At The Outdoor Education Group (OEG), many of us spend a significant amount of time in nature either in personal time or on the clock in hard-top, soft-top and remote camp environments. No matter the location, when nature calls, it helps to know what to expect of facilities and how to use them. That is why we’ve compiled a detailed article on the toileting facilities within our various program environments and a guide to how they’re used.
CONVENTIONAL TOILET FACILITIES
All hard-top campsites are equipped with conventional flushing toilets and are accompanied by sanitary bins. The only consideration for these facilities is to avoid flushing anything that isn’t waste or toilet paper.
Journey programs take place at our bush camp sites like Wanggai, Eildon and Biloela and those bush camps are equipped with drop toilets accompanied by sanitary bins. In some cases where sanitary bins are unavailable, TP or poo tubes are available for stowing sanitary products until such time as they can be properly disposed of. Again, the only consideration for these facilities is to avoid putting anything down the drop toilet that isn’t waste or toilet paper.
LESS CONVENTIONAL TOILET FACILITIES
When programs take place in more remote locations, the etiquette for urination is a bush pee in a shielded, private area. For solid waste, campsites will be equipped with what we call a Groover. These are repurposed ammunition boxes that come with a lid, sawdust, garbage bags and a removable toilet seat.
GROOVER TOILET SETUP
Typically, a private area is erected away from the central sleeping site using a tarp for visual concealment. A Groover will always have a lid on top to contain any waste smell. When using a Groover, the lid will be removed and the toilet seat will be affixed. Once finished, the contents are sprinkled with more sawdust to absorb any moisture, the toilet seat is removed and the lid is reapplied.
If toilet paper is used for a bush pee, this must be placed either in the TP or poo tubes or into the Groover and covered with sawdust.
TOILETING IN ALPINE ENVIRONMENTS
On Alpine journey programs, campers are typically on the move for the duration of the trip. This means the luxury of even basic Groover facilities is not an option. It is impractical for group leaders to carry a heavy ammunition box on skis and digging a deep toileting hole through a layer of snow is difficult to construct and to use.
Instead, in these scenarios, a piece of non-grease paper will be placed in a private space on the ground to collect the waste. This paper is then folded up, placed into a bag and then put into the TP or poo tube for disposal at the next available disposal site. In an alpine environment, again the etiquette for urination is a bush pee in a shielded, private area.
TP / POO TUBE
EMERGENCY OR UNEXPECTED TOILETING
In most scenarios not in alpine environments, a designated toileting facility and space will be readily available for campers. There are, however, occasions when a toilet is needed as a matter of urgency outside of camps or designated rest spots with adequate facilities.
In these rare occasions, team members will dig a 50cm - 1m hole to allow for a solid movement to be filled in with soil. This is not a preferred or commonly used practice and is only used in scenarios where there is no alternative for a participant.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR TOILETING IN NATURE
In addition to awareness of the actual facilities available on different types of nature programs, there are some personal considerations to keep in mind when toileting in bush or alpine environments.
LEAVE NO TRACE
The first guiding principle OEG focusses on in all areas is to ‘leave no trace’. This means when activities are taking place in nature, all participants should do their best to leave nothing behind and maintain the space in the same way as when they arrived.
In relation to waste, while urine has very little impact on the landscape, solid waste should be, as much as possible, collected, removed from the site and disposed of correctly. If solid waste must be buried, it must be a considerable distance from any campsites, trails, or water sources.
As general cleanliness and avoiding germs can be a challenge in more remote camping environments, it is crucial diligent hand-washing practices are followed. This is especially important before and after using toilet facilities, where food is being consumed or prepared or where first aid is being administered or wounds are being touched. At OEG, the recommended practice is hand washing followed by sanitising before and after using a toilet facility.