Today’s kids seem to go through life with their collective noses glued to one type of screen or another. As a result they have missed out on learning many of the basic survival skills that children knew in past generations.
Here Are Nine Survival Skills Every Modern Child Should Master:
The Rule of Threes
A lot of survival guru’s teach a system for knowing what needs to be done, or what skills you should employ, and when. The one that has stuck with me and the one that I teach to everyone that will listen is the rule of threes, from Hood’s woods.
The rule of threes says that a person can survive three minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food.
If you ask a kid what is the first thing they would do if lost in the woods, they will probably answer “try to find something to eat” (many adults will answer the same). But if you look at the rule you will see a person can last three weeks without food. The correct answer (if you are breathing – air) is find shelter. Most people lost in the wilderness die of exposure.
The rule of threes, if it is memorized can help a lost child figure out what is important and prioritized their decisions.
Have a Secret Password
All families should employ a secret password that lets a child know that any message a stranger may deliver is actually from a parent.
If an emergency calls you away from picking your child up at school and you send someone else to do it, the child will know it is all right to go with that person if they have the correct password.
If you don’t use this system, what is to stop some stranger from abducting your child with some story that makes your child think the message comes from you? That can’t happen if you employ a secret password.
How to Start a Fire
I learned wrong as a child how to start a fire. I have struggled for years until I took the time and effort to learn properly. As a kid my parents always used lighter fluid or crumpled paper to start fires, which is fine until you don’t have either of those things.
My problem in the past has always been gathering far too little tinder and small kindling. After
taking the time to learn to do it right, I now gather plenty of each and usually have no problems, even using a spark instead of flame.
Take the time and supervise your child in the proper way to start a fire and the responsibilities that come with it. A good way to get them interested is that have a time competition to see how long it takes to burn through a string suspended three feet above the ground.
How to Safely use a Knife
Proper and safe use of a knife is an important skill for a child to learn. I have scars to prove my improper use as a child.
Improper technique can lead to serious injury or even death.
When, Where and How to Build a Shelter
This skill relies on the child recognizing they are lost and deciding to stay put. Many years ago they taught a program called “Hug a Tree” to children, that emphasized staying in one place once you realize you are lost.
Once that happens it is time to build a shelter. The child should learn to choose a safe spot for a shelter in your local environment. They must learn to recognize dangers such as widowmakers, overhanging rocks and other dangers to the shelter.
Another tip is to build the shelter a short ways away from running water. Most people (especially kids) will be drawn to a stream; the problem is that the sound of running water may cover up the voices of searchers calling the child’s name. Near a stream is great but not too close.
How to Grow a Garden
Some kids think all you need to do is plop a seed in the ground and you will be eating corn on the cob in a week or so. Kids need to learn the reality of growing their own food.
You can do this by making each child responsible for a small section of the garden. There they can grow anything they especially like, and they will learn what it takes to produce their own food.
How to Clean a Fish or Other Animal
This is one that most kids resist unless you start them young. I have told all my kids I will clean their first deer but after that they are responsible.
No one I know really enjoys field dressing animals, but it is something that needs to be done if you are going to feed yourself. Kids need to see it as just another step in the hunting/fishing process.
How to Tell Directions without a Compass
Your child may know that the road is generally south but have become turned around in the woods and have no idea which way south is. If they know how to find directions without a compass, they can self rescue, or find their own way back.
The easiest is to use the sun. Stick a stick in the ground and mark the tip of the shadow. A few minutes later mark it again and then again a few minutes later. The first mark is the western most point and the other marks head east.
At night if they know the big dipper they can find the North Star and mark north for travel when it is light.
Basic First Aid
Every child should learn basic first aid. Knowing how to stop bleeding or other emergency will give the child confidence in facing the unknown.
In our modern society many of these skills have gone by the wayside. One hundred years ago just about every child knew most of this stuff by the time they were in school; it was simple everyday living skills for them.