Head lice have reappeared over the past few years in schools, camps, and workplaces across the U.S. Self-contained communities like camps are especially vulnerable and must be vigilant to control this problem.
Despite taking precautions, lice still made their way into Camp Heritage during summer camp several years ago. We were able to eliminate them, but it was a very time-consuming, staff-intensive task. We learned that prevention saves a lot of hassle.
During the Registration Check-In Day process, you will meet with a nurse or our trained staff helper. Each camper will have a brief health screening, including a head check for lice. This is a standard procedure that has been occurring at Camp Heritage for years.
Camp Heritage has a No Nit Policy. This means that if it is determined through the head check that a camper has head lice or nits, the camper will not be permitted to attend Camp Heritage. The camper will need to seek treatment for the lice at home. (If your child has had head lice or has been exposed to them within four weeks prior to his/her arrival at camp, please notify us. It is in everyone’s best interest to let the camp know. Please do not keep it a secret!)
Lice are a common problem and not one that occurs from being “dirty.” Lice cannot hop, jump or fly. They crawl. The transmission of lice in most cases is by direct, head to head contact. In the camp setting, it is difficult to keep children from hugging, sitting on each other’s bed or other close-connected activities. That’s part of the fun of camp. What we can stress, however, is not to share hairbrushes, hats and hair accessories.
Prevention Before Camp
• Head Check at Home – We encourage you to have your child checked for head lice BEFORE bringing them to camp. This can avoid a potentially embarrassing situation and a long, sad ride home. Sometimes younger campers have a hard time getting the shampoo and conditioner rinsed out of their hair. The night before camp might be a good time for mom or dad to step in and help make sure their camper’s hair is squeaky clean. The head check process will be simpler if our medical team does not have to determine what is a lice nit and what is a flake of leftover conditioner.
• Prevention Hair Treatment – Use a head lice prevention shampoo or daily leave-in spray. An Internet search will reveal a plethora of options from pricy professional shampoos to do-it-yourself concoctions. (A few drops of tea tree oil added to conditioner is said to do the trick.)
• Educate – Teach your camper to never share brushes or hair accessories. Discourage them from wearing anyone else’s hats, jackets, sweaters, helmets, etc. Encourage them not to lie on other campers’ beds or to touch other campers’ bedding.
• Sanitize – Placing your camper’s clothing, hats, bedding, stuffed animals, etc. in a high-heat dryer for 30 minutes should kill any lice or nits that might be in his/her belongings. Just make sure the items go straight from the dryer to the luggage. (Don’t forget to sanitize hairbrushes, combs, barrettes, etc.) Pack in washable luggage such as a duffle bag or Rubbermaid tote.
• Contain – Bring an extra large garbage bag or two to place your child’s belongings in for the trip home.
• Sanitize – Do not take your camper’s luggage in your house right away; leave it on the porch or in the garage. Take everything straight to the washing machine and dryer. Drying on high heat for 20-30 minutes should take care of any potential hitchhikers.
• Head Check at Home – Check your camper for head lice immediately upon returning home. While all campers were checked at the beginning of camp there is still a slight possibility that your child could bring lice home. (If you find any, be sure to let us know!)
Thank you for your understanding and your support in helping us have a lice-free summer at Camp Heritage!
Resource Web Sites
• CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/index.html
• Kids’ Health: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/common/head_lice.html
• Mothers Against Head Lice: http://www.mothersagainstheadlice.org/