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10 Easy and Valuable Survival Skills You Can Teach Kids

Parents have a significant responsibility when it comes to raising kids. Not only do they have to help keep them safe and provide for their needs, but they also must educate them and prepare them to be self-sufficient humans. Kids must learn how to drive, balance their bank accounts, and do many more mundane tasks. However, it’s also crucial for kids to have a solid grasp of basic survival skills.

Today, we’re sharing 10 essential, easy, and valuable survival skills you can teach your kids. You never know when they’ll need to use them. Let’s get started!

Basic Survival Skills for Children

Why Should Kids Spend Time Outdoors?

Getting kids outdoors is more important now than ever. We live in a world surrounded by screens and electronics. Spending time outdoors helps kids improve their agility, balance, and coordination. Kids who spend time outdoors naturally strengthen their muscles, challenge their bones, and improve physical endurance.

Spending time outdoors also helps kids to have a lifelong appreciation for nature and wildlife. The more time kids spend outdoors, the more likely they are to develop a sense of responsibility for caring for the environment. Those who struggle with hyper children will also appreciate how spending time outdoors helps their kids to burn off energy.

What Are the Benefits of Camping With Kids?

There are many benefits to camping with kids. Camping is an excellent way for families to bond and spend time together. Many families live hectic schedules between work, school, and extracurricular activities. Camping trips can be perfect for slowing down as a family and being present with one another.

There are many lessons that camping can teach kids. Kids can gain an appreciation and respect for nature, learn the importance of independence, and learn that people don’t need nearly as much stuff to get by.

Camping also is an excellent opportunity to teach survival skills to kids that they can use when they find themselves in an emergency. Camping can be as expensive or inexpensive as you make it, and you can slowly acquire gear to make camping more comfortable and enjoyable.

Pro Tip: Teach your tots the 5 C’s of Survival for safe camping.

Mom and daughter eating food together on camping trip while learning survival skills
Teaching your children survival skills will instill in them self-confidence.

10 Easy and Valuable Survival Skills for Kids

Most parents want to prepare their kids to handle whatever life throws their way. One of the best ways to do this is to teach them survival skills they can use when they find themselves in a difficult situation.

With some knowledge and skills, kids can stay calm during an emergency or stressful situation. Let’s look at some easy and valuable survival skills you can teach your kids.

1. How to Build a Fire

Building a fire is an essential survival skill everyone should know how to do. A fire can provide light, warmth, and heat for cooking. Adults can teach kids the basics of building a fire, like gathering kindling, selecting wood, and the various methods used for starting a fire.

Not only is it essential to know how to build a fire, but also how to do so responsibly. Teaching your little ones how to create a firepit to prevent fires from spreading, that they should never leave a fire unattended, and how to extinguish the fire before packing up camp is essential for them to become responsible campers and fire starters.

Pro Tip: Are you a little rusty on how to start a fire? Use these 5 Best Techniques To Start A Fire Like An Expert.

2. How to Cook Outdoors

You can work up quite an appetite building a fire, and knowing how to cook over that fire is also an essential survival skill for kids. You don’t have to teach kids how to make an entire Thanksgiving feast outdoors, but having some basic skills for cooking while outdoors is important. You’ll want to emphasize the importance of cooking meats thoroughly and how to avoid cross-contamination.

You can start with simple meals like roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and work your way up to more complex foods like foil packet meals. Kids can quickly learn that just because they are camping doesn’t mean they have to eat poorly.

3. How to Find, Collect, and Filter Water

Not only will you need to eat, but you’ll need water. Under ideal circumstances, people typically can go only three days without water. Finding, collecting, and filtering water is essential for survival in the wilderness. Not all water is safe to drink, and you can put yourself in grave danger if you don’t filter it properly.

Knowing how to find, collect, and filter water can help extend your time in the wild. A basic understanding of properly and safely staying hydrated is vital for kids who will be out in the wild. You never know when it can be helpful.

Pro Tip: Check out these 5 Ways to Purify Water to help you and your tiny tots stay well hydrated!

Little boy making fire while learning survival skills on a camping trip
Fire-making skills are crucial to survival situations and should be taught to your little ones.

4. How to Read a Map or Follow a GPS

Knowing how to read a map or follow a GPS is an essential survival skill for kids. You don’t want to expel energy by walking in circles or backtracking. While a GPS can be useful, they often require power. If it’s your primary means of navigating, it will be useless once it loses charge. If that’s the case, you’ll want to know how to read a paper map.

You’ll find an excellent opportunity to teach kids how to use a compass for navigating. This skill can also help avoid getting lost or aimlessly wandering through the wilderness. Signing up for an orienteering challenge is a great way to grow and test skills in a safe and controlled environment.

5. How to Use a Pocket Knife

While a pocket knife can be a handy survival tool, it can be dangerous when not used properly. Knowing how to handle and use a knife can help avoid making a costly mistake that could cause an injury. Kids need to know how to use and handle pocket knives properly.

It’s also wise to teach kids how to sharpen a pocket knife. A dull blade can make it difficult to cut through objects, which can lead to mistakes while using too much force. You want kids to have sufficient respect for knives and understand that they’re tools, not toys.

Group of children navigating with a map
Learning survival skills takes time and practice, so starting young allows your children to really hone their talents.

6. How to Tie a Knot

Kids need to know how to tie knots, not just how to tie their shoes. There are many different instances where learning how to tie a knot is valuable, not just while camping or in survival situations. However, when it comes to survival, knowing how to tie a knot properly can be helpful while fishing, hunting, or securing resources to protect them from wildlife.

Not knowing how to tie knots can complicate many aspects of wilderness survival. You can practice tying knots just about anywhere by using a small piece of rope or a shoelace. Different circumstances require different knots, so knowing how to tie various knots can be tremendously helpful.

Pro Tip: New to knot tying? We put together an illustrated guide on Knot Tying for Beginners: 6 Essential Knots Everyone Should Know.

7. What to Do During Severe Weather

Severe weather can be unpredictable and change at a moment’s notice. Mother nature can be hazardous, and knowing how to respond when she doesn’t cooperate with your camping plans is essential.

Kids need survival skills to know where to go and when to go there. They need to know that you can’t wait to find shelter until the weather is poor. Some severe weather may mean packing up camp and heading home to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. 

Little boy learning to use a compass
Being able to read a map and a compass is critical for your kids to be able to get to safety if they ever get lost.

8. What to Do When Lost

Getting lost in the woods can be incredibly dangerous and scary. However, how they handle the situation can mean the difference between getting rescued and not. Teaching them to have a whistle or some other noise device attached to a backpack or keychain is a good idea. These devices are straightforward to use and can make a tremendous noise.

It also is an excellent opportunity to teach them that they should shelter in place when lost. Create a camp and avoid wandering in the wilderness, which can complicate things for rescuers. If they’re lost, this is where using a compass and having access to a paper map can come in handy.

9. What to Do During a Medical Emergency

They may grow up someday to be doctors or EMTs, but they haven’t gone to medical school yet. Kids need to know what to do when facing a medical emergency with no adult present to assist. Having a small first aid kit readily available in their camping backpack and knowing how to use the main supplies in it is a great start to this survival skill for kids.

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Many programs are available through the American Red Cross and other agencies if you do not feel qualified to teach a child about first aid. These courses can provide a fundamental level of training in handling medical emergencies. They can be beneficial and even potentially help save a life.

10. What to Do During a Wildlife Encounter

The wildlife you’ll encounter will significantly depend on where you spend your time in the wild. You likely won’t face an alligator or moose if you’re camping in Tennessee. However, there are four types of venomous snakes in the Volunteer State. Kids must know how to respond to the various potential wildlife encounters unique to their camping situation.

It’s important to remind kids that running away from some animals can worsen a wildlife encounter. It can trigger a natural predatory instinct in animals like bears, coyotes, and mountain lions. Remaining calm and slowly backing away may be difficult, but it is necessary to avoid worsening the situation.

Mom and dad hiking with son
Taking your kids out on camping adventures will create lifelong memories.

Is Camping Good for Kids’ Health?

Camping is a great way to increase outdoor activity for adventurers of all ages, especially kids. The great outdoors can provide endless possibilities for adventures that can help improve a child’s physical and mental health. Doing exciting and challenging things can help build their self-confidence and show them they can do hard things in life.

Even if you cannot go camping with kids as often as you like, it can be a great way to build priceless memories. When the kids are older, and out of the house, they’ll likely look back on the camping adventures and deeply cherish them. Make sure to snap pictures to reflect on the fun and not-so-fun times.

Teaching Your Kids Survival Skills

Teach These Survival Skills for Kids the Next Time You Go Camping

One of the great things about camping is that it’s something that you can get better at the more you’re able to do it. You don’t need to be perfect at these survival skills before your next trip, but pick one or two and practice them.

Use each camping trip as an opportunity to practice skills, so you’re better prepared. The more you can camp, the better prepared and more confident you’ll be during your adventures. You may just be raising the next Bear Grylls or another survival expert.

Which survival skill will you teach your kids first? Tell us in the comments!

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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