1) Foster a positive mental attitude
From the moment you decide to go on a camping trip or an outdoor excursion, make sure the attitude you are portraying before the children are one of positivity. Use the Boy Scout’s of America’s wilderness survival moto of S.T.O.P (Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan). Talk with the children about the meaning of the plan, that it is about being calm when we get lost and how we need to frame our mind to be positive, cautious, and thoughtful.
2) Planning and packing
Encourage the children to be part of a planning and packing process for a camping trip. They know it’s a big deal because they watch you make several trips to the car with camping supplies. They’ve probably witnesses first hand some frustration when something they wanted on the trip was forgotten. Allow them to write the list if you don’t already have one and be sure to include things they suggest on the list or have a logical reason for why something isn’t needed.
Discuss with your children what type of communication might need to occur if something threatening happens. It could be a stranger that enters your camp area and you don’t want to divulge information about the family. It could mean that when a codeword is said that everyone knows to keep a cell phone hidden for protection or another emergency type of action.
4) Purifying Water
Teach your children the importance of suitable drinking water in times of emergencies. Explain that humans can go weeks without food, but depending upon the temperature outside, it’s possible that without water we can die in a matter of hours. It may be worth the investment of purchasing a Lifestraw Portable Water Filter, or another comparable product, in the event that it is not possible to boil and sterilize water for drinking that has been pulled from a pond. Explain that if at possible the child should refrain from pulling water from stagnant ponds because of bacteria in the pond.
5) Basic First Aid
If you purchase a first aid kit, go over the ingredients with your child so he/she knows the importance and proper application for each item. Try not to carry items in the first aid kit that you will never use. That way you can carry items that you can use. Cotton balls and Vaseline can be used for cuts as well as using it for a fire-starter. Place a few candles and matches in the first aid kit. Also include bandages for sprains and Band-Aids, gloves, gauze, medical tape, scissors, tweezers, safety pins, a knife, your preferred pain reliever, rubbing alcohol, an antiseptic cream and some aloe-vera cream, eye wash or eye drops, duct tape, a whistle, a flashlight with some spare batteries and some hand sanitizer.
6) Reading a map
Take the time to explain to your child how to read a paper map. Either before you begin the trip or after you arrive, talk about the route you took and let some landmarks resonate with him/her for what is north, south, east, or west so that it will help the child if you are on a biking trip. Take some paper and let your child draw a map for you on how to get to the restroom at the campsite or another location, i.e., the campsite office. Use the compass to find your way around which you learned how to use in the previous blog.
7) Read the weather
Just a few weather tips and a link for more: .
Remember this saying: “Red sky at night, sailors take delight (next day likely nice); red sky in morning, sailors take warning (rain expected by end of the day).”
Heavy dew in the late morning or at night could mean 12 hours of continued good weather.
8) Signaling for help
Teach your child the smart way to signal for help should it be needed. Use the whistle in the first aid kit instead of screaming, which only brings on anxiety and drains the body of needed energy. Use three quick sound blasts in succession to signal the international need for help. Keep a cell phone turned off to save the batteries charge until you know you are in an area with coverage.
9) Foraging for Food
Tips on hunting and fishing were shared on the previous blog. Invest in a local area Wild Flower Guide book to carry with you on camping trips and go over the plants you recognize with your child that are edible and point out those that are poisonous. Just in case, pack some high protein snacks for emergencies; i.e., nuts, jerky, etc.
10) Cooking a basic meal
Decide with your child what meal would be a good one to learn to cook. It doesn’t have to be one that is cooked over an open fire, it could be packaged grits and cheese that just needed boiling hot water. You could also teach them to make Ramen noodles with hot water. That way if you couldn’t cook for some reason, they could do it for you.
Be proud of yourself for putting the time into your child’s life to teach them these life skills. It will help their self-esteem and confidence to grow.