Monday, November 16, 2020

When nature calls: Trail potty training for kids of all ages

Elf on the potty

When Nature Calls! 

There will be a time on the trail when someone needs to use the washroom. Many trails have designated areas that they have created for a makeshift privy. However, we can guarantee nature seems to call either before or after that point, so what do you do? Be prepared!

What you need to bring: Carrying biodegradable toilet paper is a necessity along with a shovel, wipes, and cornstarch (to get rid of the itch!). We also recommend young ladies carry feminine products just in case.

Where to go: Ideally, use the spots designated on the trail marked either as washroom/toilet/privy. These areas usually have a makeshift toilet and are much easier for a child to use. However, most children have to go when they have to go, so you need to first find a place where everyone can stop and you are able to drop your packs. This is one of the only times that you should ever go off-trail.

Privy sign in the Adirondacks

How to 'go' in the forest: You need to find a place where they can use a tree or stump to lean or sit over. Dig a hole as deep as the hand shovel. Younger children will need more help and may need you to hold them to go. Once they have gone ensure they have wiped properly to avoid any discomfort once back on the trail again.

How to avoid monkey butt: Applying corn starch or Monkey Butt can help ensure there is no chaffing after they have gone. Place the toilet paper in the hole as well (as long as it is biodegradable) and bury it along with the waste.  Use the wipes for hands to ensure they are clean (brings these back out with you). 

How to protect the forest: Try your best to not disturb too much off the trail. Do not bury the wipes or feminine products as they will not biodegrade like the toilet paper. Put them in your garbage bag to carry out all garbage (i.e. your snack garbage). 

How to plan ahead: Children tend to have a harder time going in the woods so it is important to go over this before you hit the trail. On trails far from home, it is best to stop at a coffee shop, gas station or another place with public washrooms to try to avoid going into the woods. 


When nature calls make sure you are prepared with all the essentials.

Be respectful of trail rules, leave it like you found it. Bury waste that is biodegradable and bring out what is not.

Talk to your children ahead of time. Prepare them so they are not shy or scared. 

If your children need to go in the woods, make sure it's presented as 'no big deal' and a learning opportunity for taking care of the forest.