Ali Barnum, Cabin Counselor
Ali first came to The Painted Turtle in 2007 when she attended a Family Weekend. Her first impression of camp was that it was “inspiring and fun!”  After that weekend she knew she always wanted as much camp in her life as possible.
Ali shares that camp built her self-confidence, something she hopes to share with campers as a Cabin Counselor. “I hope to see lots of smiles, help my campers make lots of memories, and watch their confidence grow!”


“Counselor” Stratton


“Camper” Stratton

Stratton Caputo, Cabin Counselor
“Pure magic” is what Stratton experienced his first time as a camper in 2007. Sharing with other campers during Cabin Chat is what he remembers as his favorite thing about camp.
For Stratton the motivation to apply for a summer staff position was easy – it was the day he turned 19, which is the minimum age required to qualify!
“The one thing I hope to teach campers this summer is how to laugh at their disability.” 

Rheumatic Diseases Summer Session, July 17-22, 2010 --  Camper DICKINSON, MEGAN B4

“Camper” Megan

"Counselor" Megan

“Counselor” Megan

Megan Dickinson, Cabin Counselor
Megan’s first time at camp was in 2010. Camp for her became an escape from everyday struggles.  As a camper she said she felt an enormous amount of support from her counselors. After camp she was not embarrassed by her condition any longer.
“I applied for a summer staff position so that I could be a positive role model in the lives of the campers and give them the support that I was given.”
Learning about her camper’s dreams and aspirations, and helping them realize they are extremely unique, is what Megan is looking forward to most this summer.

"Counselor" Gabe

“Counselor” Gabe

"Camper" Gabe

“Camper” Gabe

Gabe Geufen, Cabin Counselor
Gabe was blown away and overwhelmed with emotion during her first experience in 2009.  But after spending her first summer at camp she knew as soon as she was old enough she wanted to spend her summer making an impact on the campers just like the counselors she admired for so many years. “My counselors supported and encouraged me, and I left camp no longer shy.”
“The Painted Turtle was the first place I went after I was diagnosed where I wasn’t excluded due to my illness. For the first time in my life I wasn’t bullied or laughed at or given a hard time. It was the first time people were willing to help me and accommodate my disability.”

"Camper Katie"

“Camper Katie

"Counselor" Katie

“Counselor” Katie

Katie Griffith, Cabin Counselor
“Absolutely amazing” is how Katie describes her first time at camp in 2008. Her favorite part about camp was being able to spend a week where she was “eye level” with everyone.
Becoming a Cabin Counselor is something Katie has wanted to do ever since she walked through the front gate as a camper. “To me there is no place I would rather be. Camp is a magical place that will impact you for the rest of your life. Coming to The Painted Turtle truly changed how I went about my life and I want campers to have that same feeling.”

"Counselor"  James

“Counselor” James

"Camper" James

“Camper” James

James Irving, Cabin Counselor
James is no stranger to camp either, he’s been coming since 2005 and just about every year since!  What was his first reaction to camp? “Unexpectedly amazing!”
Before coming to camp, James didn’t know anyone else who had the same illness. “Camp changed my life. I used to think this illness controlled me but camp showed me how to live life the right way.”

“The counselors gave me some of the best memories of my life.” James hopes to be able to do the same for the campers this summer.

"Camper" Dylan

“Camper” Dylan

PFD "Counselor" Dylan

PFD “Counselor” Dylan

Dylan Lowe, PFD
Dylan remembers feeling really nervous to be away from home the first time she came to camp in 2008. But as soon as the dancing began her fears quickly melted away.
Dylan is a PFD this year at camp. A PFD (personal floatation device) is a specialized counselor who is responsible for supporting and encouraging each child to participate fully in all aspects of camp and provide one on one support to campers who might require more attention.
The one thing Dylan hopes to share with campers this summer is “That they have exponential potential and will accomplish so many things in their lives.”

Creative Arts "Counselor" Theresa

“Creative Arts” Theresa

"Camper" Theresa

“Camper” Theresa

Theresa Maloney, Creative Arts
Heading up the Creative Arts program this year is Theresa, who has been coming to camp every year since 2006. Her first impression of camp was “hope” and she admits her favorite part about camp was feeling like a kid again.
“I decided to apply for summer staff because I wanted to give campers the magic that was given to me. I want other children to be able to experience a place where they can feel like a normal kid.”
Theresa’s contagious camp spirit and energetic personality brings out the best in campers in the Creative Arts program. Through these artistic expressions, Theresa hopes to help campers understand that their illness doesn’t define who they are or limit them in anyway.

"Camper" Sienna

“Camper” Sienna

"Camp Musician" Sienna

“Camp Musician” Sienna

Sienna Moffitt, Camp Musician
Sienna has been coming to camp since the very first year in 2004, and has been a camper 10 times! She knows the ins and outs of camp all too well, especially the camp songs which coupled with her amazing musical talents made her a natural fit for camp musician this summer.
“I always admired how much my counselors loved and cared for all of us—that did a lot for me, really shaped my experience at camp and character year round. I wanted to be able to do that for others.”

Creative Arts "Counselor" Christie

“Creative Arts” Christie

"Camoer" Christie

“Camper” Christie

Christie Owens, Creative Arts
Christie too has been coming to camp since the beginning in 2004!  As a camper, Christie could always be found performing at stage night, so it is no surprise that she is now running our Creative Arts program with Theresa. Christie says camp has always been a place where she can “be me.”
She knew she wanted to help others experience the magic of camp and becoming a summer staff members was the perfect way to do that. This summer Christie says she wants campers to “take camp spirit with them wherever they go.”