Lice at Summer Camp

Every summer, children across America head to camp, whether overnight or day camp. Why is there so much lice at summer camp?

If you want to know how to identify lice early and even potentially avoid lice at summer camp this summer, read on!

Why is lice at summer camp such a problem? Well, if you’re one of the parents (like me) who spends considerable time every day scouring a camp website for pictures of your beloved children, you probably already know that summer camp friends spend a lot of time hugging. The unintended consequence of hugging is head to head contact. If your child is hugging friends and one of them has lice, it’s potentially going to spread from person to person. Now, we can tell our kids not to hug their friends, but…being realistic, that’s not likely going to happen. Here are some tips for lice avoidance that you can use during the summer and all year round:

  1. Instruct your child that they should “do their best” to avoid head to head contact with friends. “Hello hugs” can be done so as to avoid directly touching heads.
  2. Have your child wear their hair back at camp. Loose flying hair is a greater target and increases the risk of transmission.
  3. Use a leave-in deterrent (I love peppermint detangler…especially in the summer!).

IF someone gets it despite your best efforts in 1, 2 and 3 above, you can still keep it from spreading. A proper head check is done using a GOOD nit comb to comb through damp hair. By regularly checking PROPERLY you will “head off” a problem before it spreads through the family. I strongly suggest doing this weekly.

You might ask, “What else can I do?”

If your child is attending overnight camp, you’re going to want to check them before they leave. Most overnight camps hire teams of lice specialists to screen campers when they get to camp. If your child enters camp with lice, they will spend their first day getting treated instead of catching up and bonding with friends. That’s no fun at all. In addition, you’re likely to receive a bill for the service. Some services charge in excess of $300 PER HEAD! Yikes!

If your child is in day camp you’ll be doing those head checks all summer. If your child is at overnight camp, regardless of any screening that the camp does before they leave, you will want to do a proper head check upon their return. Visual screening (which is what those teams do) can be inaccurate, especially with relatively new cases.