The Camp Directors Guide to Bed Bug Prevention

March 9, 2020
Photo courtesy of CDC/ Harvard University

Let’s face it, camp directors juggle a lot. Parents are looking to you to provide an engaging, educational, and safe environment. Some safety precautions may seem obvious: helmets on the zip line, certified lifeguards, food safety measures. Others, less so. As leaders in the camp bedding industry for over 25 years, we are here to help you provide protection to both your campers and your facilities from a tiny but serious visitor.


What is a bed bug?

Cimex Lectularius. Entomologists identify bed bugs are small flightless insects that feed on mammals. These little insects are roughly ¼” long and shaped like a flattened oval or, about the size of a large freckle. Red brown in color, these creatures can carry up to 28 human pathogens. Surviving in a variety of extreme climates and conditions, bed bugs can go up to one year between meals.


Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are most commonly thought of in mattresses. And in many cases, this is where they live. Mattresses with open-weave fabrics and residential tape-edge style seams are like the Taj Mahal to a bed bug. However, bed bugs can hide in a variety of places: cracks in the furniture, blankets and bedding, behind picture frames, and inside power outlets, just to name a few.

Signs of bed bugs on a traditional mattress


How do I spot bed bugs in my camp cabins?

More often than not, the first thing you will notice won’t be a scurry of little bugs across your cabins.  Some tell-tale signs of bed bugs are:

  • black or red-brown spots on your mattress (bed bug fecal material) particularly in the areas around the seams
  • Campers who complain of bug bites early in the morning: particularly on the hands, feet, and waistline as these are the areas of skin most often exposed during sleep
  • Small white eggs or molted bed bug shells in the mattress, carpet, furniture, or bedding

Because camps often turn over their clientele every 1-2 weeks, summer camps are particularly vulnerable to a full-blown infestation before the bed bugs are noticed and dealt with.  It only takes one person to bring in enough bed bugs to infest an entire facility in a matter of weeks.


One Camper Can Bring in Enough Bed Bugs to Infest an Entire Facility


How do I prevent bed bugs at my camp?

Lucky for you, there is some good news. There are things you can do to prevent bed bugs from taking over your facility. Because we know that mattresses are just one piece of the puzzle, American Bedding has put together a bed bug prevention checklist to help you protect your facility on all fronts. Some of these tips include:

Download the American Bedding Bed Bug Prevention Checklist


Why are bed bugs so hard to get rid of?

Once a camp has bed bugs, they can be very difficult to eradicate.  Bed bugs are largely impervious to extreme climate changes, often resist treatment by traditional pesticides, and only require one blood meal per year to survive.  This means that even seasonal organizations like summer camps are at risk of infestation. Because of their tiny size and nocturnal habits, they can be difficult to exterminate: choosing to spend their days hiding away in small crevices that make it impossible for camp directors, or even professional exterminators to access.


What do I do if my camp has bed bugs?

Through decades of research, American Bedding has determined some helpful tips to help camp directors facing a bed bug infestation at their facility.

  1. Hire a professional heat treatment company.  Traditional chemical exterminators are poorly equipped to deal with a bed bug infestation.  In order to effectively eradicate all bed bugs, professional heat treatment is a costly, but necessary remedy.
  2. Replace all your mattresses with certified bed bug proof camp mattresses
  3. Replace wooden furniture with bed bug resistant metal furniture



Bed bugs are on the rise in the U.S. Once you have them, getting rid of them can be difficult and expensive. The cost of extermination alone can be enormous, not to mention the hit your reputation can take as “that camp that had bed bugs.”  Prevention is the best policy.  Need help outfitting your camp with bed bug proof products? American Bedding can help. Call us at (800) 203-2507 to speak with a qualified sales professional who can help you find out exactly what products you need to protect your camp today.

ACA was not involved in the creation of this content and does not imply an endorsement of products/services.