I was 12 when I got my first period, on a holiday camp where I was predominantly riding horses. Good times. I was a very -aware- little girl, so I had tampons in my luggage, and used them without incident.
The issue was that I felt -dirty-. I had none of the excitement I thought I would have (years of reading Girlfriend magazine had painted the event in a very different light), I just felt awkward and paranoid. I didn’t tell anyone at the camp what was happening, I just went on as normal, but feeling huge and ungainly, like everyone could tell something was different.
When I got home, I told my mother by asking if I could have a hysterectomy. Which illustrates how much I hated it. I got my period at every single camp until I left school, too… even if it was completely out of sync with my otherwise regular cycle. I still often get it on holiday.
I work with teenagers now, so I just try to normalise it. I’ll talk about periods with them, and won’t censor my language by using cute nicknames in front of the boys, which I feel is important. The staff in my department and I are also looking to run a sanitary-product donation drive, to assist those who can’t afford tampons and things, so miss out on education. Even in a first world country, it’s a huge problem.