Dr James Schaller
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Scientist & Parent Concerned About Simplistic
New Jersey Education Outdoors Requirement:
No Awareness of Lyme

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. Mark Twain

*In NJ it is "mandatory" for all sixth graders to have an outdoor environmental experience.

*In NJ college juniors must have an outdoor environmental experience.

*Teachers can also go for up to two weeks for college credit.

Usually they go for several days to one of two campground facilities with cabins that are set up for this type of thing. The staff take everyone on long educational hikes.

Our science supervisor made fun of one (smart!) mom who accompanied her son (parents are asked to volunteer as chaperones) as she went ahead of him spraying foliage and ground with Yard Guard. Of course pesticides are an anathema to environmentalists, at least those of us who have not yet been bitten by a poppy-seed sized deer tick.

I know of several cases where the child or their parent seems to have acquired Lyme disease at one of these "required" environmental education experiences.

When I got my brain back, I refused to allow my last child to go and found (surprise! after making enough noise) that they could elect to do an alternate project at home, however this was never publicized despite parental complaints. Apparently, no one had ever said "NO" before.

I know some think this is a voluntary attendance camp but they appear to be presented as mandatory.

Critically, at no time did these camps and the so-called mandatory summer marching band camps have any Lyme disease prevention information. In my experience, the state of NJ has not ever sponsored any type of Lyme disease or outdoor safety education seminar or materials for the counselors, staff, parent chaperones, or students for these outings. Teachers are not advised of the risks. No literature is sent home to parents about tick-borne diseases, precautions, or other risks.

Parents are not advised this is not mandatory, that children can walk into their back yard or go to the library and make up an environmental education experience, or that children can learn the band routines after the camp, and can elect not to go to the band camp, in a hotbed of Lyme disease in PA.

It is my personal opinion that this is criminal negligence, and is actionable.

Definition: Criminal negligence:

"law: recklessly acting without reasonable caution and putting another person at risk of injury or death (or failing to do something with the same consequences)"

It is also my opinion that a class action suit on behalf of students who had acquired the disease in this manner, would have a good shot, if any one knows of any attorneys so inclined who would advertise etc.

Incidentally, at the last band camp that my daughters did NOT attend, one of the campers was hospitalized a few days due to reactions to a tick bite.

In many states such as NJ, summer camps abound, and I know at least in NJ at local Scout camps for example, no literature or precautions are ever sent home to parents prior to the experience.

I do not know if the band still attends camp. My children elected not to continue in the band after that, but they were already infected (due to a different situation) and on treatment.

There is an educational gap here that should be filled. I cannot imagine how many children have acquired this disease in this manner.

Recently I had a support group member give a presentation to a local summer camp. It is a very old long-standing camp and their counselors had no idea about tick-borne disease consequences. Interestingly, the counselors were not from the USA. The camp has taken to importing them from other countries and then sending them back at the end of the summer (not allowing them to stay over here). The counselors had never heard of tick-borne diseases.

I shudder to think of what happened after they went home.

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Dr. Schaller thanks "OptiMisTick" who is a Scientist & Lyme Patient for His or Her Contribution Above.



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