Double the memories: Identical twins Lawrence (left) and
Lucas Lockhart enjoy one of the many moments of fun and
laughter provided by The Painted Turtle, a camp that serves
ill children—and relies on donations to accomplish its
mission. Right, Connection reporter Mark Stroder was all
smiles during his volunteer weekend.
Can’t need not apply here. For at least a when they work together to create something them. Proud of their courage, proud of the
few days out of the year, can runs the show in built of love and human generosity.” way they loved one another and their family.
the lives of these brave kids. Children, camp As one of 30 camp volunteers for the I spent every free moment that weekend
staff and volunteers dance to the beat of a dif- weekend, I was designated as a family pal to asking camp staff the same question: What
ferent drum. If you could bottle up all of the the Lockharts. My two special buddies were makes this place so magical?
positive energy generated during a single 11-year-old identical twin brothers Lucas and “This place has a kind of spell for good-
weekend here and pass it along, you get a Lawrence Lockhart, whobothhave Crohn’s, a ness,” says camp program director Jessica
sense that the world would be a better place. chronic intestinal disease. It was their second Santos, one of 18 full-time Painted Turtle
This year, the camp will welcome more visit to The Painted Turtle. staffers. “Everything that has gone into this
than 650 children, with medical issues rang- We spent a good part of the weekend camp has come from the best of intentions, to
ing from hemophilia to kidney transplants, playing basketball together inside a state-of- create something that ispurely good. It was all
skin disease, Crohn’s disease, colitis and the-art gymnasium donated by the Los done in the name of these children, with love,
sickle-cell anemia. The Painted Turtle hosts Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation. Both boys hope and a passion to make a difference at the
weeklong summer sessions for children and would like to become the next Allen Iverson core. Every rock you see placed, every tree
weekend camps for children and their fami- of the Philadelphia 76ers. (These boys can planted, every quilt, every crayon, every wild-
lies—all free of charge. really shoot the ball well!) flower, every volunteer, was brought to this
The camp, which is located in the They have no real physical limitations. place with the idea that it might put a smile
foothills of Angeles National Forest, just But Crohn’s can be very painful. “I usually feel back on the face of children who are battling
northeast of Los Angeles, hopes to serve more pretty good, but sometimes my stomach a chronic illness.
than 1,000 children and 200 families next hurts really bad,” says Lawrence. “If it happens “So you can’t help but feel all the positive
year.Activitiesinclude fishing,boating, swim- at school, I double over and wait for help energy that is constantly pumped into this
ming, a rope obstacle course, horseback rid- from a teacher or school nurse.” area. There is no room for negativity, no
ing, basketball, wood shop, singing and I asked him why he looks forward to the room for any jealousy or anger. Just love,
dancing, and arts and crafts. camp. “It’s a place to go where you don’t have friendship, hope and courage.”
One thing that’s clear the moment you to worry about what kind of disease you have. I plan to bring my wife, Lillian, with me
begin walking the grounds: A lot of thought— You just have fun. I can forget about a lot of for another volunteer weekend at the camp.
and love—went into the creation of The otherthingsandjustbeakid,” hesaid. Something this special should always be
Painted Turtle. Everything, from the medical “I’m also glad my parents get a chance to shared with your best friend.
facility (nicknamed the Well Shell) to the cab- have a fun weekend and not have to worry Oops, here come the tears again. C
ins to the special-needs swimming pool to the about us for a change.”
dining room, is not only cutting edge, but also His words moved me
intended to make the kids feel welcome. to tears. I wasn’t crying
Homemade quilts grace every bed; each because I felt sorry for Connecting
room in the cabins, and in the Well Shell, has Lawrence and Lucas. They For more information on The Painted Turtle volunteer and
beautiful, hand-painted designs. “This camp wouldn’t want me to do donation opportunities, including sponsoring a child—visit
is what I hope life can be,” says Painted Turtle that. I cried because, even www.thepaintedturtle.org, or call (310) 451-1353. For more
camp director Blake Maher. “It’s a reminder though I had known them information on the other Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, visit
and an inspiration of what people can create only a day, I was proud of www.holeinthewallgang.org.