Turtle Camp: Turtle Conservancy, Ojai

Oogway, a female sub-adult Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis niger)

Photos courtesy of Manci Rasmussen

A native Southwestern pond turtle (Actinemys pallida) being examined by a Turtle Conservancy biologists during a survey in the Sespe Wilderness.

Over the summer, from June 25 to July 2, the Turtle Conservancy invited middle school students from Los Angeles County and the surrounding areas to join conservancy staff, camp counselors and volunteers for the organization’s first-ever Turtle Camp held at the Conservation Center in Ojai. Students were immersed in learning about various aspects of turtle conservation and Ojai ecology, including individual chelonian species, conservation management techniques, egg development, the climate crisis and the theory of convergent evolution in giant tortoises. 

Campers look for water bugs in a pond during an overnight camping trip at Piedra Blanca.

For many students, Turtle Camp was their first time away from home. Nevertheless, by the end of their week-long adventure, most campers were wishing that it was not coming to an end.

On the hiking trail at Piedra Blanca for a camping trip.

“The milestones these kids overcome, both in knowledge and personal development, was incredible,” says Assistant Director of Education Manci Rasmussen. “This camp was everything we thought it would be and so much more. We look forward to hosting more summer camps in the future!”