In today’s modern culture, basic survival skills are often overlooked and forgotten. Wilderness survival skills are not only beneficial for your children to know in times of emergency, but also help them to become more self-assured and independent and provide an excellent opportunity for the family to connect and bond. To help you get started, here are some helpful tips for teaching your kids essential survival skills.
1. Encourage a Positive Attitude
A good mental attitude in the wilderness is just as crucial as any essential survival skills you teach them. A positive attitude can give them the motivation and resilience to keep trying even when the odds are stacked against them. Try a few of these positive attitude development activities at home while you teach them survival skills.
2. Teach Them How to Stay Calm
If your children ever find themselves lost in the wilderness, it is vital that they remain calm and not panic. There is a simple mnemonic device you can teach your kids to help them keep a cool head.
S.T.O.P stands for Stop when they don’t recognize their surroundings, Think about their situation and assess the danger level, Observe their surroundings and Plan what to do next.
3. Discuss the Different Types of Essential Wilderness Skills
Once you have gotten your kids into the right frame of mind, you can begin to teach them essential survival skills that cover the major priorities when in the wilderness: shelter, food, water, warmth and safety.
4. Promote Knife Safety
Learning how to use a knife is an essential life skill that all kids should master. However, before handing your kids a knife, they need to know how to use it safely to protect themselves and others from getting hurt.
A folding knife can be a great first knife for a child as the folding mechanisms can help keep them safe. Teach them how to hold a knife, how to cut away from themselves and how to position the knife in a stable knee brace. You also need to teach them how to clean and sharpen their knives to keep them in good condition.
5. Give Them Instructions on How to Light a Fire
When out in the wilderness, fire not only keeps your core temperature up to prevent hypothermia, it is also a good deterrent against predators and can signal for help. So, it is vital to teach your kids how to build a fire with limited materials and to understand fire safety.
6. Explain How to Properly Build a Shelter
Shelter against the elements can mean the difference between life and death for someone lost in the wilderness. Teaching your kids how to find or make their own shelter can be done using a few simple household items, such as garbage bags and duct tape and it can put their pillow-fort-building skills to good use.
There are a few different types of shelters you can teach them to construct from a simple lean-to to a more elaborate teepee. Have the kids practice by building shelters in the backyard and hosting campouts.
7. Provide Them with Ways to Easily Find Food
It isn’t safe to eat food found in the wilderness unless you know about local plants and herbs. A book about local flora and fauna can be a great way to introduce your kids to foraging and food safety.
Teaching your kids how to fish, hunt and trap are also important to keep them nourished in the wilderness. Teach younger kids how to tie knots to set snares and rig fishing lines. Older kids could benefit from learning how to use a bow or gun to hunt for small game.
8. Train Them to Find and Purify Water
Drinking water directly from a stream may seem like a good idea to your kids, but it can be full of harmful bacteria and microorganisms that can make them sick. Teach them some simple tricks for purifying water from wild sources, such as through charcoal or stones and emphasize the importance of boiling and cooling water before they drink it.
9. Emphasize The Importance of Basic First Aid
Accidents happen out in the wild, so your kids need to know how to administer basic first aid until help arrives. They should know life-saving CPR techniques, how to stop bleeding, how to treat burns, how to roll someone into the recovery position and the essentials needed for a basic first aid kit.
Seeing someone hurt can be frightening for children. To avoid making first aid scary, have your kids play doctors and nurses so they can practice their newfound skills.
10. Show Them How to Read a Map and Use a Compass
While the best idea, when lost in the wilderness, is to stay put and wait until help arrives, it is also essential for your children to know how to read a map and use a compass, even in these times of GPS tracking.
Teach them how to find their bearing, how to hold the compass flat to navigate across the terrain and how to match the orienting arrow to magnetic north. Give them the opportunity to practice their new skills with challenges and treasure hunts.
11. Get Them To Do Tasks Hands-On
Kids learn best by doing things themselves. Your role is to model skills and behaviors and gently guide them while they practice. You don’t need to set aside a specific time. An easier way to teach them skills is to create learning opportunities throughout the day.
If one of the kids bumps their head, perform first aid and narrate what you are doing to your kids as you go. Encourage your kids to help prepare dinner to teach them knife safety and to safely cook food.
12. Make It Fun
Above all, learning essential wilderness survival skills should be fun, not stressful. Be calm when explaining about dangerous situations or handling gear and turn learning into a game to allow your kids to engage more with the skills.
Help Your Children to Always Be Prepared
It is unsettling to think about your children in a survival situation, but equipping them with essential wilderness survival skills and knowledge may just save their life someday and give them the confidence to trust themselves in an emergency.