One of the more neglected areas of prepping and survival is the teaching of skills to the next generation. Children are safer and more confident in the wilderness if you take some time to mentor them in the ways of the wild.
Here are just a few of the things children should learn to be safer when they wander out on their own.
Learning to find your way when you don’t have a compass is not that difficult a skill to master.
You will need to break the clichés that abound in survival fiction, like moss grows on the north side of the tree. It may in some areas but in my experience I have seen it on all sides of trees.
Basics like finding the North Star, or making a stick and shadow compass are simple enough for most children. Also helping them learn local landmarks will help immensely.
I always quiz my kids when we are driving about which direction we are going. It is an exercise in way finding and situational awareness to know where we are.
In a wilderness emergency exposure will kill you the fastest, so some sort of shelter building skills are necessary.
Be sure to teach them about locating a proper location to build the shelter, free of danger from widow makers or flooding.
It is a fun exercise just to hit the local woods and build an overnight shelter with your kids.
Along with shelter, fire building skills will keep you warm in an emergency. You will need to evaluate the maturity of your own child to determine that you don’t create a fire bug, but fire building skills are something that children should know.
Proper Knife Handling
Another skill that will require your judgment on what and how much to teach is knife skills. I never received proper instruction as a child and have several scars to prove it.
The important things like keep your knife sharp and proper technique to keep from cutting yourself are paramount.
Basic First Aid
A small first aid kit with an instructional pamphlet makes a nice Christmas or birthday gift for a child. Local schools (at least the ones my kids attend) do a surprisingly good job of teaching the kids basic first aid and CPR. A small amount of reinforcement by you along with some additional instruction for treating emergencies in the wilderness will make your children into competent young people.
How to Find Water
Depending on what areas of the country you intend to take your children you should go over the various ways to find water in that area.
Teach them about purification techniques and where to find the safest water if they can’t purify it.
Hug a Tree
What is the very first thing you should do when you realize you are lost?
The answer is STOP, sit down and take stock of the situation. This is harder to teach to adults than it is to children since adults think they can fix it by continuing on.
Kids should learn that if they are lost they need to hug a tree and stay put in a small area. If they can, it should be slightly away from running water so that the sound doesn’t drown out the voices of rescuers calling for the child. Once they have their tree, every thing they do should be based around that tree. It is home base until they are found.
This works for adults too but as I said it is harder for them to get into their skulls they can’t fix the situation by getting more lost.
If you really care about your children take some time to teach them wilderness skills that will stick with them for a lifetime. They will thank you for it some day, and you will get to spend some quality time in the wild with them.