When Your Daughter’s First Period Comes at Summer Camp
Posted byDiane Hoffmaster
It’s that time of year: it’s summer camp season! Some camps are only a few hours per day and are located just down the road, but others may last the entire summer and be hours away from home. If you have a young daughter who may be getting her first period soon, it may be time for a serious discussion about menstruation and summer camp. Here are a few tips for you AND her to help you both jump the hurdles that may arise from menstruating at summer camp.
When Will She Start?
If you’re wondering whether your daughter’s period could show up for the first time at summer camp, you should discuss this with her pediatrician. There are usually a few indications that your daughter could start menstruating soon. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a girl’s first period is often associated with the growth of body hair, breast development, a rapid growth spurt, and the appearance of acne.1 While not all of these signs may occur before your daughter starts menstruating, if she is experiencing some of these, her period may be arriving soon.
Open the Lines of Communication
Before your daughter heads off to summer camp, have a frank discussion with her. Make sure she fully understands the biological changes that her body is going through. Tell her your own personal first period story and discuss how things went for you. Make sure that she leaves for camp knowing exactly how to contact you, but encourage her to talk to her camp counselor as well. The camp counselor and the camp nurse will be helpful sources of support for your daughter if she starts menstruating at summer camp.
Send the Right Supplies
Just in case your daughter does get her period for the first time while she’s at summer camp, pack some supplies for her. You should also discuss how each item is used, as well as which sanitary product is best for certain times or activities. Here are a few tips:
- Pads with wings. For heavy-flow days or for days when your daughter is running, horseback riding, rock climbing or otherwise very active, suggest sanitary pads with wings. The wings help keep the pad in place and protect underwear from stains.
- Pantyliners. For light days, or if your daughter is worried about leaks with tampons, pantyliners are a great choice. Buy them individually wrapped so that she can tuck one or two in her pocket on her way to the latrine.
- The right clothes. Moms might not send their daughters to summer camp wearing a white skirt, but make sure to discuss clothing choices with your daughter. Dark colors are best to hide accidents. Also, lycra or spandex shorts (similar to volleyball shorts) are a snug-fitting way of keeping pads in place while participating in sports or even at bedtime.
Dealing with the Symptoms
Most camps aren’t keen on allowing campers to hold on to their own medication. Instead, the camp nurse will dispense any over-the-counter pain medications should they be needed. Alert your daughter that her first period may be uncomfortable due to cramps or bloating. Also, touch upon potential PMS symptoms and give her some tips on how to deal with them.
Let her know that if she’s not feeling her best, don’t be shy to sit out an activity or two. If you’ve spoken with her leaders ahead of time, they should be understanding about her need for rest or some alone time.
Beginning menstruation may be a stressful time in a girl’s life, especially if she gets it while she’s away from home. Make sure she has the know-how and supplies to help her navigate menstruation successfully, even if you aren’t around to help her out!
1“How to Talk to Your Adolescent Girl About her Body.” Cleveland Clinic. June 10, 2014. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/adolescent-female-body-image
- Posted by Diane Hoffmaster
- On July 26, 2017