Summer is right around the corner and your little ones may be headed off to summer camp. It is a magical time for kids to try new things and experience the great outdoors. But of all the memories they bring home, don’t let bed bugs be one.
How Bed Bugs Infest a Summer Camp
If you are wondering how bed bugs make it all the way to a summer camp, there are a number of ways: in luggage, on clothing, picked up at the hotel a child stayed in on the way to camp or on the seat of the bus or airplane.
Bed bugs can live anywhere that they have access to blood. The sleep areas and bunkhouses at summer camp are a perfect environment for bed bugs to thrive. They can hide anywhere in the cabin or within the camper’s belongings and sneak out in the night for a bite.
How to Handle Bed Bugs at Camp
Avoid bed bugs and potentially bringing them home from summer camp with a few simple steps:
- Always ask the camp administrators if they have had any bed bugs or undergone bed bug treatments.
- Research the camp online to see if there are any complaints about bed bugs.
- Teach your child how to inspect their bed closely for any insects along the seams, under the sheets, or in the corners. Also, tell them to look out for blood specks on the sheets which could also indicate an infestation.
- Instruct your child to check all furnishings and behind the headboard in the room. If they spot any bugs, they should immediately notify their camp counselors.
- Send plastic bags to the camp with your child and tell them to keep their clothing, luggage, and backpacks within the bags to reduce the chance of infestation.
- When your child returns home, leave their suitcases outside and thoroughly inspect it before bringing it into the home.
- Immediately wash and dry all their clothing on high to kill any bugs that may have tagged along.
- Vacuum the suitcase and backpack and promptly dispose of the vacuum contents outdoors in the trash receptacle.
- Treat their luggage and your house with a DIY spray as a preventative measure.
Ask to Inspect the Camp
If you feel strongly that your little one will be incapable of inspecting the room for bed bugs, ask to look over the premises yourself. If you are denied entry and don’t feel comfortable with the situation and you can choose to leave and ask for a refund. The camp should have nothing to hide and welcome your inspection.
If the Camp has had Bed Bugs
If the camp is open and honest about having a previous bed bug infestation, do not panic. Ask what steps they took to eliminate the infestation and how long it has been since the last encounter. Remember, bed bugs do not carry diseases. They are a nuisance, but they are not dangerous. If you are comfortable with their answer, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the risk.
Staying in Touch With your Children at Camp
Most camps are located beside a body of water such as a lake or a pond, breeding grounds for mosquitoes. If you call your child at camp and they tell you that they have numerous bug bites don’t assume it is bed bugs. Ask your child if they have been fishing, swimming, or boating and if they are wearing mosquito repellent to keep the bugs away.
Remaining Vigilant After Your Child Returns Home
If you are still concerned that your little one may bring bed bugs home from camp then take the suggested steps. Also, watch your home for signs of an infestation in the weeks following. It could take weeks before you notice bites, blood specks on the bedding, red fecal matter, or shed exoskeletons. Catching the infestation early will save you a lot of time, money and headaches. Summer camp is a fun and fulfilling experience for most children so don’t let your fears of bed bugs hold you back from letting your kids enjoy their time in the great outdoors. Take these simple measures to put your mind at ease and let amazing memories be made.
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