Every year I run between 400-600 kids through survival training through venues like Scooters Youth Hunting Camp, Idaho Hunters Ed, the Adventure IQ Survival Day Camp, and multiple seminars at outdoor events, sporting good stores, church events, and private workshops. From this experience I have found there are a few essential skills every 10 year-old should know.
A big part of this is parent/mentor involvement. Don’t just buy a bunch of cool survival gadgets and throw them in a pack. Take full advantage of your base camp- ie- Fort Backyard to learn and practice these skills. If you have been in one of my workshops you will remember that one of the keys to teaching kids is to teach them one skill at a time, let them gain mastery of it and show they are responsible, then place it in their hunting or hiking pack. For us the basic building block of any pack is a hydration bladder and a solid pack designed for the size of your kiddo.
Below are the 10 things I believe every 10 year-old should master and be responsible/accountable to :
How to Build Shelter
This not only has to do with keeping warm, but also making shade as well as staying put. From basic methods of using a light-weight nylon tarp to making shelter from natural resources, a shelter provides the psychological benefits of keeping busy-ie-keeping fear at bay, keeps them at one spot and from wandering around, and the sense of “place” they need to survive. In addition it will keep them out of the elements.
How to Use a Knife
Using a knife well is a skill that has long since been lost. In days of old- if you were 10 and had not whittled something cool you were pretty much relegated to go play dolls with your sister. It wasn’t long ago boys would sit at recess and compare blades. Sometime around the 8th or 9th grade most of us made a bowie-knife in shop.
A knife is a practical tool and one of the first to add in a kit when they learn to use it safely and have a maturity for it. Start kids out young with a simple pocket knife with no more than four tools- main blade, skinning blade, can opener, and one other implement. Keep the blades small at first then move up from there.
Most important, receiving a knife is a rite of passage so have a small ceremony and when your kiddo is old enough present them with a very special knife. My daughter received her first one at 9 during a camping trip. We made a huge deal out of it. Recently we did the same thing when she became one of my instructors, receiving an Air Force survival knife. Make them earn it, learn to use and respect it, then reward them with it.
I still have my first Buck 110 that my grandfather gave me.
How to Swap Batteries in a Head Lamp
Basic-but I know adults who struggle with this. The head lamp is one of the first survival items you can add to a pack. Practice changing batteries at Camp Living Room then move it out to Ft Backyard. Practice at night since this is when most dead batteries are discovered.
How to Make Fire
This is the single most confidence building skill for kids going into the back country- but take it beyond learning how to produce a flame with a cotton ball and petroleum jelly. Teach them how to clear an area, when fire is at high danger, and how to build at least two types of fire pits.
Get them proficient with one method (striker and cotton)and move them into other techniques. Practice on clear days and move them into adverse conditions like rain and snow. Be patient. This can be a difficult skill to learn, especially when working in wet and windy conditions. If you don’t have one, build a fire pit in Ft Backyard for practice.
This is a skill that needs to be practiced regularly at home, on family camping trips, and days hiking in the woods.
As an added bit of fun, experiment with friction methods like the bow drill.
How to Signal for Help
Signal mirrors and whistles are just a start. By the time your kiddo is 10 they should be able to properly use both of these. At 10- this is a solid start into other signal skills.
Know How to Fish
Teach a kid to fish. Then teach them how to use the small kit in their survival bag. Also- have them clean, cook, and eat what they take.
How to Give First-Aid/Self-Aid
Start simple. Being prepared and knowing how to use ALL the contents in their kit is essential.
How to Get Water
A small filter system is best for 10 year-olds olds and then moves them into more advanced skills with tablets, boiling, etc.
Don’t forget the obvious– where potable water is help in parks and camp sites.
How to Use a Slingshot or Bow
Another lost art. Teach the basic, go to the woods for some stump shooting, then either at FT Backyard or on a camping trip have them take game. We purchase quail or chickens for practice. It is good for a kid to understand that life must be taken in order to preserve life. Eat what you harvest and have them begin to learn how to field dress game respectfully.
How to Handle a Fire Arm
Shoot or don’t shoot. Just teach them how to handle it safely, and it’s not a toy. If you are gun adverse, at least teach them to leave it alone. If you are okay with your kiddo handling guns, get them training to do it correctly.
All of these are basic skills any 10-year-old can perform, but it is up to you to provide them a safe educational environment. For more information or to get us involved and partnering with you, please check us out at http://www.AdventureIQ.com