Kids and Survival

Posing for pictures outside our house.

Posing for pictures outside our house.


If you are like us you probably have children, most likely of varying ages (ours are 24, 23, 9, 8, and 4), in your wish to become prepared don’t become so obsessed that your children are overlooked. Now I am not saying that you don’t care for your children, quite the opposite. You are preparing for that solar flare, hurricane, economic collapse, or zombies running around eating brains so you AND your kids survive, right? But are you PREPARING YOUR KIDS?

In today’s world most kids are far more dependent on things like cell phones, game systems, social media, etc. compared to most of us at their age. Now imagine that you haven’t included your kids in every aspect of your preparations and there is a massive solar flare that knocks us back to the 1800’s. Just what kind of reactions do you think you are going to get from your kids (especially teenagers) when they can no longer text their friends, play Titan Fall ®, or put that “Duck Face” selfie Facebook? If you were honest about it, it probably scared you just a bit, didn’t it?

Like you, your kids each handle stressful situations differently, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses, they each have different fears and aspirations, and they can each help you be more prepared in their own way. Including your children in your planning, training, and allowing them input into your plans and training, you are empowering your children and ensuring that they have the tools (knowledge and skills) they will need when TSHTF.

We include our kids in all of our preparations and training for everything from sheltering in place to bugging out and every scenario in between. We try to make training for our children as fun as possible while still teaching them the skills they will need if they were to be separated from us when TSHTF.

We do our best to keep the “Doom and Gloom” out of why we are training from our younger children for the most part, because they don’t need to stress out over all the things that can go wrong and cause the world to go belly up (that’s our job as their parents), they just need the skills and training that will allow them to survive when it does.

Now what should you teach your children? The answer to that question depends on a variety of factors:

  • Your kid’s age(s)
  • Your ability to teach
  • Your knowledge of preparedness and survival
  • Your skill sets
  • Your goals when it comes to your preparedness

Before you can teach your children anything you first have to honestly answer those questions. Just because you know all there is about survival and preparedness doesn’t mean you can teach it to others. I know more than one person who has forgotten more, than you and I combined will ever know about survival and are great people, yet they suck at teaching. If you fall into that group or have limited survival skills you should very seriously consider attending survival training classes that will allow you to bring your children (you’ll be surprised just how many “Survival School’s won’t allow children under 16 or 17 to attend). Nothing will turn your kids off faster than someone who can’t teach; they feel doesn’t know what they are talking about, or makes learning harder than it has to be.

Next to your skill sets and ability to teach, your kid’s age(s) is going to be the biggest factor in determining what skills you will want to teach them. As an example our 4-year-old daughter carries a small pack (a reinforced teddy bear backpack), with the tools she needs based on what we have taught her, so far, if she is separated from us while hiking or she wanders off while we are camping. If she is separated from us she knows:

  • To stop right where she is, the instant she realizes we aren’t right there with her
  • Look for a safe place to sit down within no more than 30-40 steps of where she is
  • Get out her survival blanket and whistle
  • Clean and bandage any small “Boo Boo’s” she may have with the first aid kit she carries.
  • Blow on her whistle 3 times as hard as she can, count to 10 and repeat  that 10 times, and then count to 10 ten times and start over again until we find her
  • If we don’t find her before dark she knows to get wrapped up in her survival blanket, get out her chem-light, pop it, and put it just above her head if she can and if not to lay it on the ground at her feet.
  • Eat the Mainstay bars and drink the retort water in her pack as she gets hungry and thirsty
  • Wait with her “Teddy Bear” until we find her

In a SHTF bug out scenario where you are trying to avoid unwanted attention having your kid blow a whistle might not be a great idea, you can train your child when it isn’t appropriate to blow on the whistle by explaining that when you are on a family camp out and they get separated blow the whistle. If you are in a bug out situation your child needs to know if they are separated to do everything BUT blow the whistle. We had a little bit of a rough time getting our daughter to know the difference until we made a “game” out of it.

When we are going camping we tell her straight up we’re going camping, when we are doing our bug out drills we tell her we are playing the “Bug Out Game” and the rules are that she can’t blow her whistle if she is separated but if she does everything else she gets a “prize” (usually hot cocoa and s’mores later that night). Now if she sees us packing up the old Family Truckster to head out into the woods she asks, “Are we going camping or playing the bug out game?”

Now before someone gets all kinds of butt hurt that we have allowed our 4-year-old daughter to be all alone in the woods, SHE HAS NEVER BEEN OUT OF OUR SIGHT while training her on these skills! Since teaching her those skills she has spent the night in the woods “alone” on several occasions, quite happily I might add, and always with daddy only a few feet away should she become scared or needed help. She is not afraid to be alone in the woods since she has been taught NOT TO BE AFRAID. Young kids naturally have no fear, they don’t know how to be afraid; they are taught fear by their parents, siblings, and peers, so unless you reinforce a fear response to being alone in the woods at night they won’t be.

Teaching your younger kids a few basics like I’ve outlined above enables them to survive should they get lost or wander off while hiking, camping or if TSHTF. It also gives you the peace of mind knowing that your little one will be ok if something like that were to happen.

If you have children that are 6 and older, you can teach them more “advanced” skills, depending on the child. You know your kids better than anyone, or at least you should, so you are the best judge of when they should start learning more “advanced” survival skills.

Our 8 and 9-year-old children know that if they were to become separated from us while hiking, camping, or if TSHTF and we were bugging out that they too should stop right where they are and sit down. Because they are older they have been taught a few more skills than our 4-year-old. The older kids know to:

  • Stop where they are.
  • Find a place that offers cover and concealment.
  • Clean and bandage any scrapes or wounds they may have with the supplies in their first aid kit.
  • Get out their radio (we each have GMRS/FRS radios “Locked” on a frequency, though only the adults have radios on at all times), turn it on, and call us on the radio and describe where they are.
  • Load their “Cricket” .22 rifle. (They have each had literally hundreds of hours of training with that rifle)
  • Build a small fire  with either the lighter, matches, or fire steel they carry (if it is needed to keep warm and the situation allows for one)
  • Improve their position to make it more comfortable and safe.
  • Use the food and water in their packs (Each of them carries 2 2400 calorie Mainstay Emergency Ration bars and a canteen)
  • If we haven’t found them before dark they know to get into their emergency bivy sack and wait.
  • They also each carry a whistle that they know to blow three (3) times, wait ten (10) seconds and repeat in sets of three (3), with a five (5) minute pause between sets. (If the situation on the ground will allow them to do so)

We are starting to teach them map reading and land navigation so, in the very near future, if they become separated they will be able to, either tell us where they are on the map so we can find them or navigate themselves back to our camp or Bug Out Site if need be.

I am sure more than one person is having a hard time with our kids having, let alone carrying, their own firearms or being taught to fend for themselves if the need arises. Let me put some of those fears to rest now.

  1. Our 8 and 9 year olds have received more firearms training (safety, use, marksmanship, cleaning, storage, etc.) in their short lives than 99% of police officers receive in a 30 year career and more than most line infantry soldiers receive in a four-year enlistment. I DO NOT recommend your kids carry a firearm without the same level of training! We train our kids in everything from hunting squirrels and rabbits, weapons safety, cleaning and care, to reaction drills, if you can’t provide that same level of training you will be doing more harm than good.
  2. By teaching our kids survival skills we have greatly reduced the stress and fear associated with being in a survival/SHTF situation for us as their parents, and most importantly for them.

Since we have over 40 acres in the Rocky Mountains, being outside is nothing to them, because even though we have every game system known to man, we have limited their use, the same goes for TV, so the end result is that they prefer to be outside.

We started teaching them very basic survival skills (like those outlined above for our 4-year-old) as soon as they were potty trained simply because we do live someplace that the weather can turn harsh in the blink of an eye. As they grew older, we added to those skills (as outlined above for our 8 and 9 year olds) so they became not only more self-sufficient they also become more and more of an asset to our family’s survival with each passing year.

Added benefits we have found:

  • Our kids have far more confidence than their peers.
  • Have far fewer discipline problems at home and at school than their peers.
  • Make better choices than their peers.
  • Are far more polite and respectful than a great number of their peers.
  • They have a “Can Do Attitude” in everything they do.
  • Are not afraid to try no things.
  • The school bullies leave them alone. (Even though our 8-year-old is scrawny as all hell!)
  • They respect the awesome power of Mother Nature; but they have no fear of her.

I know that not everyone is going to have 40 acres for their kids to run amuck on but that doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) train your kids! By simply starting to limit TV and game time you have freed up time to train your kids, by making it fun and rewarding for them, you won’t lose their interest to a TV show or video game. By including older children (6 and over) in your planning (and allowing them some input) they become active participants in your family’s survival and doing so greatly reduces the shock and stress to your children should you, and they, find yourselves in a survival/SHTF situation.

I look forward to seeing your comments and as always, Train to Survive!


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