This has been a long but needed process.
Many of you know I teach a special session on survival for kids at places like Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp as well as other venues. This is a course that is scaled down to the abilities and mind set of kids from 10-16 years of age. We keep it interactive and the kids get hands on experience with fire craft, water purification, and other skills. I also pass on specific advice of what to put in a kids pack as well as what not to place in there.
As a parent of a soon to be 11-year old who has grown up with the advantage of not only seeing her dad use these skills in the real world, but has also been a student of mine. But instead of the abbreviated session I do for Scott’s camp, I get a more in-depth opportunity to ensure she masters various skills.
My approach has been simple, and also teaches her responsibility with the tools she is given. Let’s face it- most people cringe when you tell them your kiddo has a knife and knows how to start a fire. Each tool is thoroughly trained and mastered and even monitored for proper use. The last thing I want is her cutting herself or starting a wildfire. So let me walk you through the tools and the methodology I have used along the way.
This is the building block of her survival training. If I can keep her drinking water then she will always increase her odds of living should she get separated from us. This started out with a small Camelback designed specifically for kids and did not hold any items in it- it was just a water bladder with straps. Since she was 4 or 5 her responsibility was to make sure it was always full when we went out. As she grew more responsible we added a name tape for her on it as a symbol of getting wiser on trips. She was also keeping her “Junior Ranger” badges on it that she earned at various national parks. She has out grown that pack and tonight she got a new Camelback (Scout) in hot pink. Great color for girls and noticeable in the woods. (There is a blue one for boys). It will hold her other basic tools she has earned to this point as well as rain jacket, gloves, wool hat, and flashlight.
When Abby was four she started earning a headlamp of her own. This was done by turning her borrowed lamp off when not in use, not pointing it in people’s eyes in camp, and knowing how to change both battery and bulb. She received her very own lamp when she was seven or eight.
Flint and Steel Fire Starter
I still do not believe in matches- specifically for a kiddo. Through practice and increasing responsibility she earned her own flint and steel fire striker. Along with a bag full of dryer lint and bits of pencil shavings she is ready for the woods. I have given her the job of starting family bon fires in the backyard and campfires when we are in the woods. She does everything from prep phase to extinguish. She did get it taken away from her at one point and had to earn it back. Smokey Bear would be proud of her.
Many of us had knives early in life but it is such a different world. I remember carrying a 300 series Buck Knife to school in a black case on my belt and no one cared at all. Not the world we live in today. In addition, the last thing I need is for her to make a bad situation worse. The knife has been a hard fought process for her. Just when I would think she was ready she would do something to make me think twice. But she has finally earned the privilege to carry a folding pocket knife. Tonight inside her new pack was a Swiss Army knife.
I have tried to make each stage important for her and I will continue this series as she earns other tools such as a compass, signal devices, purification tablets, etc. It is my belief that anything you put into a kids pack should be limited to ONLY the tools they know how to use and have demonstrated the proper use and car of.
I would encourage you to get you and your family trained in survival. I offer this as free service to anyone who request it (based on schedule availability). I also invite you to sign your kiddo up for camps such as Scooter’s. It is a first rate camp and we have had many success stories come out of it from both the hunting as well as the survival perceptive.