Camp Hess Kramer, like other sleep-away camps this summer, sent home children with influenza-like symptoms during its first session. But no children were sent home from the camp after July 15, the start of its second session.
The reason could lie in a new product Hess Kramer began using during the second session: a hand sanitizer called SkinWear, which has a non-alcohol base. Whereas alcohol-based hand sanitizers, such as Purell, kill germs only until the alcohol evaporates — an estimated 15 seconds — SkinWear functions as a kind of protective glove over the hand for longer periods of time (eight hours or four hand washings, according to the manufacturer).
SkinWear founding partner Tom Guzek said the product is usually sold to health care or food service industries, but its use has increased in schools, especially in light of the current swine flu scares.
Mike Kopulsky, whose company, Front Line Sales, distributes the product, introduced the idea of SkinWear to the summer camp.
“My son is a senior counselor, so when I dropped him off for camp, I could see they were bringing all the Target bags with the alcohol-based sanitizers,” Kopulsky said.
It could not be confirmed that Hess Kramer’s decrease in flu cases were directly tied to SkinWear, however. Whereas numerous other camps mix children of all ages during both sessions, at Hess Kramer the first session is exclusively for third- to seventh-graders, while the second caters to seventh- through 10th-graders.
“From what I’ve been told, there’s more resistance to influenza in the older kids,” said Doug Lynn, Hess Kramer’s director. “They are also more hygienic to begin with than the younger kids, and we are using a new product, so I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint what the overriding factor was.”
Not that Lynn is going to discontinue using SkinWear anytime soon.
“I’m going to keep on using this stuff, because whatever we are doing it’s working,” he said.
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