by The Proud Father
I would not put myself in the class of a “Doomsday Prepper” in any way not that there is anything wrong with that, but I do prepare for unseen events that could happen. I do lean more towards survival however, which does link with preparedness. My family and I love the outdoors whether it be; fishing, hiking, camping, hunting, or any number of other outdoor activities. I believe when you do these types of activities it is your responsibility to be able to survive in the event something tragic happens. I also believe it is important to teach my wife and children these skills in the event I am not always with them or they need to help out and understand what and why we are doing things if we are together. I have also found that this can be much more productive for learning and retaining that knowledge if it is fun. This can especially be true if you have daughters like I do.
For example last year we took a camping trip to the great outdoors. Being able to make a fire is a very important task that everyone should know if they are going to be doing any outdoor activity. Its great to be able to start a fire with a lighter or matches and lighter fluid, but will you always have those items and/or will they always work when you need them most. But being able to start a fire with a ferrocerium rod of some type is an invaluable skill that will always work if done properly.
So over the course of a day we did many things to prepare them for being able to start a fire and keep it going. First we took a walk out into the woods and looked at different tinder types, kindling, and fuel. This was a great time to get out and build those family bonds while teaching. Once that was done we went over a couple of different fire building types. We went over the teepee fire, lean-to, and self-feeding or pyramid type and how to build them. Which they then had to build in the fire pit provided at the campground. I don’t believe in just showing how to do it but letting them actually go hands on and do it themselves. Then comes the challenge.
For the challenge they were explained the rules. They were told they needed to build a fire ring first once both rings were completed they would both be given ten minutes to go out and get what they needed to build a fire and keep it going long enough to burn through a string. They were told that the winner of the challenge would get the choice of two prizes, which of course were both survival related. If this is the first time doing this the prize can be the flint they are using to get the fire started. I then set up two metal stakes around each fire pit and tied a string across that they need to burn through with their fire while they were gathering their supplies. Once the ten minutes is up they need to come back with all their supplies and lay them out how they want them before the timer starts for the actual challenge. Then I start the timer and let them go for it.
One of the best feelings in the world is watching your children succeed in something and watching the smiles on their faces when they do. It was after doing this they asked if the next time we went camping they could do a challenge on building a shelter and then sleep in the winner’s shelter for the night. After just on time teaching them a skill they started making up challenges for themselves. And for me that is the goal of teaching them, get them interested and then let them seek the knowledge it is far better than forcing someone to try to learn it.
When we got back from this trip they collected all the items they thought would be useful for their own survival kit. I was pleasantly surprised at what they had collected to put in their kits. At first they just used old backpacks they had lying around but because of their interest we got them better bags for Christmas, which they were very excited about. Yes two girls excited about getting a survival kit bag instead of another piece of clothing or some other item. That is a win for me. I have attached some pictures of what they have since collected and put in their bags. They also use some of their allowance money they earn to buy new items to put in and then ask when we can go camping next so they can try some of their new tools. Don’t get me wrong that is not all they spend or save their money for but they do think about it which is a sign of being prepared.
As you can see they have quite the assortment of items and some already know the motto of one is none and two is one by sheer accident. To go over some of the items they felt was important was a flint and striker, matches, cotton balls, knife, multi-tool, whistle, and flashlights. The paracord they had for making bracelets and found it could be used for many more things. They also both have slingshots that before hunter safety they just had fun shooting pop bottles at the edge of camp to see who could hit them all first. They now realize they could harvest small game if absolutely necessary. They also both have small first aid kits and small fishing kits. One of the first aid kits they found was from a safety day the local community was putting on for students and they were giving out for free. They came up to me and said dad look at this it’s a free first aid kit for my survival kit. The fishing kits they made by doing a covert raid on dad’s tackle box. I guess we will have to see if they can catch a fish with them the next time we go out fishing.
So all in all I have gotten two girls into a survival/preparedness mindset without them even really knowing it. I truly believe they now look at the outdoors with open eyes and know how fun and exciting it can be to enjoy them and they know that if something happens they can survive long enough to be rescued if they stay calm and where they are. I hope we will never have to use anything we have learned but I feel its better to know how to do it and never need it than to wish you’d have practiced a skill when you need it most.