If your children love the outdoors and activities like camping or hiking, be sure to teach them skills that will allow them to survive if the need ever arises. Though you may keep close watch on your children when you are out in the wilderness, a person must always have the tools to survive, as you never know what may happen.
Teach Them to STOP
If a child realizes he is lost or alone, his first inclination will usually be to run as fast as he can back in the direction he believe leads to safety. However, this is the best way to get even more lost. In a controlled environment, make a game out of a survival technique that is vital.
Before starting the game, explain to him how he should react if he is lost. First, he should Stop and try not to get worked up. He should take deep breaths and count to 10. Then, he is to Think. He cannot afford to allow panic to overtake his decision making. Ensure that he understands that every single step must be thought out and planned. Nothing is to be done in haste. Next, Observe. Is there anything he can take to aid him, such as a big, sturdy stick or any supplies like a rain jacket? He should also assess the terrain; ask him to notice if it is rocky or dry. Have him figure out how he can show he passed through an area if he has to move. His last step is to Plan. If he has to relocate, he must plan how he will leave his mark to lead those searching for him. He must also plan where he will sleep or how he will stay safe.
To begin the game, take him to a remote corner of your backyard and explain that he is now lost. Tell him that he must now use the STOP method. Remind him that it means Stop, Think, Observe and Plan, states the Adventure Sports Online website. Ask him to think aloud so you can help him with any areas he struggles with. Continue doing this activity, even on camping trips, so he gets comfortable with how he should react in an emergency situation, regardless of where he happens to be.
Shelter is the single most important necessity for survival, after water. Take your kids on a nature walk in your backyard or on a fishing or hiking excursion. During the walk, ask your children to point out places that could be used as a shelter if they became lost. Also ask them to find items to make a shelter. With those items, practice making things like a lean-to or a make-shift door against an enclosed rock shelf.
These activities will help your children learn to see and utilize objects found in nature and on their person to survive a night, or multiple nights, alone in the wilderness. Shelters provide protection physically and emotionally in survival situations, according to the Alderleaf Wilderness College.
Improvisation is not just for comedy. This skill is necessary out in the wilderness as well, especially when it comes to survival. A rain jacket can be used for more than a way to stay dry. It can also be used as a water collector or a net to catch a fish. Your children need to be able to see items such as these for more than just their intended use.
To help expand their minds, pick out a random object during a camping trip, like a water bottle, and ask how it could be used for survival. Once they come up with multiple options, move on to another item, like a shoe. This activity will help your children understand that, when it comes to survival, a string on a shoe can be a fishing pole instead of just something to keep your shoe on your foot.