It’s ok! This is a safe space!
It’s totally normal to have questions before you embark on a big adventure trip. We want you to feel prepared and excited as you get ready for your trip. Many of your questions may have already been answered by the trip description webpages, the promo materials, and the packing list. Here are a few more of those funny & awkward questions that we get ALL THE TIME from campers & parents who just want to know what to expect.
1. What if I get my period on trail?
Oh my gosh girl, I feel you. It happens. Periods are messy and uncomfortable and gross, but you know what? It doesn’t have to stop you from having an awesome camping trip. Every summer our female guides have multiple periods on trail, and we’ve figured out some ways to make it tolerable. We’re all in this together!
The Period Pack
At the beginning of the week one of your guides will pull the girls aside and touch base about periods. Basically…unless you’re absolutely certain that you’re NOT going to have a period on trail, we’ll loan you what we call a “Period Pack”. It’s a small cloth bag, and in it there’s a Ziploc bag full of unused period supplies, and a stash of empty Ziploc bags to use for trash. When you go to the bathroom, take your Period Pack with you. Put any used supplies into one of the trash bags, and you can hold onto it in your Period Pack until you come to a trash can. We can’t drop used tampons or pads into the toilets, so this is a great way to keep everything discretely contained.
A few of our female staff have been experimenting with menstrual cups. These are reusable, silicone cups that you wear internally like a tampon. When you go to the bathroom, you can empty the contents into the toilet, and rinse it with clean water before reinserting it. It’s great because there’s no waste to carry around, and it takes up less room in your pack than a bag of tampons. If you’re interested in trying this strategy out, we’d recommend buying a menstrual cup at least 3-4 cycles before your trip starts so you can get comfortable using it at home before you hit the trail.
Here’s a link to learn more about menstual cups (not an affiliate link).
2. How does going to the bathroom work?
Everybody poops. There’s even a book about it. Did you know that humans even pooped before they invented toilets?
Amnicon goes on trips in a number of different State & National Parks, and each location has a slightly different bathroom set up. Some of them have outhouses at campsites and when they do that’s great! Some trip locations only provide toilet facilities that we affectionately call “The Ranger Box”. Basically it’s a plastic toilet seat over a hole in the woods, like an outhouse without any walls. If you’ve never used a Ranger Box before, we totally get that it can be a little weird. To make sure that everyone has privacy, we use a system to make sure that only one person will walk down the toilet trail at a time. We keep a couple rolls of toilet paper and a little bottle of hand sanitizer in a closed Ziploc bag, and when it’s not in use we leave it at the beginning of the trail that goes back to the toilet. When you need to use the facilities, you’ll pick up the bag and bring it with you. When you’re done, you’ll bring it back and put it where it belongs at the beginning of the trail. This way, if the bag is missing, then everyone knows not to walk down the trail, and wait at the beginning until you come back with it. Once you’ve tried it a couple times, you might even find that you enjoy having a better view from the throne. And not having walls means that the smell usually isn’t so bad.
Look up what kind of trip you’re going to on, and there’s a description of that location’s bathroom facilities in the FAQ’s!
3. What kind of underwear works best on trail?
Everyone has different preferences. Until you’ve been on a couple trips, you might not know what your own preferences are, and that’s ok! Here are a few perspectives, and you can see which one feels best to you.
Some people prefer 100% cotton underwear, and they’ll bring a fresh pair for each day, plus one or two extra just in case. Having clean, dry, cotton underwear every day can help reduce the risk of UTIs or yeast infections, if you’re prone to that. People who prefer this underwear strategy find that having a few extra pairs of underwear in their clothing pack really doesn’t take up that much room, and helps you feel more comfortable every day. The downside to cotton underwear is that when it gets wet, it stays wet forever. And it will get wet. Unplanned swimming happens. If you’re wearing cotton underwear when it does, you’ll be left with a dark, uncomfortable, underwear-shaped wet spot on your pants. That’s why some people prefer a different underwear strategy.
Other people prefer underwear made out of a synthetic material, such as polyester. Synthetic materials dry out much more quickly than cotton underwear, so if you get wet up to your butt, your underwear doesn’t keep you wet even after the rest of you has dried out. But if you’re prone to UTIs, synthetic underwear can aggravate that.
Some people just wear swimsuit bottoms every day under their clothes, and that totally works too. Swimsuit bottoms do tend to cut into your skin after a while, but that doesn’t bother everyone.
Let’s talk about going commando. Yep. Some people just wear their trail pants and nothing underneath them. It’s one less thing to worry about. It’s more comfortable because you never have wet fabric clinging to tight spaces. You never have to decide where to put dirty underwear. And to stay cleaner & less smelly, they’ll just swim in their trail pants, which is probably what they would want to swim in anyway. You definitely need a good pair of quick-drying, non-see-through trail pants to make this strategy work. But you probably want pants like that anyway.
So how do you choose?
Think it over, decide what feels best, and give it a try! If you decide you don’t like the underwear strategy you picked, it’s not the end of the world. The camping trip is only going to last a couple days and then you can change into clean, dry clothes when you get back to base camp again.
4. Are we really going to drink river (or lake) water?
Yep! But don’t worry, we’ll clean it and make it safe to drink before we do! We have two ways of cleaning the drinking water at Amnicon. We either use Chlorine Dioxide tablets or we boil it. Boiling is the most effective way to clean the water, but it can be a lot of work to keep the fire going that long, and we don’t always have time to build a fire, especially if your water bottle runs empty in the middle of the day of paddling. Chlorine Dioxide tablets are great because you can just drop one into your water bottle, wait 30 minutes, and then boom! It’s safe to drink. We’ll keep you hydrated on trail. Hydration is important!
5. What if I’ve never been camping before?
That’s totally fine! LOTS of people who come to Amnicon have never been camping before. We can teach you everything you need to know about how to paddle, what to bring, and what to expect. The guides on your trip will handle the trickier aspects of the trip such as navigating and cooking over the fire. You are in good hands. That’s one of the benefits of going with an organization like Amnicon. You can have the big adventure, and go to the super cool places, without having to endure all the rooky mistakes you’d make if you were going alone.
The one thing we do need you to bring to the table is a positive attitude. It can still be an awesome, fun, and meaningful trip even if it’s raining or cold or buggy. But you gotta dig deep, grit your teeth, and yell out, “WOOOO HOOOO!!!!!”
Wondering something else?
We are ALWAYS happy to get questions! Don’t worry about asking something too strange, too specific, or too awkward. We just want to make sure that you feel prepared & excited for this adventure trip. We’re here to answer your questions!