Summer Staff FAQs

Want to know more about camp? We’re so glad to hear that!

If you have a few more questions about working at The Painted Turtle, you’ve come to the right place. We have compiled some of the questions we receive most often about staff positions on this page. Please feel free to click on any of the questions below to read the answers, and if you have additional questions, please email us at staff@thepaintedturtle.org.

Position Details

Does The Painted Turtle offer any paid positions?

Yes, the Painted Turtle offers a variety of paid positions for summer employment, including cabin and program area positions. We also offer a limited amount of seasonal camp leadership positions. You can view openings for full time positions on our Full-Time Staff page.

Why should I spend a summer working at The Painted Turtle?

Professionally, there are countless benefits to a summer experience at The Painted Turtle. Here is how one summer staff member reflected on a summer experience:

“My experience at The Painted Turtle is something that will remain with me for the rest of my life. Camp is like no other place in the world; I have never been surrounded by a group of people who work together so cohesively and selflessly towards an incredible goal…sometimes camp can provide that breath of fresh air campers need to uncover the courage and enthusiasm that has always been there, but may have been hiding between hospital stays and their daily medication regimen. Reflecting on my time spent at The Painted Turtle makes me realize what a truly precious gift camp is, for both campers and counselors. Spending the summer any other way truly seems like turning my head to one of the greatest opportunities life has offered thus far.”

When people join our team, they join an internationally recognized nonprofit in the worthwhile mission of serving children with serious medical conditions. They work in a dynamic and supportive team setting, with a diverse group of individuals who care deeply about our mission and have great ambitions to make a difference. As camp professionals, staff members learn to plan and implement programs as they gain valuable experience in child development. They learn to adapt activities for campers with various medical needs, work closely with children from different backgrounds, and develop communication and decision-making skills in a fast-paced environment. They work closely with medical professionals, volunteers, and staff members to provide our campers with the safest and most FUN environment possible.

Above all, staff member’s lives are touched forever by the children we serve and the hope, compassion, and pure fun they are able to offer them. To catch a sneak peak into the magic of our program, watch our camp video.

Tell me more! What else are people saying about their experiences at The Painted Turtle?

“Being a part of something like The Painted Turtle which can have a lasting impact on everyone from the campers to the staff, I feel is a tremendous gift to everyone involved. Camp definitely has had a lasting impact on me, and to have the opportunity again to be a part of something that changes so many of these kids and their families’ lives, is something I would make the most out of… I feel a part of me is at my best when I am at camp…

“I would like to return to The Painted Turtle to continue to help camp make a significant impact on the lives of everyone involved… I feel the time I have spent at The Painted Turtle has been an amazing experience of fun and growth that has had a profound effect on my life.

“The Painted Turtle has given a gift to every single person who has come through those gates; the ability to be your best self…. I have seen and experienced how spending just one week at camp can change your life. For most campers, The Painted Turtle gives them the ability to live their lives to the fullest despite of anything that may stand in their way. I love being a part of the team that creates this magic.

My experience last summer was absolutely transformative for me. It was the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I think I’ve ever done. Unlike any other time in my life, I felt like every good quality I had inside of me came shooting out and all my skills and talents were put to use for one incredible purpose… Basically, I’m hooked…

“I loved the freedom to be creative, intentional, and motivating with both campers and fellow staff. I felt great knowing that I was affecting positive change on the lives of hundreds of campers, and I absolutely cannot wait to do it again.”

“I couldn’t think of another way I’d rather spend my summer.”

I’m interested in growing professionally through a summer role at The Painted Turtle. What are some common professional interests represented among your staff team?

The Painted Turtle strives to hire a staff team from a variety of backgrounds and areas of study. Anyone who has a passion for making an impact on our campers is encouraged to apply. Many of our staff members are current college students, recent graduates, and early career professionals. Some staff and volunteers pursue an experience at camp connected to the following professional or academic interests, including: pre-med, nursing, biology, kinesiology, child life, education, child development, psychology, public administration, non-profit management, physical therapy, therapeutic recreation, social work, music, theatre arts, photography, and art therapy.

What positions do you offer during the summer?

Positions offered during the summer include roles in Cabin Life, Programming, and Leadership. Medical positions are also available for medical professionals licensed in California.
Click here to read more about medical positions.
Click here to read more about counselor positions.

What positions do you offer during the Fall and Spring?

We currently offer a variety of volunteer positions throughout our Fall and Spring programming. For more information, see our Volunteers page.

What if I want to apply to work on the summer staff, but do not want to miss out on the opportunity to volunteer if I am not hired for the position?

We are happy to consider your application for both positions. Please make a note of this on your application and during your interview.

Staff Qualifications

What is the minimum age requirement for staff members and volunteers?

All staff and volunteers are required to be at least 19 years of age.

What are other professional requirements for a summer position?

At camp, children enter a magical place where singing, dancing, playing, and laughter are the best medicine we can offer. Above all, we are looking for fun, energetic, creative, responsible, and compassionate individuals who will be dedicated to giving our campers the best camp experience possible. In addition to the requirement that applicants are at least 19 years of age, specific skill certifications are required for certain program areas (for example, lifeguarding, ropes course, etc.) Ropes course training is offered on-site one week prior to all-staff orientation (typically in late May). For all positions, CPR and First Aid certification is strongly recommended before coming to camp. Leadership positions may require additional experience, and additional requirements for other positions may vary (see job details on our Summer Staff Positions page). If you have more questions about specific positions, please email staff@thepaintedturtle.org.

Each position is also contingent upon a successful background check run by The Painted Turtle.

What are the medical requirements of working at camp?

Because The Painted Turtle is a medical specialty camp, we must take every measure to protect our campers’ health and safety. Painted Turtle staff members and volunteers are required to submit a variety of medical documentation, including proof of childhood vaccinations, an updated physical, and other medical information. We will walk you through everything you will need to submit during the interviewing process.

Staff members are also required to provide proof of a current health insurance plan. The Painted Turtle can suggest resources for low cost health insurance if you do not currently have a plan, but we do not provide health benefits for summer positions.

Duration of Staff Positions

What is the duration of a summer staff position?

To give you a general idea of the summer schedule, our paid Summer Staff positions span from late May to late August, the entire length of the summer. We seek candidates who can make the full summer commitment. Most positions for summer staff members begin at the very end of May and a select number of positions begin earlier (specific start date depends on the position). The Adventure and Waterfront Teams begin mandatory training in late May, one week prior to all-staff orientation. All of our staff members begin with a mandatory all-staff orientation when they arrive, before campers arrive and camp program sessions commence.

I want to apply for a staff position but cannot attend the mandatory orientation at the beginning of the summer.  Can I still work at camp if I can’t attend orientation?

Orientation is mandatory requirement for all staff members. It is an important that we have the time to prepare you for your summer role, and this is also is a valuable time for our team to get to know one another. If you are a student and orientation conflicts with school, consider researching whether your professors will allow you to take your finals early. If you have additional questions about missing orientation, please email staff@thepaintedturtle.org.

I am unable to commit to an entire summer but I still want to get involved: what other opportunities are there?

The Painted Turtle offers many year-round volunteer opportunities. We have volunteers that come from as far as Canada and Australia just to join us for a weekend program or for a week during the summer! Please see our Volunteer Calendar for more details and visit our Volunteers page.

Application Process

How do I apply for a staff position?

Apply online by submitting a Staff and Volunteer Application.

Is there any way to see your program in action before applying for a position?

Absolutely! Volunteering at one of our Fall or Spring Family Weekends is a great way for you to get to know our program, and for us to get to know you. We have a dedicated community of local volunteers and would welcome you to get involved. Please see our camp calendar for more details and submit a Volunteer Application.

Living on Camp

Where will I live, eat and sleep during the summer?

Summer staff members live in program housing or in cabins with fellow team members. Cabin Counselors live in different cabins assigned throughout the summer. Program staff live in program housing throughout the summer.

Both cabin and program housing areas are equipped with bathroom facilities. Staff members have access to refrigerators, as well as access to common area laundry rooms and kitchenettes.

Positions include housing on our campsite in sunny Southern California, clean linens, and three hearty meals a day during camp sessions in our Dining Hall. A salad bar is also offered, and don’t forget the heaping helpings of singing and dancing!

What expenses am I responsible for as a summer staff member?

The main expense you are responsible for is your airfare or travel to and from the campsite. The Painted Turtle provides a shuttle to and from camp to the Los Angeles International Airport at designated times for your initial arrival and end of summer departure. All staff members live on-site and housing is included.

Your largest expense while at camp might be any extra travel/recreation you might choose to do while in California during your time off, as well as any meals you purchase during time off in between sessions. Other expenses might include personal items you will need to bring to camp such as a one-piece swimsuit, bug spray, etc.

Health insurance is not provided and is your own responsibility to obtain.

Questions about international staff members or individuals applying from outside California

I am not from California. Am I eligible to apply for a position at The Painted Turtle?

Yes! We have individuals from all over the country who join our staff team each year.

I am not from the United States. Am I eligible to apply for a position at The Painted Turtle?

You sure are! Our staff members not only hail from all 50 nifty United States, but also come from many different countries in pursuit of a valuable and meaningful summer work experience. The Painted Turtle hires an internationally diverse group of individuals from across the nation and across the globe. Once you volunteer or work at a SeriousFun Camp, you are part of an internationally connected camp family!

I am from a country other than the United States and will need to apply for a visa. Am I responsible for the visa process?

Yes. You are personally responsible for obtaining your work visa when hired for a summer position. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with this process. Depending on where you are from, we will ask that you use a specific visa company. (We will also provide you with more specific information during the interview process.) The Painted Turtle will remain in contact with you throughout the application process to check in about how everything is progressing.

Does the Painted Turtle offer a Visa stipend for international staff members?

At this time, The Painted Turtle is not able to offer stipends to international staff members.

SeriousFun Children’s Network, Founded by Paul Newman (formerly the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps)

What is the SeriousFun Children’s Network?

The Painted Turtle is a member of the SeriousFun Children’s Network, the world’s largest family of camps for children with medical conditions. At all of these camps, all children attend free of charge.

I am interested in applying to other camps in the SeriousFun Network. Can I apply to more than one camp at a time in the Network?

The Painted Turtle is a part of the SeriousFun Children’s Network, an international network of camps that all serve children with serious medical conditions around the world. Many of our sister camps also offer volunteer and paid staff opportunities and we encourage candidates to apply to multiple camps and pursue the opportunity that best fits their interests. Candidates are permitted to apply and interview with multiple camps. Please note that each camp has its own separate application and interview process. Once an applicant accepts a position at one of the camps, all other position offers are void.

Delta Zeta Sorority and The Painted Turtle

I am a member of the Delta Zeta sorority and am interested in volunteering and/or working at The Painted Turtle.  How do I get involved?

We are so glad to have Delta Zeta members as a part of our staff and volunteer community. Delta Zetas have made a huge impact on our program. In order to get involved, please complete the application process for camp. It’s a good idea to start the process well in advance of the session in which you would like to participate. Please fill out the Staff and Volunteer Application and we will contact you about scheduling an interview. You can apply to work or volunteer for us anytime through our online application. Applications for volunteer positions are reviewed year-round, while staff positions are reviewed starting in January of each year.

Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity and The Painted Turtle

I am a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity and am interested in volunteering and/or working at The Painted Turtle. How do I get involved?

We are so glad to have Phi Kappa Tau members as a part of our staff and volunteer community. Many of your members have already made an impact on our program, and some of them even made a video about the great experience they had at camp.

The Phi Kappa Tau Foundation generously offers travel stipends to members of Phi Kappa Tau who travel to volunteer at a Hole in the Wall Camp. You must apply for the stipend 30 days before you plan to go. However, you will also need to complete the application process for camp, so it’s a good idea to start the process well in advance of the session you plan on participating in. Please fill out the Staff and Volunteer Application and we will contact you about scheduling an interview. You can apply to work or volunteer for us anytime through our online application. Applications for volunteer positions are reviewed year-round, while staff positions are reviewed starting in January of each year.

More information

I am seeking more information about your job opportunities for use in a career center. Can you send me brochures, flyers, or other materials?

The Painted Turtle will be happy to provide resources to your job seekers. Flyers, brochures, a copy of our camp video, and other resources are all available upon request. Please send an email to staff@thepaintedturtle.org to request additional information.

How can I stay updated about The Painted Turtle news and events?

Consider joining our Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/paintedturtlecamp

Staff Testimonials

  • “I couldn’t think of another way I’d rather spend my summer.”
  • “I feel the time I have spent at The Painted Turtle has been an amazing experience of fun and growth that has had a profound impact on my life.”
  • “Three months of helping kids realize that they can do anything they set their minds to. Three months of working with some of the most amazing people from all around the world. Three months of hoping to change a life but having mine changed instead. The best three months of my life.”
  • “The Painted Turtle has given a gift to every single person who has come through those gates; the ability to be your best self and be proud of who you are. I have seen and experienced how spending just one week at camp can change your life. For most campers, The Painted Turtle gives them the ability to live their lives to the fullest despite anything that may stand in their way. I love being a part of the team that creates this magic.”
  • “My experience last summer was absolutely transformative for me. It was the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I think I’ve ever done. Unlike any other time in my life, I felt like every good quality I had inside of me came shooting out and all my skills and talents were put to use for one incredible purpose.”
  • “Working on the summer staff team at The Painted Turtle was an experience I will never forget.  I was born and raised in a small community and haven’t traveled much in my life.  After a summer at The Painted Turtle, I now have close friends in virtually every region of the United States, and I keep in touch with many of them on a regular basis.  Most of us are studying different subjects or working in unrelated fields, but we all shared the desire to do something amazing with our time.  I believe that many of us have become friends for life.”