NATURE CAMP POLICY ON HEAD LICE
Nature Camp strives to provide a safe, clean, and healthy environment for all participants, but even we are not immune to the possibility of an infestation of head lice. Campers sleep in close quarters, with up to 16 campers in each section of each bunkhouse. If a camper arrives at Nature Camp with a case of head lice, it can easily be transmitted to other campers, and subsequent infestations may not be detected until after a session has ended. Therefore, it is critically important that you check your camper before s/he comes to Nature Camp to ensure that s/he is free of head lice. In order to protect the health of other campers and staff, Nature Camp reserves the right to dismiss any camper who presents a case of head lice; any such camper will not be permitted to return until the infestation has been properly and effectively treated.
Nature Camp lacks the means, personnel, and time to inspect every camper upon arrival for the presence of head lice. We do, however, take several steps to minimize the likelihood that head lice could spread from camper to camper.
- Sleeping arrangements in each bunkhouse alternate between head-to-toe and toe-to-head orientation, so that the head of one camper is adjacent to the feet of his or her neighbors (though there are 2-3 feet between bunks). This practice also helps to reduce the likelihood of transmission of airborne pathogens between campers.
- Staff emphasize to campers the importance of avoiding head-to-head contact and encourage them not to share brushes, combs, or other hair items, as well as clothing that may come in contact with one’s head.
- Between sessions all mattresses are vacuumed, sprayed with disinfectant, and inspected for damage.
Nature Camp does not provide bedding for campers. In addition to bringing a sleeping bag or sheets and blankets, you may wish to consider furnishing your camper with her or his own mattress cover or pad. We also encourage you to wash all bedding in hot water at the end of your camper’s session.
If Nature Camp receives a verified report of head lice in a camper from an earlier session, all parents of campers in that and any other earlier sessions will immediately be notified and encouraged to check their campers for infestation.
Please note that head lice are not known to transmit disease.
More information about head lice is available from the Centers for Disease Control:
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT TICKS
Ticks are known to spread a number of bacteriological and other diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, as well as the so-called “Alpha-Gal” allergy, a delayed allergic reaction to red meat. Although ticks are not as commonly encountered in and around Nature Camp as they are in some other parts of Virginia, we strongly recommend that you prepare your camper for the possibility of finding a tick and teach her or him how to identify ticks common to Virginia, including blacklegged (deer) ticks, Lone Star ticks, and American dog ticks.
Campers are reminded daily to check themselves for ticks, and we encourage you to emphasize to your camper the critical importance of taking these reminders seriously. It is not possible for the staff to check every camper daily for the presence of ticks, but campers are encouraged to check themselves at least once a day, especially after returning from hikes. A “tick check buddy” is helpful for examining those areas that one cannot easily see oneself, such as the back or head.
Campers are also informed that if any of them finds a tick on his or her person, whether embedded or not, s/he should proceed immediately to the infirmary to have the tick removed (and receive treatment if a bite has already occurred). Nature Camp maintains a tick log to record all tick bites and removals. Any tick removed from a camper is stored in a plastic bag for the remainder of the session and then returned upon check-out so that it may subsequently be checked for the presence of pathogens.
The following information is provided by the American Camping Association (http://www.acacamps.org/knowledge/health/disease/ticks).
DEET-containing products were thought to be a good option for preventing tick bites. However, recent tests have shown that although DEET is an excellent repellent for mosquitoes, black flies and gnats, it’s only effective at repelling ticks for brief time periods after being applied and then must be re-applied. A better option for repelling ticks are “Clothing Only Repellents” such as those containing Permethrin (found in Permanone® Products, Sawyer Clothing-Only Repellent® and Repel®). These products contain about 0.5% Permethin, much less than the amount used to treat head lice on children or Scabies mite infestations of the skin. In the case of tick repellents, using more of the active ingredient than this is unnecessary, and can even lead to chemical overexposure.
You can purchase tick repellent clothes containing permethrin (easiest and most cost-effective) or use sprays and soaking kits to treat your own clothes with permethrin tick repellent. Commercially treated clothing remains tick repellent through 70 wash cycles while treat-at-home sprays and kits provide effective repellency for up to 6 washings. Whichever method you choose, wearing tick repellent clothing makes tick bite protection and disease prevention as easy as getting dressed in the morning!
More information about ticks, tick-borne illnesses, and tick prevention, is available from the American Camping Association:
and the Centers for Disease Control: