Healthcare Challenges of Minnesota’s North Woods

As in any geographic area, program participants are exposed to risks associated with location. While our program has developed risk reduction strategies we rely on the help of parents and villagers so these strategies are as successful as possible. Even then, because these are inherent risks, there are no guarantees of success. Of particular note are the following:

  • Poison ivy is part of our natural flora. Instruct your villager to keep to Village paths and tell a counselor or Health Center staff about red, itchy patches of skin. Villagers who participate in overnight camping have a greater risk of exposure to this obnoxious plant. If your villager is especially sensitive to poison ivy, teach your child to identify the plant, advise the child to sit upwind during campfire programs and consider use of a barrier cream (talk with your pharmacist) as a preventive measure.
  • Dealing with mosquitoes is part of our location. Especially active at dawn and dusk, there will be more mosquitoes when our weather is warm and wet. Help minimize mosquito bites by providing your child with an insect repellent with about 30 percent DEET. Teach your child how and when to apply their repellent. Cabin counseling staff reminds villagers to put on repellent. Your child should talk with his or her counselor if his or her repellent is not effective. Villagers can buy spray that is 30 percent DEET at the Village store. While preventing bites is our goal, the Village Health Center has calamine lotion and aloe gel available during office hours to help ease itching.
  • Avoiding wood ticks is difficult because both the common dog tick and the small deer tick are in our area. Teach your villager to do a daily “tick check.” In particular, villagers should check their hair and hairline, groin, auxiliary area, back and behind the ears. A tick that is merely crawling on a person poses little concern; those that attach to the skin should be removed. You may teach your child to remove ticks that attach, but it is our preference that villagers come to the Village Health Center to do so. Appropriately using an insect repellent with at least 30 percent DEET, a practice supported by the AAP, minimizes tick bites.
  • Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Our program monitors for signs and symptoms of a tick-borne illness, especially Lyme disease. Carried by some deer ticks and transmitted when the tick finishes feeding and disengages from the person’s skin, the potential for Lyme disease can be minimized by effective use of repellents, daily tick checks (to interrupt the feeding before the tick is done), and wearing appropriate clothing when in tick-heavy areas. Contact Health Services if you have questions about Lyme disease.
  • Animals of the North Woods. Raccoons, skunks, bats, squirrels, deer and other animals live in the Village environment. While wonderful to watch in their natural environment, please talk with your villager about moving away from animals when inadvertently encountered and to avoid touching them. The Language Villages follows Minnesota Department of Health Recommendations related to rabies prophylaxis should an exposure to an animal occur.
  • Avoiding sunburn. Most of our activities are done outside, so be sure your villager brings and knows how to use sunscreen. At minimum, an SPF 30 product is recommended. We consider sunburn a preventable injury and will minimize this health risk as much as possible.
  • Dressing for the weather. Northern Minnesota’s weather can vary from hot and muggy to quite chilly, from sunny and warm to drizzly and damp. Your villager should bring everything recommended on the packing list, including three blankets and rain gear.
  • Staying hydrated. Talk with your child about drinking enough fluids. Outdoor activities are generally quite active, so drinking enough is a constant challenge and is the reason why a water bottle is on our packing list.
  • Fluctuating weight. A lot of outdoor activity also means that villagers may experience fluctuation in their weight. Most often this ranges plus or minus five pounds during a two-week stay.
  • Eating enough at mealtime is important. Some children don’t understand that it’s OK to ask for more food. Please talk with your villager and explain that counselors at his or her table will help get more food if anyone at the table is still hungry. Villagers simply need to ask.

Questions about Healthcare?

You are encouraged to contact Language Villages’ health services, especially if special arrangements are needed to support your child’s stay in our program. Such requests are needed at least four weeks prior to your child’s arrival.

Health Services
8630 Thorsonveien NE
Bemidji, MN 56601
Direct Line: (218) 586-8771
Fax: (218) 586-8770
Email: health@cord.edu
Main Office: (800) 450-2214