If you’ve never ventured into the great outdoors, you may not realize some of the joy that comes from some simple processes. Food, heat, and shelter fulfill our basic needs and are pretty simple to provide in our neighborhoods. Step into the unknown, even well equipped and things change. Having some skills that provide those basics helps when things go wrong. Making the learning of those skills fun helps make sure they get remembered well.
Fire and cutting wood
There is no greater advancement man has ever made than the basic skill of starting and keeping a fire. The skills to start fires range from BIC lighters to rubbing sticks together, explain some of the varieties of ways. Have your kids help you gather dry kindling and debris to start your flame, then show them what dry wood looks like. If you are in a location where you can cut your own wood, teach your kids the basics of falling a tree with an ax. Pick a small, dead tree and show them the basics of the swing, how to make a vee, and how to direct a fall. Keep it small and safe. Help them to understand what outdoor fire safety is and how to put out fires and know they are out.
Build a shelter
You may have a tent or camper already, but let your kids try building their own shelter. Assess the safety of an overnight stay outside, then show them how to build a basic lean-to or even a basic hut. Use some of the branches from the earlier tree as roofing. Help them to learn about how to keep the water our and the warmth in overnight. Let them they stay out overnight in it! Maybe they will even hear a critter or two!
Cooking over a fire
Campfire cooking is a skill that will never fail you. You can eat like a king in the middle of nowhere if you learn even a few basics. Start the fun with Hot dogs and smores, then work your way towards them helping you build hobo dinners. (Foil pouches stuffed with meat and potatoes). Teach them how to pack lite where you can. If they learn the joys of freeze dried meals, ramen noodles, and other dehydrated meals, maybe they will learn to survive in the harsh environment of their college dorms.
Shoot a rifle
If you are more of the “You’ll shoot your eye out” type, this one is a little bit of a stretch. Start with a basic BB gun so they learn barrel and trigger safety. Learning to never point a weapon at anybody is a major plus on the life skills chart. Move up to a .22 caliber and under your supervision shoot at targets and cans. Starting at a range will give you a more controlled environment, but if you’ve got the room around you, a hundred yard distance with a good earth backstop and you’ll have fun for days. If you add a scope to the rifle, the shooting distance gets out a bit further and more accurately. Have fun with it.
Pooping in the woods
How could anything outdoors not include this? The ability to deal with this fact of life where ever you are is without fault. How would I rate it on the fun scale? All I know is that if you are not comfortable with it, it is one of the least fun experiences in the world, so might as well make it enjoyable. First off, never poop uphill from anybody. It does roll down hill. Second, dig good holes if you have to and bury it well. Third, always have plenty of paper. What you have is never enough. Find a good sight near enough but far enough away from others, look for something, a log or such, that can help you keep your balance. There is nothing worse than falling over. Oh, and did I mention baby wipes, because everyone deserves to be treated special once in their life.
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