Dream, Explore, Discover!

That is what every camper who attends The Painted TurtleSummer Staff Training 2016 - Dream Explore Discover (3) - web friendly this summer was asked to do! Whether that meant dreaming about what their week at camp would entail, exploring a new activity or talent, or discovering they are not alone as they navigate life with a serious medical condition. This summer’s theme encouraged campers to grow in ways they never thought possible. Join the campers on this journey through these inspiring stories.


Page & Play ButtonAll great things begin with a spark, an idea, a dream. Hear how it all began as our Co-Founders Page and Lou Adler talk about the dream of camp!

“I learned right away that is wasn’t me building this camp, it was our founders, our board members, the people that heard the dream and said, ‘that’s my dream too.’ “
-Page Adler, Co-Founder 


Trying something new always feels better with a friend by your side,Infusion Square 2 and that’s why The Painted Turtle campers are encouraged to explore new things. Sometimes that means choosing to soar down the zip-line or eat spaghetti with no hands, or sometimes it is learning how to administer their own medical treatments.

One Saturday during an Inhibitor Family Weekend, nine year-old Jack and his mom Tracy attended a self-infusion class for campers and their families in the Well Shell, Camp’s Medical Facility. Though Jack had already adamantly declared he was not going to try to self-infuse, Tracy raised her hand and volunteered to practice on herself. infusion square 1Looking over at his mom, Jack reluctantly followed – and there, in the safe space of Camp, he courageously picked up a needle and was able to self-infuse for the very first time!  Not only was Tracy moved to tears at seeing her son overcome such a huge fear, another camper was affected as well.

Eight year-old Jacob decided to follow his friend’s lead and bravely stepped forward with his mom Cheryl. Knowing how very scared Jacob was of needles, Jack chose to skip his next activity and stay in the Well Shell with his friend. Though it took a while and several tries,
Jacob was finally successful and the two boys beamed with pride!

Each were awarded a Big Stick certificate for self-infusing at Camp for the first time, but their real reward was gaining independence
in their own medical care and bringing their friendship to a new level.

infusion square 3Jack and Jacob’s rite of passage even inspired their mothers to stay behind and practice with infusion sticks.  Both were determined to get better so they could help their sons if they ever need it, however Cheryl shared the same fear of needles as Jacob.  So in true Camp spirit, Tracy supported her friend by sticking out her arm and
allowing Cheryl to practice on her – proving that at The Painted Turtle, no one is alone in trying new things and overcoming their fears.


Jessie Waldberg never thought of herself as a “sick kid” and wasn’t sure about the idea of going to a medical camp for children. However after her first hospitalization for Crohn’s Disease, Jessie finally agreed to try out the camp her doctors kept talking about: The Painted Turtle.

Arriving in the summer of 2005, Jessie discovered that CampJessie Waldberg - LIT (Discover) - web was nothing like she expected. It was a place she immediately felt comfortable, at ease, and empowered.  Spending a magical week with kids and counselors who looked past her illness and understood her without judgment led Jessie to discover that she too wanted to become a role model for young girls with serious medical conditions. Knowing the frustrations and impact a chronic illness can have on someone’s life, Jessie now wanted to provide the same hope and support to others.  So without hesitation the following year, Jessie returned to The Painted Turtle to complete its Leadership-In-Training program and volunteer for the Crohn’s and Colitis session.

Jessie went on to earn a Bachelor’s DegreeJessie Waldberg - Nurse (Discover) - web in Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara, and it was there that she discovered yet one more thing about herself: she wanted to use her knowledge, empathy, and intelligence to become a nurse.  Motivated by her passion to care for others, Jessie attended Mount Saint Mary’s University and completed an accelerated Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing in just one year!  She now works at Cedars Sinai Hospital as a nurse in the Labor and Delivery ward.

“When I started my nursing career, I really noticed that being open and willing to share details about my own illness allowed me to 
and connect with my patients on a greater level. 
I’ve been the patient, I’ve been in their shoes, and I can truly empathize with them.”

Jessie discovered more than she ever thought she could by coming to The Painted Turtle; she discovered a part of herself. She found the confidence, compassion, bravery, and kindness that allowed her to realize her desire to care for others, and she enthusiastically credits The Painted Turtle for having this effect on her life. What a way to bring the magic of The Painted Turtle to the rest of the world!