Summer Camp Checklist: Protecting Your Kids from Ticks and Mosquitos

Anne Mochulsky

Summer camp is a rite of passage for many kids and parents. Excitement, nervous anticipation, apprehension and overwhelming exuberance merely scratch the surface of the range of emotions parents experience leading up to the first day of camp. Towards the top of every list is something all parents should consider: using a safe and effective repellent to protect children from mosquitos and ticks.  

Bugs, s’mores, and canoeing are all part of the camp experience. But tick and mosquito bites and the vector-borne illnesses that can result, are the “camp activities” no one wants to sign up for. The best thing to do to ensure campers have the best time at camp starts with protecting them from the biting-insect hazards that can spoil the whole experience.  

This checklist will help to choose the best kid safe bug spray and recommend additional protective measures kids can take to ensure that new friends, joyful memories, and a new sense of confidence are what they bring home, instead of complications from a mosquito or tick bite.

1) Research the Camp’s Location

Before packing for any situation, you’ll want to know as much as you can about the area, including the mosquito and tick intensities in that part of the country. Different settings and environments have different insects kids will have to deal with. Wooded areas are ripe for ticks and mosquitos, while more coastal locations tend to host more mosquitos and biting flies.

2) Call the Camp

Most camps will send home information about what to bring, essentials to pack, and even what to expect if it’s a child’s first visit. Many camps will list recommended mosquito and tick repellent, but often don’t include educational material on camp procedures and existing precautions.

Talk to the camp director and ask if they have kid safe mosquito repellent and kid safe tick repellent on hand for all campers to use, and how they ensure campers will have it applied properly. Even if the campers have their own mosquito and tick repellent, they may forget to put it on, or they may need to reapply after swimming, boating or a long sweaty, day in the summer heat.

3) Pack a Kid Safe Bug Spray

No parent wants to expose their children to potentially harmful material, and the same goes for choosing the right repellent for camp and outdoor activities.

Ranger Ready is a picaridin insect repellent proven to provide up to 12-hours of mosquito and tick protection. It also protects against biting flies, chiggers, gnats, fleas, and no-see-ums, and unlike bug sprays that contain DEET, picaridin is not a neurotoxin and won’t damage any camping gear. It is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and safe to use on children over one year old.

A natural repellent like Oil of Lemon and Eucalyptus will only protect against mosquitos for up to six hours and is generally not and effective tick repellent, which can leave kids exposed to some dangerous tick-borne diseases.

4) Bring Long Pants, Sleeves and Socks

If your child is going to be in the woods, especially in the northeastern, northern midwest or western states, the threat of contracting Lyme disease is very real. It’s a good idea to put long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and high socks on the packing list, especially when activities include hiking or camping in wooded or grassy areas where ticks thrive.

5) Perform Nightly Tick Checks 

Using a kid safe tick repellent will keep campers from being bitten, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Teach children how to look for ticks on the body including all of the areas they can see and feel. Pack a small camp or travel mirror, so they can check places they can’t see. Ticks like to burrow in warm crevices, so make sure to check under the arms, behind the ears, the back of the knees, and in the groin area. 

6) Make a Daily Reminder

The most important way to protect campers from mosquitos and ticks is with a proven, kid safe repellent. Make sure campers know how to properly apply their repellent, and create a routine that will help them to remember to apply first thing in the morning before the fun starts.

Going away to camp for an extended period is not always easy. Family pictures and other items from home can help kids settle in to their new place and provide an opportunity to remind them of the important things they need to do every day. Make a homemade frame with a family photo they can put near their bed, decorated with things they won’t be reminded of by parents: Brush your teeth, change your underwear, and put on your bug spray!

Happy camping!