For those nurses starting to forget what sparked their passion for nursing, The Painted Turtle will remind them, says Nursing Director Sheri Carson, RN, MSN, CPNP.
The Painted Turtle is a 173-acre camp and family care center in Lake Hughes, Calif. Its mission is to provide a year-round, life-changing environment and authentic camp experience for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.Carson completes an activity with a camper at the 2008 holiday gathering.
It is a member of the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps founded by actor Paul Newman, which have served more than 164,000 seriously ill children.
The site employs nurses during the summer and accepts volunteer nurses year-round, says Carson, who hopes that sharing nursing opportunities about the organization will continue to stimulate the camps growth.
Q. What is special about this experience for both the families and for the nurses?
A. The Painted Turtle supports childrens medical needs, inspires them to reach beyond their illnesses, and provides care, education, and respite for their families. The nurses give so much, but they walk away receiving so much more. Its the affirmation of why you became a nurse in the first place.To learn more, visit www.ThePaintedTurtle.org or call Sheri Carson, RN, at 661-724-1768, ext. 201.
Q. What is your mission at the camp?
A. The main goal is to ensure that campers have a fun, safe, and empowering experience. Because we are a non-profit organization, and none of our campers and families pay to attend camp, we are extremely reliant on the volunteerism of nurses and allied healthcare professionals. So getting the word out to nurses about potential volunteer and summer-staff nurse positions is very important.
Q. In 2006, The Painted Turtle was accredited by the American Camp Association, and reaccreditation was achieved July 2009. What does this mean to the success of the camp?
A. It was extremely labor-intensive, but it was also an exciting and awesome experience. Our policies and procedures were highly regarded. Because of the children we accept, we have very stringent policies. Children with the following illnesses may attend: severe asthma, severe burns, Crohns and colitis, hemophilia, thalassemia, von Willebrand factor, kidney disease and transplant, limb abnormalities and limb deficiencies, liver transplant, Prader-Willi syndrome, primary immunodeficiency diseases, skeletal dysplasia, rheumatic disease, diabetes, and spina bifida. Additionally, we are proud to welcome children with intensive-care needs, including campers requiring hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, parenteral nutrition, tube-feeding, home ventilators, tracheostomy tubes, and central venous catheters.Back row: Patrice King (volunteer RN), Sheri Carson (Nursing Director), Dr. Shervin Rabizadeh (volunteer GI doc from Cedar Sinai), Nancy Sanchez (volunteer RN)
Front row (kneeling down): Jaci Harrell (volunteer RN), Kirsten Inducil (Administrative support RN), and Tricia Jimenez (volunteer RN). Far right is one of Dr. Rabizadehs sons.
Q. Where do most of the campers come from?
A. The Painted Turtle welcomes children from all ethnic, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds. Almost 90% of campers and families are from California. All camp sessions are illness-specific. Children served are between the ages of 7 to 16 years for our summer sessions, and between the ages of 6 to 16 years for our family weekends.
Q. What qualities make for an ideal nurse at this camp?
A. First and foremost, you have to love kids. You dont have to be a peds nurse, although we prefer nurses with at least some pediatric experience. There is a special way to approach a child. We are looking for that ability to connect with our young campers, and for nurses to be comfortable with their skills.