We have begun working our way through our farmschool experience for the spring/summer. Since we plan to do quite a bit of camping and hiking this summer we chose to begin with our wilderness survival class.
We began by loading up a sample survival kit. I intentionally kept our sample survival kit very limited and sparse.
1 water bottle without filtration kit
A small snack of fruit
Survival whistle with compass, flint, signal mirror, and area for keeping matches dry
First aid kit
I wanted our survival kit to be light on materials so that the girls would notice what they needed to add to their own kits.
Before we headed into the woods I also printed out the 7 priorities of wilderness survival, the Boy Scout Hiking Merit badge booklet, a poison plant brochure, and pictures of the common predators/dangerous animals in our area.
I also told a friend to bring over her girls to join us. My friend needed a break and we hardly even notice a few extra kids at this point!
After we had all of our items gathered up we headed out into the woods!
We began by discussing the most important thing to remember when lost in the woods.
STAY CALM AND STAY PUT!
I had only managed to get a few sentences into this priority when my friends little girl started screaming and running around calling for help. She apparently was not a fan of the tick she found crawling on her leg. Talk about an amusing teachable moment!
Some of the other items we covered included building a shelter without tools or supplies. The kids found this to be a very trying experience. I think I have proven my point that a small tarp, an emergency blanket, and some emergency rope would be a great addition to their personal survival packs.
We also discussed how to use all of the items in the first aid kit. This included learning to diagnose and prevent many different hiking specific injuries. I do not feel they learned enough to earn a first aid badge I do however feel they understand how to handle bee stings, sprains, small cuts, etc. I wanted the kids to understand that even a small injury could be deadly when lost in the wilderness. It is extremely important to take care of your body while in the woods!
Of course a wilderness survival class would not be complete without building a stretcher from sticks found in the woods and a roll of duck tape! It took us a few tries to get it right but it was definitely a fun experience! I think they have all decided that a roll of duck tape would also be a great addition to their packs!
Of course we also discussed how to behave around wild animals (leave them alone!) and what dangerous plants are present in our area. I made sure to make very clear that we do NOT forage for foods to eat while lost in the woods. Our bodies can survive for several days without food, but eating a poisonous plant would be a very detrimental.
We then covered drinking water safety.
Rainwater = yes
Stream water= No
We discussed water filtration kits that can be easily carried in our packs as well as options to boil the water from streams if we have access to a fire and metal containers. A water filtration and drinking containers are a must for our packs!
While we were on the topic of fires we worked on learning fire safety. The children learned how to pick a good location, clear an area and prepare it for a fire, gather rocks for a stone circle, how to lay a fire using dry leaves and small twigs in a teepee design, and how to put out a fire when we were through. We then discussed the three different ways to start a fire: Matches, lighter, and flint. We did not actually start a fire on the day of our training due to high winds. We definitely did not want to start a forest fire!
Lastly we discussed how to signal for help while lost. We learned that calling for help is not the most effective way of signaling for help.
When search crews are searching for a missing person they are calling out the persons name. That makes it extremely difficult for them to hear the lost person calling back. We learned 4 ways that were more effective for signaling rescue personnel. These included a whistle, signaling mirror, flash light, and smoke from a fire (if applicable).
Overall we spent 4 hours working on our wilderness survival class. We learned a great deal and found several things we wanted to add to our personal survival kits. We are all excited to start working on our hiking skills!