This past week, I was attempting to teach children the basics of tracking, cooking, and what is needed for basic survival. This was for a camp and the age rage was 6-12 years old. By the end of the week, the children, who were acclimated to city life, were able to identify the basic needs of survival; shelter, water, food, clothing, and I showed them how to make a fire.
The first day, I had asked them to help me make a fire, figuring that they would at least know how to find dry wood. In Slovakia, we have been receiving constant rain for about a month, so everything was soaked, but as we hiked through the forest, I spotted some dry pieces of wood. When I asked them to bring me dry wood, I got sopping wet twigs and leaves. I was using wetfire because it is the best item for me to use in a time constrained session in a wet forest, not to mention children get quite impatient! I was able to make a small fire with it.
Earlier that day, we were in a class room setting and I was able to show them a few different sets of animal tracks. After the fire was made and extinguished, I went on to tracking. I found a path that had deer tracks on it and after about 5 minutes of walking, we spotted a deer. I forgot to mention that children should be quiet if they would like to spot animals, because they started screaming in excitement and the deer fled out of fear.
I constantly quizzed them on what they need for survival and by the end of the week, they had it down. We culminated the small camp with a wood-fueled barbecue. I was able to get a much larger fire started because weather was nice and sunny and the wood around had dried out a little. The children enjoyed helping with the fire and were much more calm.
It saddens me to realize that the tradition and practice of survival has been forgotten. It is the oldest tradition that we have as humans and too many of us have relied upon modern objects and machines to do work that we ourselves once did. Further, children 50 years ago or so, knew bush craft, how to skin an animal, how to gut a fish, and the basic way to start a fire. Now, children are stuck at home in a 1,000 square foot wooden or stone box playing video games and watching mindless television. When disasters happen few are prepared because those who are, are made fun of, yet, they save the day when all else is failing and, for a brief moment, people realize that knowing just basic survival skills is a necessity in modern life.
I will teach my daughter at least basic skills and show her that there is more to life than the indoors. Of course, she is only two months old as I write this, but when she is old enough to learn these essential skills, I will teach her. It isn’t only convenient, it is necessary for our future survival!