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How To Prevent The Trots When Camping – Toilet Health

You really need to know “How To Prevent The Trots When Camping” – Toilet Health is one of the most important aspects of a camp, whether it be an overnight camp or a longer term camp. It cannot be neglected without severe consequences. Most of us have experienced the trots at some time or other and I have yet to find someone that finds it pleasant.

Besides being unpleasant it has dire health consequences which can spread like wildfire.

Have A Designated Toilet Area

One of the first things that should be identified is the latrine area. It does not have to be completed first but it should be identified so that everyone knows where it is or will be.Camp Layout

When considering the latrine area, one must take into account the:

  • water source,
  • slope of the land,
  • prevailing wind direction
  • accessibility
  • kitchen cooking area and
  • Sleeping areas.

Where to Locate The Toilet

When deciding on the site of the latrines, you need to make sure that it is far enough from the sleeping and cooking areas to avoid bad odors, especially in long term camps. Wind direction is difficult to avoid as it frequently changes but in most cases there is a predominant wind direction.

Keeping the latrines away from the sleeping and cooking areas helps to prevent illnesses and embarrassment from bad outdoors and the accompanying sound effects. It also helps with privacy issues.

Another important thing to consider is where you will be getting your water. Be sure not to set your latrines where they can contaminate your water supply. You should also be aware of the flow of water when it rains. you don’t want the latrine washing into your camp.

Temporary Toilets

No matter how short the camp is, it is important to have some sort of latrine area. To leave excreta open in the veld isDIY Camp Toilet unpleasant and could lead to the spread of disease. Ideally, you want the latrines to be well screened by bush or some sort of material screen.

The best type of latrine is a narrow trench that widens as it gets longer. It should not be much deeper than 18 inches. This means that it won’t last long but you don’t want a pit that lasts for a long period as the stench, flies and disease would become a problem. A trench latrine is easy to straddle by kids or adults alike.

Long Term Toilets

By long term, I am referring to a toilet that is to be used for a period longer than 2 days. For these longer term camps, one really needs a proper latrine facility, especially if there are families with younger kids and senior adults. These groups tend to be more susceptible to bugs and illnesses so we need to take care.

Here is an example of a long term Latrine.Latrine Plan“A” = urinal Note the piles of sand and spades in the corners

“B” = Tapering Trench

” C” = Toilet Paper

“D” = Wash basin

In a longer stay camp it is necessary to have a urinal to stop the latrines from becoming soggy and unusable. In sketch “A” below you will note the circular hole in the center of the urinal. It should be 30cm in diameter and about the same in depth. The three trenches slope from the furtherest point from the hole down towards the hole and slope from about 5 cm to 200cm at the hole. The Hole and the trenches are filled with stones.

It will be tempting to use disinfectant in the latrines but Don’t. Disinfectants will kill the bacteria that break down the excreta. Simply put a light covering of soil over the excreta, if this is done properly there should be no smell. When a latrine starts smelling it is time to move the latrine.

Sketch ACamp Urinal

Urinal Profile Sketch B

Camp Urinal Profile


If your camp is a long term camp, weeks or a month, you might consider making the facilities more comfortable and healthy. Items such as buckets lined with plastic/paper bags with a seat cover of sorts. Bucket toilet

Toilet Facilities

Just a few words on the facilities that you should have in or by the latrines;

  • Make sure that the soil is close at hand so that people don’t have to walk to get it as this will lead to poor covering of the waste.
  • You also need to have a spade or tin to use with the sand.
  • Never forget the white gold. Make a hanger or a container for the toilet paper so that it is not on the ground and cannot get wet if it rains
  • Have a basin with clean water available with soap and a towel so that people can wash their hands…or else they might be cooking your food with those hands!!!
  • Ensure that the water is changed regularly. Nobody wants to wash their hands in dirty water.
  • Make sure that the latrines have some privacy or the bushes around the camp will become more enticing to some people.

Maintaining The Toilet

Toilets do not last for ever and need frequent maintenance;

  • Trench toilets will last a few days and then they will need to be relocated. This will mean a new site with new holes.
  • Water must be replaced frequentlyToilet Roll Holder
  • Toilet paper must always be available
  • Bucket toilets must be emptied at least twice daily depending upon the number of people in camp.
  • There must always be sand/sawdust readily available.

Personal Hygeine

Disease spreads easily and it is imperative that personal hygiene is maintained in a camp environment. Ensuring that the basics as discussed above are done will go a long way to ensuring a happy healthy camp.

Waste Disposal

There is most often waste water in a camp environment and this needs to be disposed of properly. By waste water, I am not referring to just the latrines. People wash, shower wash dished brush teeth and so on. To avoid muddy or dirty water collecting and causing health issues, build a type of french drain. Dig a hole, fill it with rocks, cover the rocks with grass or leaves.

The dry grass or leaves will let the water through but will catch the solid waste. This need to be disposed of every day. It is easy to burn the dry grass and leave thus disposing of the waste and preventing decay and disease in the camp.

Your Camp Should Be Comfortable

Your camp should be comfortable and healthy. There is no reason why anyone should dread going to the latrines. If they do, you have a problem in your camp. You really need to pay attention to your latrines to keep your camp healthy.

If you have any suggestions, comments or questions, please leave them in the comments section below or contact me here

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