Helping Overcome Scouts’ Fears to Boost Retention Rates


We’re thrilled that the SansBug has been featured in Ask the Gear Guy section of Boys’ Life magazine under… Stuff we Like!  The SansBug has helped thousands of Scouts and their parents brave through summer camp.  Feedback such as “first time he came home without bites” and “first year he stayed at camp all week” is common with the SansBug.  We strongly believe that the SansBug is an important tool to boost retention rates.

“My personal experience tells me that kids that go to summer camp are much more likely to stay with the Scouting program until they age out.  And Scouts that go to three or more summer camps are much more likely to reach the rank of Eagle Scout.  This is one reason that bug-free sleep is so important.”

– Springfield Scout Leader Scott Newman of

Recruitment is almost always easier than retention.  Nothing beats the old fashioned word of mouth for recruiting youth into Scouting.  It can happen organically by Scouts telling other youth of the rock climbing they did last weekend, or the model rockets they’re going to launch at the next troop meeting, or the wicked camp they went to last summer where they had whitewater rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, zip-lining, kayaking and so much more.  Parents can also tell other parents of how Scouting has had a positive impact on their child.  Those experiences can then be used in ad campaigns to amplify the word of mouth marketing.

But once you get youth to join, how do you make sure they stick around?  The outdoors is a major part of scouting; it’s not just about dull meetings in a basement or selling popcorn.  However, fewer and fewer kids are spending time outdoors… kids today spend an average of 7 minutes a day playing outdoors vs. 7 hours in front of a screen.  How much of that outdoors has green space is another issue but the disconnect with nature makes many kids anxious about bugs, insects, spiders, or even the dark.  Getting Scouts who have these fears to stay at camp for the whole week is difficult, much less expecting them to return the following year.  Are they just going to tolerate camp one year or will they look forward to next year?

Paul Kautz of is a Red Cross authorized provider of CPR/AED and Wilderness First Aid training and Master Educator of Leave No Trace.  He was a Scoutmaster for 7 years and he knows of a few young scouts just starting out who missed some great campouts because they were scared of the bugs.

Providing a safe cocoon at night when most critters are active has helped thousands of Scouts enjoy summer camp.  Netting draped over poles has always been there but critters are still able to come in through the floorboards.  And it’s not just about not being able to sleep because daddy long legs is looking down at you from the corner of the canvas tent, mosquitoes can come in through the floorboards and spread disease or at the very least keep you up by buzzing in your ear all night.  The SansBug has a sewn-in floor so it’s totally enclosed.

“Life changing! My son has a bug issue this year so we got him one of these and it’s working out great for him!”

“First year he stayed at camp all week!”

It’s not just the kids, even the grown ups take comfort from the instant refuge.

“There were flying cockroach looking bugs that came out at night, but my daughter and I slept securely knowing no bugs were going to crawl on us.”

If you can help conquer or at least manage Scouts’ (and their parents’) fears, they can then focus on learning new skills and enjoying the outdoors and camping.

Mobile Pop up Catio

mobile catio

Being cooped up inside for 2 months, we now have a taste of what our cats feel like.  Walking around the block or spending more time in the yard was a welcome relief from the lockdown-generated back pain.  But don’t you feel guilty when the kitties are sitting on the window sill looking outside at you?

If cats are not provided a stimulating and exciting environment, behavioral and psychological issues can arise.  Unlike in European countries, where cats spend the majority of their time outdoors, most Americans keep their cats strictly indoors.  It has thus been noted that American cats suffer more from anxiety and stress related issues.  Since one of the top reasons given for surrendering cats to shelters is behavior problems, it is important to provide sufficient stimulation for indoor cats.

Catios (outdoor cat enclosures) provide a nice balance of indoor and outdoor living without the risk.  But if you don’t have yard space or are renting, a permanent structure in the backyard or even your balcony may not be possible.  If you have calm cats who are not shredders, the SansBug provides a cost-effective way to provide some secure outside time, supervised of course.  You can keep their toys, food, water, bed and litter box in it for hours of fun “outdoors.” Unlike other pop-up tents made specifically for cats, the SansBug has a solid floor so it also blocks out bugs.

The SansBug would also work great to contain cats indoors when you’re renovating your home or to prevent them spraying or scratching the hotel room when traveling.  Hotels can charge a lot of money for that.  It would especially come in handy for breeders when they travel to cat shows.  When you’re at a cat show, your cats must have had their nails trimmed as the judges won’t let a cat scratch them so the SansBug would hold up since the cat won’t have sharp claws to tear the netting.

Kate Benjamin, cat style expert, prefers the SansBug as an alternative to the clunky, finger-pinching cage to prevent her cats from running all over her studio which has lots of hiding places when she has to bring them in to work.  You can see a couple of her kitties hard at work testing out their new fort!

Don’t be surprised when one of your kitties immediately takes over the SansBug as soon as you pop it open!  The SansBug is tall enough for a small cat tree and gives the kitties lots of light and visibility so you can place it by a window.  The waterproof tarp floor is also very easy to clean.  If need be, you can just take the net outside and hose it down.

It also works very well to contain litters of kittens.  Mary has been using the SansBug for a while now for kitten containment and it’s working out great for her:

Racing on the Big Muddy

kayak bug tent

How many of us are ready to take a week off work to paddle down the Missouri River?  Not your typical Huckleberry Finn float trip, but paddling from one end of Missouri to the other in America’s longest continuous river race which has to be completed within 88 hours (about 3 1/2 days) across 340 miles of water, heat and bugs!

You’ll start at Kansas city from where Lewis and Clark plunged into unknown territory and snake your way back towards St. Louis while dodging river traffic, parked barges, buoys, wing dams, bridge piers and 15 lb fish that fly out of the water into your canoe/kayak and if they hit you, can cause dislocated shoulders and concussions, all the while making sure you’re eating, staying hydrated (and ummm…. finding ways to relieve yourself) and avoiding sunburn.

To be competitive you’ll have to skip some sleep so by the second night, you will start hallucinating and might see mermaids or tree people.  You will question what madness you have got yourself into and you will probably cry.  By the time you’re done with the race, you will have a raw posterior (if you didn’t have a comfortable seat) and will need 4 showers before your family allows you back into your home.

Whatever your reasons for doing this, by the time you finish (if you do), you will be a changed person. This is the third year that Darrin will be using the 1-person SansBug in the annual MR340 (Missouri River 340 miles):

After 20 years in the Marine Corps and hip injury I can’t get out and run like I used to. The race still keeps me active and when done I know I’ve accomplished something most others wouldn’t try.  Pretty cool getting your picture at the finish line.

On some sections of the river you almost had to use your paddle as a Samurai Sword to keep the mosquitoes away.  Couple buddies had hammocks, all I had to do was toss out my SansBug pop-up bug net and I was long asleep while they were still tying theirs up.

Those 3 hours (which is all you can afford if you want a shot at winning) of bite-free, deep restorative sleep will help you get back to your kayak and keep going instead of quitting this definitely-not-normal race.  This year’s race is on August 4 – 7, 2020.

Kissing Bugs?

standard camp issueWhich do you prefer: kissing bug, assassin bug or vampire bug?  All three actually refer to the same bug; the triatomine which tends to bite humans on the face and lips while they are sleeping!  As if the motionless daddy long legs in the corner of the tent was not enough to give you the heeby jeebies, now there’s one more pest that comes up close to give you sleepless nights.

You’ve probably heard about the kissing bug in the news lately as the CDC reported of a case where a young girl was bitten on her face in Delaware.  Even though the bug has been around in the southern US, this is the first time it has been identified in “the first state.”

But not to worry, while others may lay awake in the dark and jump at the rustling of leaves, you can be enjoying peaceful sleep in the protective cocoon of your SansBug.  In fact, one scout says he prefers the open A-frame canvas tents (even though they are notorious for spiders and mosquitoes) over bringing his own sleep-on-the-ground backpacking tent.  So make sure your camping gear also includes the SansBug… one mom said that when she dropped off her daughter at camp, she was surprised by how many kids had “these exact same things” – it was almost like the SansBug was standard camp issue!

Mosquito Nets for NGOs

Dr. Hanna Ekstrom is in the business of saving smiles in remote parts of the world, one child at a time.  Her team currently serves 9000+ children.  They have worked extensively among the Miskito Indians (no, not related to the word mosquito) in northeast Nicaragua.  Many of the towns in this area are only accessible by river. When we asked how the SansBug was working out, this is what we got:

We LOVE LOVE LOVE the nets.

I purchased several of these mosquito nets for my team of dental health promoters.  We use them for our NGO when we are on emergency brigades along the Rio Coco, where the mosquitoes are heavy and dengue and malaria are rampant.  Since getting these nets, we have not had a single case of mosquito-borne disease!

They are tall enough to sit up in and wide enough to spread out your things comfortably to sleep.  I sometimes hang a tiny camping lamp from the “roof” so I can read safely at night, with no bugs sneaking in at the corners of a loose mosquito tent.  I recommend these highly if you are camping where there are any annoying bugs.

Dr. Hanna Ekstrom, Founder of Save their Smiles

Taking the SansBug on a Plane

traveling with the sansbug

SansBugs boarding the plane

The convenience vs. portability trade-off.  No net can come close to the convenience of the SansBug.  There’s no need to hunt for a spot to suspend it like a regular mosquito net or join poles to erect one.  Imagine doing that every night and taking it down again the next morning, if you were moving from place to place, or if you have space limitations.

However, when it comes to transporting it, we admit that many users balk at the size.  Here’s an email from a Canadian family who has traveled with the SansBugs around the world for the past 3 years:

I just ordered two more single SansBug nets for my kids. We have been doing humanitarian work and living off and on in Nicaragua for the last 3 years. These nets are AMAZING.  We have all 3 sizes, and use them all!  My wife and I use the 3 person, and my kids each use one of the other ones.  They have lasted good for 3 years of pretty heavy use – and we are still using them! They are just starting to show signs of wear; most are kid made holes (the kids were 5 years and 2 years old when they started using them).
It has protected us from an army of flying ants, tons of mosquitoes, a bat, spiders, scorpions, centipedes and maybe snakes, but I haven’t seen any snakes around me while using them.  Something I don’t care to test!  We have used them here in Canada, Taiwan and other places as well, but mostly in Nicaragua.
For the single person net, the description states it WILL NOT fit in your luggage.  However, the 4-folded 1-person net can fit in a duffel bag (or large suitcase).  When we 4-fold them we make sure to follow the instructions and videos VERY carefully.  We have 4-folded our nets many many times and never had a problem. 
Tip for fliers: we travel with all 3 sizes, and we just stick them all into the big SansBug bag, so all 3 are together (we often 4-fold them when flying), and often put a life jacket or something else in there as there is usually room; it counts as a luggage but at least you can fit a few of the nets together and not get charged for each one.  Also, they can get hot and stuffy because they stop a lot of the gentle breezes – all nets do (it’s either that or the bugs), so we either put a fan up against them outside, or feed the wire inside and just have the fan inside. Works good.
Tip for campers: You can put a tarp over the net and under (just like a normal tent) and make it into a tent very easily, we use them for outside as well, even in the rain.
Wes, Naomi, Kayla and Kaden from Canada

Bass Fishing without the Mosquito Bites

It is usually this time of the year when we have to deal with biting cold temps and shoveling heavy wet snow when we have nostalgic memories of the past summer.

Bass FishingHere is an email from Ryan who was very impressed with the pop-up screen shelter:

My name is Ryan Dotson and I am a survival expert.  I have studied survival since I was seven years old and am currently considered an expert guide in the field.  My son and I have a tradition of night fishing every summer.  When it gets hot in June and July, the best time to fish for bass and catfish is at night.  However, every summer we have a dilemma.  We can either sleep under the stars and fight the mosquitoes, or we can sleep in a tent and lose the cool breeze that makes it bearable.

This year we decided to try out the SansBug setup to eliminate our problem.  I honestly had my doubts about the product.  I have tried products like this in the past and have not been impressed.  We had the pop-up screen shelter set up before dark and went about our process.  We typically cast and reel for bass until dark.  Then we switch to fishing for catfish by leaving the baited line in the water while we sleep for a couple hours.  I set an alarm on my phone to wake me up every two hours to check the line.  Then at dawn we move back to fishing for bass.

As the sun set on our shoulders, we reeled in a couple good sized bass.  The mosquitoes were beginning to bite, but this was not uncommon. My father is an entomologist, so I can never help but have the thought of West Nile and Zika Virus in the back of my mind.  As darkness set in, we retired to our SansBug enclosure.  Once zipped in, I noticed that we could hear the mosquitoes buzzing but that we were no longer getting bitten.  This was a huge relief.  The open mesh allowed the breeze to flow in off of the water cooling our faces.

My biggest concern was the size of the enclosure.  I am 6’1”, and most tents made for one person are a tight fit.  Thankfully the SansBug was very comfortable.  We drifted to sleep with the sounds of the bullfrogs and the crickets, hoping that our lines would be heavy when we woke.  Two hours later I received my second pleasant surprise.  Typically, I wake groggy and have a hard time getting through the small door of the tent we use.  The SansBug screen shelter has a door that consists of one entire side of the enclosure.  It was plenty big for me to comfortably exit despite my size and wobbly nature.

We continued to check our lines all night, and woke with the breaking sun warming our faces.  After a few more casts for bass, we packed up and headed home.  The solid fabric base of the enclosure had kept us from getting soaked with dew in the tall grass.  I noticed that the only mosquito bites I had were from the evening before we zipped up for the night.  It was a pleasant evening and a glorious morning.  Reflecting on the night, I was thankful for having the SansBug pop-up screen shelter with me and cannot wait to use it again the next time we plan a night fishing trip.

Folding your SansBug

Every year, we get an email or two saying that when they pulled out their SansBug for summer camp, they found that the poles were splintered… and it was fine the previous year.  Folding the SansBug is not intuitive.  The paper instruction manual is only supplementary.  The demo video on YouTube is crucial without which you will likely want to cut the net into pieces and burn it.  But some camps have an “unplugged” policy and don’t allow cellular or WiFi capable devices.

Therefore it is extremely important to practice at home SEVERAL times before going to camp.  As seen from the reviews, many 12-year olds have mastered the folding so it’s not rocket science.  Unfortunately getting everyone (especially adults!) to watch a demo video is impossible so many rely on their memory and end up breaking the poles without even realizing it.

You can get the hang of it for one summer and you’ll think you got it down but you DO need to watch the video AGAIN the following year BEFORE going to camp.  You can forget a lot in 11 months and folding the SansBug is not easy to remember!

Nick from OR is going to be using his SansBug for his fishing and camping trips.  He looks forward to staying shielded in the SansBug as he waits for a bite (from a fish!) and he’s happy he doesn’t have to slather insect repellant all over himself.  He had this to say about the folding:

Let me tell you . . . I can usually figure things out as I go without looking at instruction manuals, but not this time. After spending about 5 minutes trying every combination of twisting and folding the poles, I gave in and pulled out my phone to look up the video.

As soon as I watched the folding demonstration in the video, it all made sense. In a few quick maneuvers, the tent folded nicely into its disc shape.

Moral of the story?

Learn from my mistakes and watch the video BEFORE attempting to fold the tent like the instructions say and save yourself the frustration.

I’ve since figured out how to fold the SansBug quickly; it takes me about 20 seconds to get it from on the ground to in the bag!

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