Camp Volunteer Opportunities

The volunteer program at The Painted Turtle is an incredibly rewarding opportunity to bring joy, laughter and smiles to our deserving campers and families.  The Painted Turtle recruits volunteers for our Family Weekend Programs during the Spring and Fall as well as for our week-long Summer Sessions and hospital and community outreach opportunities.

The Painted Turtle is currently accepting applications for our 2019 Sessions. All new and returning volunteers may apply for 2019 sessions by completing an online application. Click Apply Now for more information and to access the application.  Applications should be submitted at least a month in advance of the session for all first-time volunteers, who will also need to complete a brief phone interview, reference checks, a background check, and meet medical requirements.

Family Weekend Volunteers

Volunteer Pals (2.5 day weekend sessions at our camp site in Lake Hughes):  Family Weekends are an opportunity for campers and their families to enjoy a weekend together at The Painted Turtle. Volunteers play an important role during the weekends by helping families to experience all camp has to offer. Volunteers join us at camp from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon to work as Family Pals or Program Pals.

Family Pals are assigned to one or two families and act as their host at camp. They offer friendship, support, and an extra set of hands.

Program Pals are assigned to run a specific program area, such as Woodshop, Arts and Crafts, or Fishing and Boating. Program Pals facilitate fun and safety during activity sessions. They are also assigned to a family to offer support during meals and evening activities.

Lifeguard & Translators (2.5 day weekend sessions at our camp site in Lake Hughes): The Painted Turtle is always looking for certified lifeguards and Spanish language interpreters to volunteer for all or part of a Family Weekend. Contact our for more information.

Summer Opportunities

Volunteer Cabin Counselors (6-7 day summer sessions at our camp site in Lake Hughes)

Volunteer Cabin Counselors join a cabin team during a summer session to care for, supervise and cheer on campers throughout their time at camp. They encourage friendships and teamwork within the cabin, role model camp spirit, and help campers to get the most out of their camp experience. Our medical team provides any needed medical support so counselors can focus on engaging campers in the activities. Volunteers live in the cabins with 8-10 campers and 3-4 adult counselors. As a volunteer, you’ll contribute to a team-oriented experience of leading your cabin, planning activities, and creating a lifetime of unforgettable memories.

Our 2019 Calendar is live! Please find the updated volunteer dates on our 2019 Calendar. We will start processing summer applications in January 2018.

The Painted Turtle Outpost

The unique outreach program brings the fun and spirit of our camp program into hospital playrooms and community events throughout California.  Individuals who have previously volunteered at The Painted Turtle for a Family Weekend or a Summer Session are eligible for this program.  Learn more at our Outreach Programs page.

Day Events

Day events are open to all our campers and families to enjoy camp for a day. Volunteers run program areas, crafts, games, and other activities.

Application Process

Volunteers who plan to work at sessions with our campers and families are required to:

  • Be at least 19 years of age
  • Have the physical and mental capability to care for campers
  • Complete all pieces of the application process, including online application on Campsite, phone interview, and three references (no family/friends)
  • Complete and submit all medical requirements pertaining to your volunteer opportunity as stated in our “2019 Medical Requirements” form (located on your Campsite Account under the “General” section within “Staff Forms”.
  • Pass a criminal background check (provided by The Painted Turtle) – if US Citizen, The Painted Turtle will run the background check, if from outside of the US you must provide a police certificate or its equivalent that will fulfill our background check requirements. If there are any questions, please contact for questions regarding international background check clearance.
  • Attend an orientation on your scheduled arrival day
  • Commit to the entire length of the volunteer session
  • Work with our staff and volunteer team collaboratively and effectively

Other Volunteer Opportunities

  • Volunteer Days: Each year, we host volunteer days where our corporate partners and general volunteers can bring their team or families to help prepare our beautiful camp site for the arrival of campers.  Light breakfast, lunch and camp tours are provided.  These annual volunteer opportunities include our General Volunteer Day (February), Corporate Volunteer Day (May), and Aerospace Volunteer Day (September). Email to inquire about current opportunities.
  • Partner Days: Camp reserves special work-day projects for corporate partners who make a significant financial impact on the mission of Camp. These days can be tailored to your company’s philanthropic goals and can be used as a remarkable team building experience.  For more information contact
  • Special Performers and Program Guests: Specialty performers and program guests are kid-friendly performers or workshop leaders who contribute unique performances or workshops to a day event at camp. If you have a hobby, talent, or craft that you would like to share, please email Tim Deisler at
  • If you are interested in volunteering with our Equestrian Team and assist with side walking, leading horses in lessons, horse education and activities with campers, or working directly with the horses in our schooling program please contact Lisa Grijalva, Equestrian Coordinator at or (916) 880-0461.
  • Any interest in paid program facilitating roles, including Lifeguarding or our High Ropes Course, please contact our Program Coordinator, Emily Rogers (
  • Youth Volunteers: Volunteers who plan to work at sessions with our campers and families must be at least 19 years of age. If you are currently under the age of 19, there are still many ways to get involved. Read more at Youth Volunteers.
  • Office Volunteers: Do you have a few extra hours a week you would like to donate to a great cause? If you are organized and like administrative projects, we could use your help behind the scenes.
    • If you are 16 years old or older, and would like information about volunteering in our SANTA MONICA office, please email us at
  • Visit our How You Can Help page for other ideas

If you have any questions about volunteer opportunities, please email: Thank you for your interest in volunteering with us!


  • “Volunteering at The Painted Turtle has become my absolute favorite summer activity.  Working closely with such an enthusiastic staff and group of volunteers made me feel right at home, so I was able to jump right into the experience upon my arrival at camp!  Watching the campers experience the magic at events like Stage Night (talent show) and Silly Olympics helped me to witness the healing powers of fun and laughter firsthand.”
  • “Personally, The Painted Turtle has changed me for the better.  I now have a better understanding of what it means to be truly happy, and I also have greater respect for anyone living with a serious illness or disability.
  • “It can be hard work; but it’s really easy because it’s so much fun and the laughter, smiles, hugs and gratitude from the kids make it all worthwhile.  It’s more rewarding that you could ever imagine.  It touches your heart in a way that’s hard to describe.”
  • “All it took was one visit to The Painted Turtle, and I have been hooked ever since.”
  • “Oftentimes at Camp Closing the younger kids are crying because they hate to leave.  Sometimes not only the kids are crying but Mom and Dad as well.  When a father is moved to tears thanking you for what you’ve given their family, you know you’re involved in something really special and you can be proud.”
  • “Volunteering at The Painted Turtle helps me focus on the important things in life, like family, friends, health, community, compassion, laughter, etc.  I no longer let the little things bother me or get rattled when things don’t go as planned.  I just think of the obstacles the campers deal with on a daily basis and it puts things in perspective.”
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