Memorable Family Weekends
How the Mack Family Found Strength at Camp


Family Weekends at The Painted Turtle are a unique time for children with serious medical conditions and their families to come together and meet others who have faced similar challenges. During these three day sessions in the Fall and Spring, Camper Families build a sense of community while enjoying traditional camp activities.

The Mack family has two daughters with serious medical conditions and began coming to Camp in 2007. “When the acceptance letter arrives, we run around the house. We go nuts! It’s a glorious day every single time,” says mother, Nicte.

Nicte has seen her daughters, Lourdes and Diana, grow immensely since coming to Camp. Lourdes in particular is known by staff and fellow campers alike for her ever-growing fearlessness and confidence in herself. During the most recent Family Weekend in the spring, Lourdes hoisted herself up out of her wheelchair to the top of the ropes course with no help from down below to pull her up – quite the feat even for the most experienced ropes course adventurer! “She knows all of her friends are encouraging her to push her limits and prove herself. She wants to be strong when she’s with the other campers—I have a lot to learn from her,” says Nicte.

The impact of a Family Weekend stretches far beyond those three days they spend in Lake Hughes. Outside of Camp, Lourdes and Diana are more confident because of their experiences at The Painted Turtle. When her classmates at school couldn’t believe that something like The Painted Turtle exists, Lourdes was encouraged by a friend to bring photos and videos to the amazement of her peers! “It doesn’t just impact her, it changes the perception of children who have disabilities,” says Nicte.  “It shows that they can do what every other kid can do.”

During difficult times such as hospital visits or preparing for surgeries, the Mack family often draws on the joy of Camp. Lourdes hangs photos of Camp in her room to remind her of her strength. Nicte shared that it is the memories together that carry the family through those tough times throughout the year.

Family Weekends not only benefit the children who attend, but also provide time for parents and family members to unwind and have a moment to themselves.  Nicte remembers their first Family Weekend: “Our Family Pal introduced herself and offered to help. We were like, ‘What is this? Pinch me!’ She offered to take the kids so I could go for a walk. It was so simple but I couldn’t believe it. It was most extraordinary experience.”

“It’s also invaluable to meet other families. You can share about stuff you wouldn’t talk to anyone else about because they just wouldn’t have an understanding. At Family Weekends, you don’t have shame about talking about surgeries or medication or how it feels. It’s like you’re speaking the same language,” says Nicte.

“Camp has been life-changing to us… absolutely.” —Nicte Mack

The Mack family’s stories are just a few of the hundreds of life-changing moments that happen during Family Weekends which exemplify the community, courage, and strength that emerge with the help of Camp’s supportive atmosphere. Thank you to all the families who came to Camp this season, to all our medical and program volunteers for their energy, and for all supporters who make the magic possible!