Celebrating 28 Years of Hope

Camp Collage

The Arthritis Foundation, Pacific Region began Camp Esperanza in 1986 as an overnight camp for kids 7-17 years old with juvenile arthritis and related diseases. “Esperanza” is Spanish for “hope”.  Camp Esperanza was originally initiated in 1985 by two nurses who believed that all children, regardless of their physical limitations, should have the opportunity to attend summer camp.

Camp Esperanza is sponsored by the Pacific Region of the Arthritis Foundation, and is held at 2 different locations. The original location: YMCA Camp Harold F. Whittle, near Big Bear Lake, hosts our Teen Leadership session for campers between the ages of 15-17. The Painted Turtle Camp location has hosted our main session for campers 7-16 since 2009. Today, over 150 children and teens with arthritis or a related disease attend Camp Esperanza each year.

Camp Esperanza offers an opportunity for children with arthritis and related diseases to enjoy all the wonders of a traditional camp experience in a comfortable, medically supervised environment. Camp provides well-planned, safe activities that are fun and challenging.  Programs are designed to help campers make new friends, feel part of a group, develop confidence, and discover new skills and interests.  Activities include: horseback riding, swimming, arts & crafts, canoeing, archery, ropes/challenge course, campfires and team building activities.

Staff at both camp locations is composed of volunteers, Arthritis Foundation staff, and medical professionals. As well, both camp locations employ full-time staff to run camp programming and operations. All volunteers are selected because of their experience with and interest in working with children who have a chronic disease.  Our counselors serve as positive role models who participate in all camp activities and provide friendship to the campers. Our medical staff consists of rheumatologists, rheumatology nurses and other healthcare professionals who are available on-site, twenty-four hours a day.

Camp Esperanza Dates

Session 1, Camp Esperanza @ The Painted Turtle (ages 7-16):                 July 2-7 *Canceled!

Session 2, Camp Esperanza Teen Leadership (ages 15-17):                      August 11-15


For volunteer opportunities please email Jennifer Ziegler at or call 323-954-5760 x 243.

For more information or if you have any questions please contact Jennifer Ziegler,
Arthritis Foundation Program Director (and past Camp Esperanza camper)
at 1-800-954-CURE (2873) or

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