So I’m coming up with an idea, based on my fantastic Sunday afternoon, for a class for kids on survival and outdoor living. It’s a simple plan, teaching the basics over a two- or three-day period. Take a look and tell me what you think:
First, what are the essentials? Water, shelter, food. Second, what type of situation is this? Long-term, or lost? This makes a huge difference—in the first, you’re prepared, or should be, before it starts; in the second, you’re planning (or hoping) for a rescue within a short time.
Day One: Learning Skills
Let’s start with becoming lost in the woods, because at this time it’s the far more likely scenario. And let’s assume that the individual—although it could be a couple or a group of any size—has no communication devices, or at least no cell service.
Just like anything, you could do things the hard way or the easy way. The easy way is to be prepared ahead of time for that day hike and carry a few of the basics with you: matches or firestarter, knife or other weapon, water purification tablets, heat blanket, rain poncho, compass, whistle. Think that’s a lot? Nope, it’ll all fit in your pockets without being bulky or constraining, but if you think it’s too much, carry a small pack. Throw in some protein bars and an extra water bottle, and you’re set. And, if you carry a pack, you can add a few more things, like a small, collapsible container—heat-proof, of course—and a first aid kit.
Set for what? To get lost, of course!
Anytime you go into the woods, you have to assume you could be there for the long haul. Don’t pass up something potentially useful, like an old, empty bird’s nest for example, or a few wild strawberries. I’m not suggesting picking every plant you see, or dragging around a log for firewood, just in case, but be smart, and be nature-friendly.
Skills covered: observation, useful items, packing, planning, fire-building, tools
Day Two: Practice and What to Do When
Hiking is more than walking: it’s pacing yourself, limiting your impact on your surroundings, showing restraint, and much more. Keep an even, steady stride; step ON logs, not OVER them—Mr. Copperhead could be sunning himself on the far side of that log. Watch and listen. Sip your water. Conserve your resources: water, food, energy.
Take what you need, but not all that you want. Don’t uproot plants. Step carefully to avoid injury; test your path before you commit. Sound travels—which is good when you become lost, but not so great for others who want to enjoy the woods too.
Role-playing: what do if you get lost in the woods—first, second, third; splitting up—good or bad; when and where to settle down for the long haul.
Day Three: What To Do
Practice makes perfect! You know how the reality survivor shows work, right? Those people aren’t really alone, there’s a camera crew present. They aren’t allowed to interfere except in life-and-death situations. Now, with kids, you have to have a certain parameter which would also include injury, but Day Three is about getting lost. For real.
So, readers, what do you think? Feasible? Fun? Useful? Comment below!