Recall the parable that went something like…”Give a man a fish and feed him for a day … Teach a man how to fish and he eats forever.” Simple logic that should be applied to teaching your children how to survive. You won’t always be there to perform the tasks required to survive, therefore, it’s imperative you teach them all you can while you can.
Of course that’s an infinite subject matter defined by our own knowledge and opinions of what skills are imperative to know. I offer you a list of what some “Expert” survivalists consider must know skills. I’ll preface this by stating I know this is not all inclusive, but it’s a good starting point.
Skills for Teaching Your Children How to Survive
1. Learn how to grow your own food. This is especially true of vegetables grown from seed. Seeds are the easiest and safest method to preserve and transport food to be grown, however, growing food, any food, from scratch is not easy. It will require research and gaining knowledge of dirt, pesticides, minerals, etc. everything that will give you an edge for successfully growing food from seed. It very well may end up being a long term life or death situation.
2. Learn how to make a fire. This doesn’t mean lighting ready made dry tinder with a lighter. It means learning several different methods of starting a fire such as using a fire-stick, matches, creating a friction fire, etc etc. There is a train of thought that you should master one method of creating fire and be familiar with at least two other methods. I tend to encourage the more methods you know the better chances of having a fire. Is it too much to ask to master 3 or 4 methods?
3. Learn fire safety. For all practical purposes nobody intentionally starts a fire that they lose control of and endanger their own lives, but it happens. It’s important to recognize potential hazards around you before attempting to start a fire. Once you lose control you’re in deep trouble.
4. Learn to cook on an open fire. That may sound simplistic, but think about it. You may not have a grate to place your food on, or metal utensils to flip it with, or a bowl to hold the soup. Learn to improvise and adapt. Make primitive utensils.
5. Learn how to open a can. When you think of longevity of maintaining safe food you think of canned goods. However, cans are not easy to open without a can opener or a stout knife. (Rub the edge of the can against the concrete or other rough surface, thinning the metal, then use a sharp stick to pry it open)
6. Learn to tell the difference between food still edible and food that is too rotten and dangerous to consume. Most people don’t consider road kill or an animal that has been killed by another as particularly palatable, but the day may come when any food will do and as long as it doesn’t make you deathly ill it’s on the menu. Knowing the difference of can and cannot be eaten can be the difference between life and death.
7. How to safely use a knife. Certain common sense methods such as always cut away from you. A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. A knife is a major tool in survival activities, teach how to properly use it.
8. How to hunt small game with snares and/or traps. Chances are you won’t have a gun with you, therefore large prey are not an option. You’ll need to know how to capture rabbits, squirrels, etc. on which to survive.
9. You may want to throw in the ability to craft and use a slingshot for hunting small game. Ammo (rocks) is never a problem finding.
10. How to fish, using line and bait, traps and bow and arrow. Fish is an excellent source of protein on which you can live indefinitely. Learn the proper method of skinning and cleaning fish. Some fish, like a catfish, can inflict a painful sting with its back fin (spike) if you’re not careful.
11. Throw in learning how to field dress wild game. Do it wrong and you could end up tainting the meat or making it nearly impossible to eat because of embedded hair or fur.
By now you may be thinking “I didn’t realize there was so much to consider on Teaching Your Children How to Survive,” We aren’t near finished…. Just took a short breather.
12. Learning how to find water where there doesn’t appear to be any is a life saving skill. This can include skills such as recognizing types of vegetation that indicates water is near, knowing what elevation to begin digging in search of water and knowing if the water is safe to drink once located.
13. Knowing how to sanitize any water found in the wild, including boiling, filtering and/or chemical usage. Dehydration is a double edged sword. If you drink contaminated water because you don’t know how to make it safe to drink, you’ll become violently ill which hastens the dehydration process and ultimately … death. But if you don’t drink the water you’ll also die of dehydration. Obviously, the only choice is learn how to sanitize water for human consumption.
14. Learn basic first aid. There is nearly a 100% chance if you are in the wilderness for any extended time period, you will injure yourself. Hopefully it will only be a blister, small cut or a splinter, but it may be worse. One must realize, basic first aid is intended to keep the injury from becoming worse through infection or unintended movement of injured body parts. A good understanding of basic first aid can prevent a small injury from becoming a life threatening situation.
15. Teach the importance of basic hygiene. Ironically in periods of war the most requested item soldiers ask for is clean socks. Feet exposed to continued wet and dirty conditions contract trench foot, a foot condition which is extremely painful and totally immobilizes the solder. This is but one example of the importance of maintaining normal good hygiene.
16. In some cases this could be extremely important, in others maybe not so much so, but the ability to recognize local vegetation that can be used for medicine or a diet supplement could be real handy. Caution must be exercised when deciding what wild vegetation to eat, as some safe varieties may resemble poisonous ones. If in doubt … don’t eat it.
17. It’s imperative your teach your kids how to locate and/or build a shelter. Exposure to the elements is the number one reason for deaths of people lost in the wilderness and it’s totally avoidable.
18. Teaching the art and reasoning of why and when to stay hidden is important. Kids are by nature a trusting bunch, especially if they are lost or injured. It’s a shame to say, but it’s very true, “Not everyone can be trusted,” and in a possible survival crisis situation that becomes more possible than ever. Teach your kids caution, no different than never accept a ride from a stranger.
19. Learn how to make a basic weapon and how to use it. One must remember, an unarmed human in the wilderness is no longer at the top of the food chain. Consider your dog and the way it plays with stuffed animals, throwing them about and tearing it to shreds… maybe that bear will only want to play with you.
20. Know how to read a map and use a compass. Going in circles in the wilderness can drive a person to insanity.
21. Learn how to make weather predictions by reading the sky and the clouds. You can’t change the weather, but knowing to quickly get out of the flash flood gully you are camped in before it rains could save your life.
22. Learning how to sew is a great skill to have. Besides repairing or totally creating clothing, this ability will be needed in suturing cuts closed.
There are a lot of issues to look at when deciding on which skills Teaching Your Children How to Survive are critical. I have no doubt every reader of this post will be asking “Hey, what about so and so? It’s more important than some of these listed.” And in most cases you will be absolutely correct. But that only goes to further illustrate how difficult it can be to teach everything your children need to know in order to survive.
There are survival classes, some excellent, which teach survival skills, the US military is probably the best at accomplishing this task. But even at that there’s only so much time, so much ability to grasp and learn and so much money to be spread around. Crash courses are OK but Teaching Your Children How to Survive is a life long en-devour which can be the best bonding activity a family can ever have.
I’ll leave you with one last suggestion and I’ll not debate it. Have a strong faith in God. Ultimately, everyone reaches a point in which their mental, physical and emotional abilities are exhausted. A strong spiritual strength can make the difference of complete surrender or the ability to summon enough strength to carry on for just one more day.