A few years ago, my son asked me to teach a Concealed Pistol Class to him and his friends, to meet state requirements. They were all living in a rough part of town while going to college, so I agreed. While we were at the range portion, one of the young men was using a handgun he wasn’t familiar with and cut his hand. My son sprang into action, pulling a full first aid kit out of his range bag and bandaging the minor cut right away.
While minor, that incident was the fruit of growing up with a preparedness mindset and us spending countless hours on preparedness activities his entire life. It didn’t just happen.
Many in the preparedness lifestyle choose to just do it all themselves, rather than involving their children in the process. When you involve the child, even from a young age, in preparedness activities, it sets them up for life. It’s even in the Ultimate Tactical Handbook:
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
This is a responsibility you can’t outsource. Today, the Boy Scouts don’t do much outdoor skills training. When my son was in it, while they went camping, they used full sized gas grills and got food from a central dining facility every day. Ashamed of what had happened to the organization, the Scoutmaster and I hatched a plan: “When Mr Coleman and Mr Dolio Were Scouts Weekend”. The boys went camping with no electronics, no grills; nothing but tents, coolers, and a grate for over the fire. After a night of grumbling on Friday, the boys came around in the morning, cooking over an open fire, learning land navigation, and then going on a long hike. When the weekend ended, the boys admitted it had been the best Scouting weekend ever, because they actually scouted.
For the record, when Lt Gen Sir Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts, it was meant to teach outdoor and para-military skills to boys to prepare them for military service. That’s why the motto was Be Prepared. I haven’t checked, but the new motto seems to be “Be Fabulous!”.
Back to the topic at hand, even the Bible says you can’t outsource the training of your children:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children;
instead, bring them up in the training
and instruction of the Lord.
You accomplish this by involving them in learning activities and planning sessions to get them to buy in and enjoy it.
Kids now spend most of their time indoors. When most of us were younger, we spent most of our lives outdoors. We played tag, hide and seek, built forts, and went exploring. These things trained us, whether we knew it or not, for preparedness.
Find activities that you can do with your kids that develop preparedness. Go camping and hiking as starters. Teach them about edible plants and dangerous plants. Go orienteering (using a map and compass). I used to give the kids a GPS pre-programmed with a course and a prize hidden at the end, to teach them to follow a route. Geo-caching is another fun activity.
Have each child build their own bag. Teach them what needs to go in it (clothing, first aid, flashlight, etc.) and give them the responsibility to keep it maintained. Each season, go through it with them and make seasonal changes.
Take a first aid course with your children. This is vital not just for preparedness, but also for home safety. If you fall off a ladder and only a child is home with you, you need them to be able to know what to do. Also, in a WROL situation, kids can be used in the medical section, rather than armed roles.
Age is also a reason that you should teach children how to prepare shelters. Imagine a family of two adults and two children moving cross-country in a WROL situation. At the end of the day, the kids can build a shelter or set up tents, while the adults maintain security.
For the same reason, children should be taught camouflage and fieldcraft from an early age. In the event of a violent encounter while the group is moving, the kids can be trained to also seek covered and concealed positions to hide in while the adults handle the threat. The kids should be trained to remain in place until the parents come back to them.
Another fun skill to learn with the kids is radio skills. Kids love to use radios. Rather than just letting them play with them, teach them to properly use them. Get them their own radios with limited features to teach responsibility. Learning how to build field-expedient antennas is fun and interesting. Again, your radio section is a great spot for kids to work in in a preparedness group, when they are too young to carry arms.
Trapping and fishing are also fun activities that kids can be involved in from a young age that build lifelong skills that will enable them to be self-sufficient. My fondest memories are of fishing with my dad and grandfather. I’ve been able to perfectly throw a cast net since I was 8 years old.
Teach your kids to garden. It’s a skill we are losing in America at an alarming rate, especially as we enter a period of food scarcity. When I grew up, my sister and I helped tend our “garden” at the cabin, which is best described as more of a small farm. As my kids grew up, they tended it too. Last week, while having dinner, my son and I discussed growing food and he told me he already was putting in several rows in his backyard, and that he’d love to put a few more rows in up at the cabin and spend the summer tending them. Bonus: Food Security and more Father-Son time!
Not only do these skills help train your kids to be more self-sufficient, but they also give you lifelong activities to do with your children. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Andrew and I have been hunting together since he was 12, as have me and my father.
Another area which modern kids are lacking is physical fitness. Face it, a by-product of our digital and electronic lifestyle is childhood obesity. Find activities that get the kids off the couch with you. A great way to do this is martial arts. You can’t join your kid’s baseball team, soccer team, or football team, but you CAN do martial arts together. Our entire family did it together. Martials arts gives you cardio, strength, self-defense skills, awareness skills, and self-confidence. It’s an absolute must in preparedness.
There is a book called “Playful Preparedness” which lists games and activities that you can do with your children to develop preparedness skills and attitudes. I highly recommend it. Below is an Amazon link (I may make a small commission off affiliate links, which are used to support the site).
I hope this article gives you a few ideas in which you can develop preparedness plans and skills with your children, to involve them in the process. It’s important though, that regular hiking with their packs be an on-going process, just like it should be for you, to get them used to moving on foot carrying a load.
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4 thoughts on “Preparing with Kids”
Great topic. I just recently ordered the 1960 series Boy Scout Manual. It’s the one I had as a scout. I would spend hours and hours reading it as a kid. I can say that the Boy Scouts started me on the path to “Being Prepared.” I earned the rank of Eagle Scout. One regret I have is not pushing my boys into scouting, They just weren’t interested. They’re in there late 30’s now so I think the Boy Scouts wouldn’t have been corrupted when they were kids. They are both preparedness minded so I guess their mother and I influenced them.
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Great article and thank you very much. I’ll just share that the Boy Scouts are not a lost cause at all. There are some problems yes but there is still much more good than bad. I’m an adult volunteer in an all-girls Cub Scout pack. We’ve made 1st aid kits, went on a day hike where we talked about plants and animals, learned the Six Essentials (test: do you know what they are?), following a trail, what to do if separated, etc. Campout is coming up and we will do all sorts of outdoors stuff: knots, tents, campsite selection, campsite prep, weather, layering, etc. BSA is still overtly religious. So there’s plenty there to remain optimistic about. The Girl Scouts on the other hand are in trouble. I was also a Girl Scout volunteer for a long time and unfortunately they are in serious decline.
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Great article Joe! Getting kids involved at an early age is the key to creating strong, self-reliant men (which we need more of!).
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Absolutely. A couple of guys I know are starting a “Practical Manhood” class at a local church for just that purpose.