Camping is a fun family activity, but you can also use it to teach your kids some life skills. Here is how to use camping to teach survival skills to kids.
Summer months mean tons of time to use camping to teach survival skills to your kids. Not only is the warmer weather a great reason to head out to a great campsite with your family for a few days, it's a perfect time to do some natural homeschooling and education with your kids. These situations are perfect for teaching your kids, of all ages, how to cope with everyday survival needs. There are a ton of great lessons to teach while camping, and these are just few we know to be easy and fun for the entire family.
How to Use Camping to Teach Survival Skills to Kids
Learn how to read a compass. Reading a compass is pretty easy to learn, but understanding what that means in relation to where you are is more important. It's not just about being able to look at a compass and see what direction you are going, but knowing what direction you came from and where you want to go. Teach your kids about how to get their bearings when leaving camp. Help them to read where they are located on the compass before leaving camp so they will know what direction to head back toward after their hike. In the future, as they are out camping, hiking or exploring they can learn to use their compass to make sure they are going the correct general direction.
Learn where constellations are and what that means. There are a few standard constellations to learn to help understand directions. A basic star chart can help, as well as various apps you can download to your smartphone and use to locate specific stars and constellations. While you may not be able to teach about every star, you can help your kids understand what general direction specific things like the Big Dipper and Orion's belt are located.
Learn how to build and manage a fire. Fire means warmth as well as a means to cook food. Not only should your children learn how to build an appropriate fire using things like a lighter or matches, it is a great time to teach them how to use flint. You can head to the sporting goods department of any retail store and find flint to practice with. However, the basic skills are how to arrange and gather for a fire. Every fire needs 3 basic things: Fuel, Oxygen, and Heat. Fuel will be the sticks, logs, paper or other kindling items. Oxygen is a must to fuel the fire, and heat comes from matches, a lighter or in some cases the flint being used. Teach your children where to look for dry wood, as well as how things like dry leaves, bits of bark, and small pieces of branches are great kindling. Larger pieces of wood go on the bottom arranged in a manner to allow air flow. Without air, the fire won't spread. Stack kindling items on top and then light.
Learn how to find or catch food. You can easily find information online, or at your local park ranger station to tell you what are common items in your area that are edible. Learning to identify edible greens, berries, or even mushrooms in the wild can help you survive. Invest in a few printable guides you can find through the National Park services, or look for books in the library to take with you and help identify as you are camping. You can also teach your child about the basics of fishing, or setting a trap for small game. Animals like rabbits can be snared easily for a quick meal in the wild. While this may sound unsavory to some, these are life skills that could save a life if caught in the wild without access to other food sources.
Learn how to catch rainwater. Show your children how to use things like large leaves, cups, and rain barrels to catch rainwater for drinking purposes. Invest in some water purification tablets and kits to show your kids how to use them. Clean water is hard to find when in the wild, but there are ways to purify easily for drinking. Do a test run with a simple water purification kit, as well as talk about reasons why you shouldn't drink random creek, pond, or lake water while in the wild.
These are real life ways to use camping to teach survival skills. With simple things like building a fire to roast marshmallows, going on a hike together as a family or watching the stars at bedtime you can teach your children simple ways for them to survive should they be stranded.
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Originally published June 17, 2015. Updated July 7, 2017.