First Lesson Learned at State Conference Proved Invaluable

by Linda Jo Conn

Imagine this…. eight women sharing two bathrooms in a cabin in the woods. Awakening early Saturday morning, I was in dire need of a toilet and both bathrooms were occupied.  After climbing down from the top bunk, I really began to feel pressure.   

Sassafras Cabin at Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center

Thank goodness, the first Advanced Training Class I had attended on Friday afternoon at the 2012 Master Naturalist State Meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota proved invaluable to my comfort and sanity.  “Techniques for Teaching Leave No Trace Principles to Urban and Suburban Audiences” was the official class title, although a more descriptive sub-title given by the instructor was, “How to Teach Soccer Moms to Pooh in the Woods”. 

Many urban and suburban people have trouble relieving themselves in the outdoors when recognizable restroom facilities are not available. Showing them simple ways to be prepared to fully enjoy the experience of being in the “back country” can be part of our enablement and education process. Necessary supplies listed by the instructor were: a small Zip lock bag, a wet wipe, and on occasion, a hand trowel. 

Saturday morning, I was a Master Naturalist needing relief! I knew there were no plastic bags in the cabin cabinets, so I pulled an empty Kraft Shredded Cheese bag from the trash can. A couple of squares of Kleenex from the box on a side table in the living area sufficed for wet wipes. A six- to eight-inch deep hole to bury solid waste was not necessary at the moment for what I needed to do, so the trowel was not required. 

Quickly donning jacket and shoes, I ventured out into the chill and walked into the darkness. The encroachment of the woods and my internal pressure precluded taking the prescribed 100 steps away from the cabin. Thirty steps did just fine. Blessed relief! The evidence was deposited in the cabin trash can. 

I was fortunate my first training class gave me the information and permission to be able to make myself comfortable. I also became aware of the difficulty many would-be nature enthusiasts may have enjoying the outdoors because of the apparent lack of restroom facilities.