As thrilling as going away on camp or on a journey is, for AFAB students, the idea of being in a remote and unknown place during your period can add a layer of anxiety that can dampen the experience. Thankfully, just knowing what to expect and planning ahead means campers can be prepared and comfortable in the outdoors.
We’ve put together a comprehensive rundown on a range of collection methods and considerations, some tips on disposal as well as some insight into what sorts of facilities OEG camps have on-site to ensure menstruation on camp doesn’t get in the way of a great time.
Unsurprisingly, we are geared towards sustainable practices in as many areas as possible at OEG. When it comes to period collection methods, we’re spoiled for choice and we have options for disposal to help us keep our environment clean. When preparing for the possibility of a period on camp, there are a range of options and considerations for each.
NOTE: It’s worth thinking ahead about the typical length of your period and how the heaviness of your flow normally changes over the course of a normal period to help plan a combination of collection methods accordingly.
TAMPONS AND PADS
These old faithful collection methods are a convenient choice for camping when we consider packing space, however it is important to be aware, correct disposal of these items will be each camper’s responsibility. At a campsite sanitary bins are more than likely an option whereas on a journey they will not. It’s also important to remember, regardless of facilities, flushing these products is an absolute no.
A zip pouch with a DIY period kit is a simple and discreet way of managing keeping things sanitary and practising responsible disposal. The camp period kit should include:
A zip-up bag to carry items
Your preferred sanitary items
An extra pair of underwear
Ziplock bags containing soiled sanitary products, wrappers and wipes can be thrown into a bin at the end of each day at a hard-top camp centre or stored in a backpack or shower bag on journeys or day trips.
Regardless of your campsite’s toilet options, you will always be able to dispose of your sanitary waste. Each group carries a leak-proof toilet tube for used sanitary items and toilet paper.
A waste-friendly period collection method becoming more popular is the menstrual cup. The benefit of the menstrual cup is only one is required and most designs allow wear for between 8-12 hours at a time (please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for details on your specific menstrual cup).
Different toileting systems will be available to you, depending on your program. All our centre-based camps have flushing toilets. On journey programs, you’ll find some sites have flushing toilets, some have drop loos and in other instances, a toileting area will be set up at your campsite. Some campsites may not have running water. A hand washing station and sanitiser will be set up daily at your campsite and will be accessible throughout the day.
Thankfully, the blood from your menstrual cup can be disposed of in the same way urine and faeces are - right into the toilet.
The primary consideration with a menstrual cup is to ensure you are able to thoroughly clean the cup after each use, ideally with boiling water. If you are concerned about being able to clean your menstrual cup effectively, you can chat to one of the camp team members. Many of our team members also menstruate while out on camp, so there is always help available.
For those lighter flow days of your period, period underwear is a great and very eco-friendly option to ensure no sneaky leaks happen during activities. Once soiled, one of the zip lock bags from your period kit is a great place to store them before returning to your pack to avoid smell.
If you will likely need pain killers, ensure you bring written consent and instructions from your parent/guardian. We always carry paracetamol which can be administered with permission. Remember, you cannot self-administer painkillers. Please let us know if you are experiencing pain – we will always be able to help.
If you’re experiencing cramps, one of our best tips is to use your drink bottle as a hot water bottle. Talk to one of our team to check whether your bottle is hot water safe.
It is important to note, each camper has control of their experience and involvement in camp while menstruating. To ensure you’re supported in making these decisions, if you are struggling - let a team member you’re comfortable with know.
CAN I PARTICIPATE IN ACTIVITIES WHILE MENSTRUATING?
Yes! You can participate in any activity you feel comfortable with, even water activities! If you are not comfortable participating, speak to one of our team and together, we can make the necessary adjustments.
THE SCHEDULE LOOKS REALLY BUSY. WILL I HAVE TIME TO CHANGE?
You will have the opportunity to get changed after every activity, at meals, snack breaks and rest breaks throughout the day as needed.
A little preparation can go a very long way to dispel period anxiety in places physically and socially unfamiliar but it’s also important to remember - periods are a part of life. As long as you prepare accordingly, your cycle won’t get in the way of your adventure. With a bit of preparation, you can worry less about dealing with your period in the wild and more about the truly important stuff, like how to navigate the bush using a map and compass or safety canoe an untouched river with your teammates.