Tag Archives: kids

4 Skills to Perfect in Fort Backyard

So you’ve been reading our articles, went to one of our camps, or maybe just looking for something fun to do with the family. Here are four skills you can perfect in your back yard before you have to use them for real.

Fire Craft

The single greatest skill for both confidence and usefulness is mastering fire craft. But don’t play with matches; work on two paths of mastery. The first is using a sparking device like the Light My Fire from Industrial Revolution. The second is learning a primitive technique such as the bow-drill.612

Once you begin to master- push yourselves to experiment with various tools and harder conditions. A great activity for gaining experience is to tie natural fiber rope to two stakes or rods in the ground about 18 inches high and time yourselves on how long it takes to bundle materials, get a flame, and then burn the rope down.

The ability to start a fire is key to staying alive in the wilderness. This means fire starting is a priority in the list of bushcraft skills.

Some residential zones may restrict fire to specified enclosures. If restricted then use a homemade or purchased fire-pit for containment. We built a pit using 8”x12”concreate pavers to create a pit to practice in.

Gimme’ Shelter

Many backyards don’t have ready-sized trees to practice with. Still, there are many things you can do to create shelter. You can use t-post stakes purchased from local farm and feed stores to create anchor points that simulate trees and common tent stakes to represent natural wood stakes you would normally make in the back country. Just know where water, electric, and sprinkler lines lay.

Experiment with tarps, ponchos, and even a few discarded pieces of lumber. You kids will love that you are building a fort with them.

Learn a few knots, get some decent 550- cord and get to it!

Wood Splitting- Knife Skills

608Wood splitting with a survival knife- also known as batoning can add a valuable wilderness survival skill to your toolbox. This is useful because it helps you in creating smaller- easier to ignite pieces of wood even when the wood is wet. Learn with a full blade survival knife and work your way to using a small axe or hatchet.

Bushcraft Cooking

You’re getting the hang of fire building so might as well use it to try your cooking over an open fire. You can choose to use a grate in the beginning- but move yourself into experimenting with cooking with Dutch Ovens, #10 cans, and wooden spits.

Try making a “survival stew (anything you find in the fridge) in a coffee can or pick up a Cornish hen and cook it over open coals. Be sure to follow all safe food handling protocols- and it’s okay to use a meat thermometer to help you learn.

We still use Fort Backyard to master skills, and these four will get you on a path to perfecting skills before you have to use them.

Nothing Routine

Another kid is out there this morning. Somewhere possibly worried. Possibly hurt. God forbid, dead.

I am amazed when I walk into a room and whether its a bow-hunting club or a troop full of Eagle Scouts, how there are so many survival “experts”. I am equally blown away by the idea that a weekend camping trip or day trip to the woods is somehow safe. In addition, how the four letters P.A.R.K. some how makes a trip so innocent.

The facts are simple people. We are not at the top of the food chain when we go outside. The lives we lead, sitting with our @$$3$ on a couch playing video games, watching the latest episode of “Naked and Afraid”, or browsing the fridge for our next meal does nothing to get us ready for when things go wrong. Even worse, the self-proclaimed “experts” (atv guys, hunters, hikers, etc.) are more likely to wind up in a body bag or as a minimum, a SAR statistic because they first of all, have increased risk due to exposure, and second have developed a huge ego. Sorry guys, the numbers speak for themselves.

In cases involving kids who get lost or are in a survival situation, they are more likely to rely on training they have BEEN AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN. This is why all of our workshops require hands-on training. We have documented cases where kids we have trained have used our information in real-life scenarios and not only waited out the situation until rescue, were able to provide a calming impact on adults.

It is simple people. We not only need basic instruction in the outdoor survival disciplines, but an on-going diet of training and practical simulations.

See the article that prompted this quick write-up

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Authorities-seek-teen-missing-after-camping-trip-5603681.php

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Ten Things Your 10 Year-old Should Know about Survival

Your job is to provide your kiddo with skills and knowledge to make it back alive if something was to happen

Your job is to provide your kiddo with skills and knowledge to make it back alive if something was to happen

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.

Start with simple skills- then progress to more difficult scenarios

Start with simple skills then progress to more difficult scenarios

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.

Signal is simple in concept- but teaching correct target aquisition takes practice

Signal is simple in concept- but teaching correct target acquisition takes practice

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.

Abby and Dan

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

Re Post: Babes in the Woods

Video: GPS for Confidence Building
I wanted to repost this since–my “Babe in the Woods” has been promoted to a cadre position on my team…

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Lighting a fire in wet conditions, and not rescuing from the failures is tough…

I have never been a fan of the notion everybody wins. When coaching youth roller hockey in San Antonio, I had one of the few, and eventually the only program that still kept score in the YMCA portfolio of sports programs.

I believe that you need to give kids a realistic view of their performance, but done so in a way that you leverage their strengths in whatever evaluation you are doing. I don’t believe in sugar-coating the feedback, or playing with soft gloves. I also don’t believe in being harsh on them either.

In all my workshops, coaching endeavors, or training I do with kids, military leaders, new adults to the woods, etc is the same… I define the conditions and expectations, allow them to perform, allow them to self evaluate, and then provide guidance and feedback.

The other aspect is tough. I don’t rescue. I allow failure as long as safety is not compromised. Nothing is learned if I am constantly helping a participant to a point I am completing the task them.

Let’s discuss two situations where I have to guide a participant differently.

The first is a fire building scenario. The participant has a good grasp of the concept, understands how to use flint and steel, knows the type of tinder and has been highly successful in starting fires in the past. But this has all been in controlled conditions when it has been fair weather and dry materials.

Survival fires though are most often needed when conditions are wet and clammy. To really test skills, I have to put the participant into real conditions so they not only have the ability to start fires and get warm when most needed, but to have the confidence to do so.

Most fail in getting the fire started in these conditions. Many times, I fail. It is a difficult test to complete. But the real learning is through the debrief with the participant and allowing them to do it again.

Watching a participant unnecessarily expending energy to grab materials, using the wrong materials, standing by and watching the fire not start can be irritating and the desire to jump in can be powerful. But I have to let them fail. This is because the participant has acquired a level of mastery in controlled conditions that can lead to over-confidence which is just as dangerous as not having the skills at all. Here you have to have the tough love and not jump in, allow them to identify their own mistakes, and then provide guidance.

In the other situation, a participant who is new to GPS navigation. In this scenario, the participant is just learning, and allowing them to fail outright as they work to program coordinates, follow the gps to a target, and try to find the best path to get to the target can be overwhelming. In this case I will work closely with the participant and provide constant coaching and working them to success. I still use the same debrief techniques of “what, so what, now what” that I have discussed in the blog and podcast in the past.

Building a solid toolbox of skills is an on-going exercise. As a team, constantly work on our skills to either keep them sharp or learn new techniques. It is also what helps us in communicating with each other and building our team and our families to a tighter cohesive group.

I am not a fan of the everybody wins philosophy. In the back-country people die. There is no second place with mother nature, just a body bag.

Original article: http://waukeefamilyymca.blogspot.com/2011/09/everybody-plays-everybody-wins.html

For more information about us, please checkout http://www.AdventureIQ.com for other blogs, podcast, and videos.

Five Games to Keep You Sane

We have all been on that trip.

A camping trip where it rains the entire weekend and you have hours to spend in a trailer, camper, or tent. The Christmas road trip where you get stuck in a hotel for multiple days because roads and passes are closed. The vacation that has you pent up for hours at an airport due to missed or cancelled flights. I started carrying miniature versions of games with me when I was deploying around the globe in support of my military occupation. They were great for keeping me entertained, and sometimes meeting new people.

When the DS or Gameboy batteries or adventures become stale, the internet has been surfed to its end point, one can’t possibly look at another paragraph in that awesome book bought along, and when the boredom monster strikes, we have an arsenal of games we pull out to keep us connected as a family, occupy time, and combat the temptation to flame each other. These are the five games to keep you sane on a road trip, adventure, or vacation.

Uno
This is an old standby that gets overlooked. Don’t worry about buying the mini-version and if you already have the updated Uno Spin, just ditch the wheel and grab the cards. Probably better known here in the U.S., Uno is card game which is played with a specially printed deck. since 1992. The game is similar to Crazy Eights that my Grandpa Turner would play with me as a kid.

The Uno deck has 112 cards. There are 26 of each color (blue, green, red, yellow) each color having two of each number except 0, and 4 blank cards. The numbers in each color are 0 to 9. There are also cards directing the actions of “Skip”, “Draw Two” and “Reverse” Finally, the deck contains four each of “Wild” and “Wild Draw Four” cards.
It’s a fairly simple game to play and we started Abby on it around when she was 8 or 9 years old.

Zombie Dice
I’m just not into the whole Zombie thing. I don’t have a Zombie bug out bag. My rig doesn’t have anything that is Zombie proof. I don’t even have a Zombie hunting permit. But I do have Zombie Dice!

I like Zombie Dice because it is more than luck, you have to take risk with your luck…probably much like a real zombie apocalypse. Each player on their turn has to shake a cup (we use a Crown Royal bag) containing 13 dice and randomly select 3 of them without looking into the cup/bag and then roll them.

The faces of the dice represent brains, shotgun blasts or “runners”. There are various colors of the dice, green, red, yellow. Each color has a its own distribution of faces, the green dice have 3 brains, 1 shotgun and 2 runners, the yellow dice have 2 of each and the red dice have 1 brain, 3 shotguns and 2 runners.

The object of the game is to roll 13 brains. If a player rolls 3 shotgun blasts their turn ends and they lose the brains they have accumulated so far that turn. A winner is determined if a player rolls 13 brains and all other players have taken at least one more turn without reaching 13 brains.

Story Cubes
I have presented these before in our videos and podcast and have even used them to interrupt writer’s block. The idea is to roll the images on these story cubes to make up your own once-upon-a-time type story. We like this game because even though it is simple, it requires someone to think out of the box and be creative.

There are several variations we use other than one person rolling and telling the whole story, we also will have someone roll, and then each takes a turn in telling the story. I also use this as a tool in my presentation skills workshop when working with a team that is highly technical and very little conceptual in their Emergenetics profile.

Timeline
This is one of our latest editions. I was actually a tester for this at a conference awhile back. I like it because we use it to learn more about historical events, inventions, and other interesting happenings of the past.

With Timeline you have to make decisions if the mouse was invented before or after the laptop computer or did the Crusades happen before or after the Black Plague? This game takes up a bit more space and needs a flat surface.

There are several kits including Inventions, History, and Diversity. We like to mix and match the sets. If you have Internet, keep an iPad or other device close by to look up and learn more about an event or invention.
At the beginning of the game, players all get the same number of cards representing monuments, inventions, etc. On the back of each card is a date.

To begin, one card is randomly drawn from the deck. This card is placed in the middle of the table, date-side up and is the starting point of a chronological line which will slowly be built by the players. The first player then chooses one of their cards (they cannot look at the date).
If the player thinks that the invention on their card came before that of the initial card, the player places their card to the left of the initial card. If they feel that the invention on their card was created after, it is placed to the right of the initial card.

Once placed, the player’s card is then turned date-side up. If the player was right, it remains on the table. Otherwise, the card is discarded and a new one must be drawn to replace it. The first player to get rid of their cards wins.

Flash
Another rookie to our game roster. This is allot like Yatzee, only way cooler and not as time consuming. Flash is a lightning fast dice game. Players work to rack up the most points as they race through 8 dice challenges. Everybody rolls for a specific set chosen and any player could score.

Flash has several game variations you can play. If it’s an adult party, it could easily become a drinking game.

It comes with its own travel pouch which makes it a game on the go.

You Can Help Support Free Survival and Outdoor Training
Every year we provide free survival seminars to kids and adults. This year we will teach close to 1200 individuals how to comeback alive should they find themselves in a backcountry emergency at no charge. Be sure to check out our website for these games and use any of our Amazon links from there to purchase. All your Amazon purchases go for gear we use in our free survival seminars.

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Tough Love-Babes in the Woods

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Lighting a fire in wet conditions, and not rescuing from the failures is tough…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This goes along with our podcast- you can find it at http://www.Adventure IQ.com)

I have never been a fan of the notion everybody wins. When coaching youth roller hockey in San Antonio, I had one of the few, and eventually the only program that still kept score in the YMCA portfolio of sports programs.

I believe that you need to give kids a realistic view of their performance, but done so in a way that you leverage their strengths in whatever evaluation you are doing. I don’t believe in sugar coating the feedback, or playing with soft gloves. I also don’t believe in being harsh on them either.

In all my workshops, coaching endeavors, or training I do with kids, military leaders, new adults to the woods, etc is the same… I define the conditions and expectations, allow them to perform, allow them to self evaluate, and then provide guidance and feedback.

The other aspect is tough. I don’t rescue. I allow failure as long as safety is not compromised. Nothing is learned if I am constantly helping a participant to a point I am completing the task them.

Let’s discuss two situations where I have to guide a participant differently.

The first is a fire building scenario. The participant has a good grasp of the concept, understands how to use flint and steel, knows the type of tinder and has been highly successful in starting fires in the past. But this has all been in controlled conditions when it has been fair weather and dry materials.

Survival fires though are most often needed when conditions are wet and clammy. To really test skills, I have to put the participant into real conditions so they not only have the ability to start fires and get warm when most needed, but to have the confidence to do so.

Most fail in getting the fire started in these conditions. Many times, I fail. It is a difficult test to complete. But the real learning is through the debrief with the participant and allowing them to do it again.

Watching a participant unnecessarily expending energy to grab materials, using the wrong materials, standing by and watching the fire not start can be irritating and the desire to jump in can be powerful. But I have to let them fail. This is because the participant has acquired a level of mastery in controlled conditions that can lead to over-confidence which is just as dangerous as not having the skills at all. Here you have to have the tough love and not jump in, allow them to identify their own mistakes, and then provide guidance.

In the other situation, a participant who is new to GPS navigation. In this scenario, the participant is just learning, and allowing them to fail outright as they work to program coordinates, follow the gps to a target, and try to find the best path to get to the target can be overwhelming. In this case I will work closely with the participant and provide constant coaching and working them to success. I still use the same debrief techniques of “what, so what, now what” that I have discussed in the blog and podcast in the past.

Building a solid toolbox of skills is an on-going exercise. As a team, constantly work on our skills to either keep them sharp or learn new techniques. It is also what helps us in communicating with each other and building our team and our families to a tighter cohesive group.

I am not a fan of the everybody wins philosophy. In the back-country people die. There is no second place with mother nature, just a body bag.

Original article: http://waukeefamilyymca.blogspot.com/2011/09/everybody-plays-everybody-wins.html

For more information about us, please checkout http://www.AdventureIQ.com for other blogs, podcast, and videos.

Scooters Prep

Its that time of year we checkout as we prep for Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp. While our days still have us working the 9-5 (well 6-6), we have been spending each evening and weekend getting ready for the camp. In the mean time, we are still rock’n our podcast, building videos, and doing all the other activities that support Adventure IQ.

On the heals of that we will be taking a journey to Arizona to attend workshops at Overland Expo to get our crew ready for new adventures.

We also have our own kids day camp we are doing this year in August. We have built a dynamic team of instructors who will train 10-15 year-olds outdoor skills such as fire building, water purification, shelter, and wilderness first aid.

Stay tuned….

Be sure to check out the podcast for our new and improved show

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