When teaching survival skills to our campers, I like to ask them if they have ever been in a situation where they’ve been lost or required to stay overnight in the wild. Fortunately, we haven’t had any campers stuck in serious survival situations, but how can we provide them with the basic skills if they were? These are several activities and ideas that teach basic survival skills that could prove to be useful.
If you find yourself in a situation where you become lost, injured, or face rapidly changing weather, it’s a good idea to use the STOP acronym. This stands for stop, think, observe, and plan. Maintaining a positive mental attitude and not panicking is essential when it comes to a survival situation. You can survive three minutes without oxygen, three days without water, and three weeks without food. However, panicking in a survival situation can quickly lead to disaster.
2. Shelter Building
If you find yourself in a survival situation where you know you’ll be spending the night in the wild, a shelter can make a huge difference. A shelter can be as simple as a dry spot beneath the overhanding branches of a pine tree, or as elaborate as a log shelter that is protected from the wind and cold. Depending on the environment you live in will also determine the type of shelter you can make. Start out simple with tarps or trash bags and work your way up to more advanced shelters made from downed logs. Take into account other factors when it comes to shelter building such as the proximity to water, dead trees, and the likelihood of rescuers finding you.
It’s always a good idea to carry some type of fire starter, whether it’s waterproof matches, a lighter, or magnesium stick. I like to teach kids how to start a fire with a magnesium stick, a pocketknife, and some type of tinder. Twine and dryer lint are easy to light and hold a flame for a short time. Showing kids how to build different types of fires for warmth and cooking are also important. I like to have kids gather tinder, kindling, and fuel and build different types of fires such as log cabin, teepee, or lean-to.
Finding water and food is also essential in survival situations. If water is available from a stream, it is still necessary to filter and boil for at least five minutes. A filter can be made with cloth, rocks, and sand. The water collected after running it through your filter should be clear. If you are in an area with snow, melt the snow instead of eating it. Eating snow can lead to hypothermia. When it comes to food, learning the types of edible plants in the area is best. Hunting and trapping skills are also beneficial, but can be difficult without the right equipment.
5. First Aid
Keeping a first aid kit in your pack is also essential. Your first aid kit should contain items such as bandages, gauze, tape, and pain medication. Knowing how to treat different types of cuts, wounds, or other injuries can make a huge difference when you’re in a survival situation. Carrying a good knife is also important and can be a handy tool in a variety of different ways.
Teaching kids these skills at a young age can help them practice and develop them over time. Although the likelihood of finding yourself in a survival situation might be rare, it’s a good idea to have basic knowledge and skills of what to do in case it does happen.