Farewell to Campfire Nights: Managing the End-of-Season Campground Shutdown

In our last post, we addressed what campers can expect when going to camp and some pro tips about bed bugs at camp. In this follow-up post, we will talk through camp administration closing out the camp season well. Camp administration should follow this series of steps to ensure proper closure of the camp season and preparation for the next camp season. 

Here are some essential tasks that camp administrators typically undertake:

  • Feedback and Evaluation: Gather feedback from campers and their parents to evaluate the camp’s performance. Hold a debriefing session with camp staff to discuss what went well and what could be improved. This can aid in identifying training needs for the next season. Show appreciation to the staff, volunteers, and anyone else who contributed to the camp’s success. Consider hosting a thank-you event or sending personalized notes of appreciation.
  • Financial Review: Conduct a financial review to assess the camp’s budget, expenses, and revenue for the season. This will help in planning for the next season of camp and making any necessary adjustments.
  • Inventory and Maintenance: Take inventory of camp equipment, supplies, and facilities. Identify any items that need repair or replacement and schedule maintenance activities to keep the camp in good condition. Be sure the buildings are pest-free and clean. Especially do a thorough investigation for bed bugs.
  • Documentation and Reporting: Complete all necessary paperwork, including camper registration records, medical forms, incident reports, and any required documentation for regulatory compliance. Ensure that any sensitive camper or staff data is appropriately stored and protected in compliance with data privacy regulations.
  • Future Planning: Start planning for the next camp season, including setting dates, themes, and activities. Review the camp’s goals and make adjustments based on the feedback received. Begin marketing and promotional activities for the next camp season, including updating the camp website, creating brochures, and engaging with potential campers and their families. Consider organizing off-season events or activities to maintain connections with campers and keep the camp community engaged throughout the year.
  • Closing Procedures: Clean and sanitize all facilities, including cabins, dining halls, bathrooms, common areas, and activity spaces. Turn off or disconnect electrical appliances and equipment to save energy. Ensure all water sources are properly shut off to prevent leaks or water damage. If the camp operates on rented or leased land, ensure the site in the same condition as when the camp began.
  • Safety and Security: Conduct a thorough safety inspection of all facilities to identify any hazards or potential risks. Review the camp’s safety protocols and security measures, making any necessary improvements to ensure the well-being of campers and staff in the future.

By completing these tasks, camp managers can wrap up the current season well and lay the groundwork for a successful camp experience in the following year.

Expanding on one of the most important areas of maintenance, let’s talk about preventing and dealing with bed bugs. Most campers and their parents will be reluctant to send their child or teen back to a camp where they encountered bed bugs. Every camp should have regular procedures during the camp season to ensure families don’t take extra hitch-hikers (bed bugs) home with them. These procedures are an essential aspect of camp closure to ensure a pest-free environment when the camp reopens for the next season. 

Here are some steps camps should take to guard against bed bugs during the shutdown:

  1. Thorough Inspection: Before closing down, conduct a comprehensive inspection of all camp buildings, cabins, furniture, and bedding to check for any signs of bed bug infestation. Early detection is crucial for effective control.
  2. Cleaning and Decluttering: Ensure that all areas are thoroughly cleaned and decluttered. Remove any unnecessary items as clutter can provide hiding spots for bed bugs.
  3. Laundry and Dryer Treatment: Launder all bedding, linens, and clothing used during the camp season in a dryer on medium temperatures for at least 15 minutes to kill any bed bugs or eggs. 
  4. Vacuuming: Vacuum all areas, including mattresses, carpets, and upholstered furniture, paying special attention to seams, crevices, and cracks where bed bugs might hide. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter for better efficiency. Dispose of vacuum contents immediately to avoid possible spreading of bed bugs to other areas of the camp.
  5. Sealing Mattresses and Furniture: Encase mattresses and box springs with bed bug-proof covers to prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping. Seal any cracks or gaps in furniture and walls to eliminate potential hiding spots.
  6. Pest Control Treatment: Consider purchasing a bed bug heater to treat each room of the camp to exterminate bed bugs effectively. Owning a bed bug heater will save the campground a lot of money over time. It can be used again and again as bed bug problems arise.
  7. Educate Staff: Train camp staff on how to identify signs of bed bugs and what to do if they encounter any during the camp season or closure.  The camp can purchase a ZappBug Oven to treat camper’s items that may be infested with bed bugs.
  8. Preventive Measures: Implement preventive measures, such as regular inspections and staff training, to reduce the risk of bed bug infestations in the future.
  9. Record Keeping: Keep detailed records of all pest control activities and inspections. These records will be helpful in tracking any issues and ensuring that appropriate measures are taken each year.
  10. Communication with Campers and Parents: Inform campers and their parents about the camp’s bed bug prevention and control efforts. Provide guidance on how they can protect themselves and their belongings from bed bugs during camp and when returning home.

By following these precautions and practices, camps can significantly reduce the risk of bed bug infestations and maintain a safe and pest-free environment for campers and staff. Having a set procedure for bed bugs will also prevent negative reviews for the campground.

Our staff has been asked many important questions regarding bed bugs after treatment:

Q: Why am I still seeing bed bugs after the treatment?

A: Room treated with chemicals:  About 50% of bed bugs are resistant to chemicals they are being treated with.  Also, bed bug treatments using chemicals need to be retreated after about 4 weeks.

A: Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs: The room had cold spots for bed bugs to hide in or the temperature was not held long enough or high enough to kill all of them.

Q: How long does it take for bed bugs to die after treatment?

A: Chemical: Depending on the chemical, it could take up to 4 weeks, and in some cases, if the bed bugs are resistant to the chemical, they will never die.

A: Heat Treatment: Bed bugs die within 90 minutes once the area they are in reaches 121 degrees and quicker at higher temperatures. Every crack and crevice needs to be above 121 degrees.  

Q: When can I put bedding back after treatment?

A: Chemical: After the chemical is dry or when the company who did the treatment instructs you to move items back in.

A: Heat Treatment:  After the temperature drops under 80 degrees in the treatment area.

Q: What steps do I need to take after bed bug treatment?

A: Chemical:  Wipe down surfaces in the cooking area and wash dishes. Vacuum rooms and furniture that were affected by bed bugs and wash all bedding. Schedule a follow-up inspection and treatment if needed.

A: Heat Treatment:  Wait until the temperature returns to below 80 degrees. Vacuum rooms that were treated. Resume normal activities.

A well-executed camp closure involves a combination of meticulous planning, diligent organization, and a commitment to preserving the camp’s integrity and safety. By completing these thorough closing procedures, you not only ensure the well-being of your campers and staff but also set the stage for a seamless and successful camp reopening in the coming year. Your dedication to maintaining a clean, secure, and welcoming environment underscores your commitment to providing memorable and enriching experiences for all who pass through your camp’s doors.

Thank you for your dedication and hard work in making each camp season a remarkable journey. We have provided many talking points for you and your staff.  If you need extra help or other questions answered, please feel free to call our National Sales Representative (844-364-3281) who has been in the Pest Control Industry for over 30 years. He is an expert in the business and would be happy to give you one-on-one help in preparing your camp for a successful year next year.