15 Period Stories from Menstruators at Summer Camp
Summertime on your period – what a time to be alive!
In one of our recent The Period Feels podcast episodes, we heard from August’s Content Manager, Ruby Moon, who, before becoming a full time August employee, spent her summers paddling canoes and basking in the sun on the docks of Canadian Lakes.
Luckily, she came away from camps not only with great icebreaker games for Team bonding, but also a whole collection of #OnMyPeriod stories from her fellow camp friends!
Read on to hear about putting a pad on for the first time while squatting behind a tree, crying in a tent, and, believe it or not, a periods x polar bears story.
“Mind over Matter”
One of my canoe trip leaders used to always tell us “Mind over Matter'' while we were portaging across land to get to the next lake. When it comes to periods, however, the ‘Matter’ (period blood, cramps and other symptoms) often does affect your ability to get to the end.
Here are a few Mind over Matter stories:
1) "One time my friend got her period on a portage and started leaking and her blood droppings marked which way to follow the trail!"
2) "On a family camping trip, I didn’t realize I got my period and bled through my shorts during the drive up to the lake. All our stuff was already packed in the dry-sacks so I had to do the next 4 hours of paddling and portaging in bloody shorts.
Once we finally got to the campsite, I cleaned my shorts in the lake using a rock to scrub out the blood."
Can I swim on my period?
The answer is yes! (even with a tampon in!)
Some of the best camp activities involve the water and a period won’t stop us from getting in on the fun!
3) "One time I was on a trip and the very first day I got my period. I was wearing a pad…and we tipped the canoe." – Hailey O. (she/her)
4) "Last summer I got mine unexpectedly. I had such bad cramps that I had to sit mojo (in the middle of the canoe) ‘cos I kept puking.
I was leading the trip, which had 8 male campers on it. The boys were troopers though; at first, they thought I was dying, but then I gave them a bit of a period lesson and they had so many questions." – Erin T. (she/her)
5) "4 words: Pad. In. Bathing. Suit.
Really tried to pull that off for many years until my camp friends taught me how to use a tampon using sour patch kids as the diagram." – [yours truly], Ruby Moon (she/her)
There's something about camp…happy tears, sad tears, and of course, period tears.
6) "It was the year before high school and I was the only one in our cabin that hadn’t gotten it. And then I did.
I remember crying in the tent while my friends congratulated me for getting my first period ever!
I put on a pad for the first time…squatting behind a tree." – Emily R. (she/her)
7) "I had never put in a tampon and my counsellor forced me to because we had to do the swim test.
I was so scared and crying so another camper took me to the washroom and stood outside and waited for me until I understood what to do.
Looking back, it was kind of unfortunate how unsupportive my counsellor was at the moment, but I’m happy I had my friend to help." – Gabriella (she/her)
You’ve made it to the Periods x Polar Bears story:
"A few summers ago, I was on a river canoe trip that entered Hudson's Bay, in northern Manitoba, Canada.
Something we had to do for the last 2 weeks of our trip was travel in groups, no matter what. This was because when you go this far north, it’s known as ‘polar bear territory’.
We even had to go to the bathroom in groups of 4, and we couldn’t go alone. This made it very uncomfortable when we were on our periods and needed to change our period products.
It was also difficult because we had very limited storage and, personally, I had my period twice on this trip. It was hard to have enough supplies packed and still have enough space for warm layers. Many of us had to share our tampons and pads.
It’s really crazy to think about how unfair it was that our reality was picking to pack more pads and tampons, or to pack an extra sweater." – Hailey O. (she/her)
Ever wonder how period products are disposed of while camping?
The next story involves a very specific piece of camping gear: a bag dedicated to collecting period product waste (instead of putting it in the ground).
Whether you refer to it as a ‘moon kit’, ‘noon bag’ or ‘Bertha bag’ – disposing of menstrual product waste is a very unique experience on camping trips.
9) "I was leading an overnight trip for the younger kids at my camp and got my period.
I brought a plastic bag to put the used tampons in, because you can’t just throw them anywhere.
So…I kept a plastic bag…of bloody tampons…in my pack… until I got back to camp the next day to throw them out."
Camp is not just fun & games. It’s a place where some of the most important lessons are learned. Friendship, swimming, wilderness safety, and period care.
10) "I learned how to use a tampon in an outhouse! My mom, sister and I were all in it at the same time." – Emily D. (she/her)
11) "I got my first period on the morning of our 6th grade field trip to a team building nature camp.
They only had indoor restrooms at the front of the trail. Little naïve me did not understand the difference between a panty liner and a pad, nor did she know how much you bleed on Day 1 of your menstrual cycle.
Luckily, my mom and I talked about periods in more detail that evening, but what a way to start your menstruating experience…"
12) "Up until I was 15 and was at camp with my period for the first time, I had never really figured out tampons.
I was signed up for sailing so my friend gave me a tampon and was like “You gotta do it or not go sailing”.
She sat outside the stall and I was like “omg I did it!” and we ran to the sailing docks because we were late." – Sarah VD (she/her)
Getting your period on a camping trip is already a pain but imagine also being soaking wet…
13) "I got my period on a river canoe trip and bled through an ultra tampon AND rain pants within 45 minutes. Who knew you COULD even bleed through rain pants?!
Needless to say, I ended up using 100% of the period products I came prepared with, and all of the ones supplied by the camp nurse. Eventually resorting to having to empty my menstrual 8 or so times a day! Anyways, that was traumatizing (:"
14) "One day we had this really horrible rain day and ended up camping on this tiny little island. In the middle of the night, I woke up to the crack of thunder and was like: “I have my period right now”.
I was curled up in the fetal position and just had the feeling that it was everywhere. I gingerly climbed out of my sleeping bag into the dark, and went out into the forest covered by a whipping wind and still, so much thunder.
Anyways, I ran into the forest and YANKED down my pants – no blood in the pants (thankfully because they were expensive) but then of course a horror show everywhere else. I had only grabbed one tampon so I waddled over to the equipment pack, got toilet paper, cleaned up and literally YEETED my underwear into the forest because holding onto them for the rest of our out-trip would have been a nightmare!
Anyways, then I saw the moon through the clouds and literally was like: “I am one with nature”.
Now my bloody underwear is on some island in Wabakimi Provincial Park."
15) "The first time I had my period on a canoe trip was also my first co-ed trip.
We were all learning to paddle in rapids for the first time, so we had to be prepared for unexpected swims at any point. It also rained for nearly 5 days straight, and none of my clothing was dry anymore. So, pads weren’t really an option, but I hadn’t mastered inserting a tampon yet, let alone in the woods!!
One rainy day on a portage, I took off my rain pants while we walked the trail, since we were already soaking wet and I didn’t want to overheat. I stripped down to just the shorts I was wearing underneath to find that watery blood was streaming all down my legs.
One of the boys on my trip just looked at me stunned like: “oh my goodness you need to put those pants back on”. I was embarrassed but also had a good laugh."
The moral of the story is: you can most definitely still have the best summer ever while on your period.
It might mean a few embarrassing moments along the way, but eventually they become funny, right?!
And if you’re looking to stock up on period products before heading to overnight camp this summer, consider building a customizable box of August’s sustainable period care TODAY!