Of the estimated 476,000 people diagnosed with Lyme and tick-borne diseases in the United States each year, 25 percent of those are kids. That’s a staggering 326 children diagnosed with these debilitating diseases each day! And because children ages five to 14 make up an especially high-risk group (per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it is crucial that campers — and the counselors responsible for them — understand the risk and how to stay safer.
Preventing tick bites is a critical step in preventing Lyme and tick-borne diseases from becoming serious health conditions.
One of the best ways to prevent tick bites is to perform routine tick checks during and after time spent outdoors. Yet only one in 10 kids regularly does a tick check!
What Camp Counselors Need to Know
Ticks carry more than just Lyme Disease. They can transmit other pathogens known as coinfections. Ticks can’t jump or fly and typically crawl from the ground up looking to attach themselves to skin. Nymph ticks, active in the spring/summer, can be as small as poppy seeds and are the ticks most likely to transmit disease.
Easy Tick Prevention
Keeping yourself and your campers tick safe is as easy as D. A. R. E.
- Apply a skin-safe repellent to skin.
- Wear Permethrin-treated clothes, shoes, and socks.
- Wear light-colored clothes (easier to spot ticks) and tuck pants into socks.
AVOID Tick Habitats
Ticks like damp, dark places! When planning outdoor camp activities, think about location and steer campers clear of known tick hangouts, which include:
- Downed logs, leaf piles, tall grass, stone walls, base of trees
- High grass along the edge of fields where they meet the woods
- High grass or weeds bordering paved paths through the woods (stick to the middle of paved paths!). Ticks hang out about knee/waist high and “quest” or reach for you.
REMEMBER tick checks and showers
- Do a tick check after tick habitat exposure — sing the Tick Check Song!
- Campers should shower within two hours after coming inside.
ELIMINATE ticks correctly
- If a camper is bitten, it is crucial to use proper tick removal technique. You’ll need pointed tweezers and something to cleanse the bite site once the tick is removed (alcohol wipes, hot soapy water, etc.).
- Use this step-by-step guide to safely remove (and test) a tick.
Teach Campers the Tick Check Song & Take the Tick Check Challenge
Tick checks are easy and fun when you do them while singing the Tick Check Song after any outdoor activity! Comedic children’s songwriters Louis and Dan and the Invisible Band, in collaboration with PA Lyme Resource Network and Invisible International, created the Tick Check Song to help educate and protect kids from Lyme disease and other debilitating tick-borne diseases.
Made especially for kids, the tick check song (there’s also a video!) walks kids step-by-step through a proper tick check and does it in a way that is fun and engaging. When campers come in from the outdoors, they sing this catchy song (trust us, it’s going to stick in your head!) and check their bodies for ticks.
We’re also inviting you — no matter your age! — to get in front of the camera and record yourself performing your own interpretation of a proper tick check. Participating in the #TickCheckChallenge brings not only light-hearted fun but also an important opportunity to spread tick prevention awareness.
Show us how you check for ticks! We’d love to see you challenge other camps too!
Tick Prep Checklist for Parents & Campers
Download your free Tick Prep Checklist for Parents & Campers!
For more free prevention materials, visit us here.
Amy Tiehel is the program manager for PA Lyme Resource Network’s Dare 2B Tick Aware educational program.
Jill Wichner proudly serves as a board member for PA Lyme Resource Network, a nonprofit dedicated to patient support, education, and advocacy. She is a copywriter and content marketing strategist whose happy place is showcasing your unique voice and message through strategic storytelling and personality-packed content that connects and converts. Learn more at jillwichner.com.