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There is more entertainment than ever before. The growth has been exponential. In a matter of 40 years, we went from having 3 channels on the television to thousands! That doesn’t include the internet and video games. So, needless to say, our kids are facing something very different. The allure to never leave the couch is strong. This can make prepping with kids very difficult.
As parents, we have serious choices to make. Do we take the path of the media teetotaler that doesn’t allow electronics or gaming of any kind? Do we manage that gaming time? Or do we just let them go hog wild?
No matter your stance on the distractions of life, it is still very hard to get a child to help you organize the preps or to help with inventory. They are just not that jazzed about how many cans of soup you have. There are many aspects of prepping that are absolutely boring for children. We have to be honest and understand that. Its hard for their young minds to rationalize all this work for something that might not happen. It’s also hard for them to understand that these things have to be done in order to live the lifestyle they have become accustomed to.
Hell, we can’t even get grown-ups to put away a little food and water!
All that said, there are some pretty awesome skills, tasks, and adventures that lend themselves to a life of preparedness and self-reliance. If you start your child down those paths, it will open up their lives. When in the right environment you will see a child’s eyes light up as they put the pieces together. The path of self-sufficiency is woven into us and our kids. It is clearly evident when you get them around a fire or on the top of a mountain.
So let’s talk about how to get your child off the couch and into the prepping world!
What could be more exciting than a real-life treasure hunt?
For the uninitiated, geocaching is a process of using GPS to seek out caches through the geocache app. These caches vary in size and contain a small notepad. The caches are hidden well on purpose to make geocaching a bit of a challenge. When you find the cache you then sign the notepad to let the legion of other geocachers know that you have been to that location.
No matter where you are there are geocaches nearby. You will need the app to find them and if you spend $30 a year you will be treated to even more caches. That might sound like a lot but once you start doing this your kids will be hooked and they will want to go out and find these things.
There is an entire world of geocaching and they even have pieces called trackables that use the network of geocachers to take a special item from one location to another. As a geocacher finds the item they hide it in another location closer to the final destination. The goal is to eventually have that item return to its original starting place.
Its tons of fun and an excuse to get outside. It also explains the basics of hiding a preparedness cache of your own!
Depending on how you handle camping, it can essentially be bugout practice. I would recommend doing as much as you can to get out on several camping trips a year. Take advantage of your time out in the woods and explore things like:
- Fire Starting Methods
- Cooking Over Fire
- Tree Identification
- Setting up a Basecamp
- Identifying Wildlife
- Playing with Snares
- Map Navigation
- Using Survival Tools
Kids love to camp and its one of those things that become as good as you make it. If you really push your limits and come up with some fun stuff to do, the kids will love it. They will look forward to the next trip and you will teach them so much.
Your motivation for hiking can vary. It’s not really necessary that you hike to reach a mountaintop. Still, that is pretty fun for kids, too. Hiking can be done with other goals in mind. You could go see a water feature. What’s important is that you have an agreed upon goal for the hike. That is what kids seem to really enjoy.
“We are going to hike to the top of this mountain and take some pictures.”
“We are going to hike down to this waterfall.”
“We are going to hike to this fishing spot and eat lunch by the stream.”
I am a fan of hiking in adverse conditions with my kids. I like to go out in the cold. We bundle up and brave the cold of the Appalachians. It helps them understand the power of the cold, the importance of layering and good boots. It’s much more of an accomplishment and they’re still learning about prepping.
Be sure they have their own bag and gear. This part is so important. Again, they want to do what you do. Don’t make it 25lbs but throw some things inside. I always give my son a survival whistle and some food to carry. He often is the person responsible for food. He loves having that job and he likes carrying the camping stove.
The nasty stat about video games is that the average “gamer” is 31 years old! I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t pay my father to sit down and play Mario with me.
We talk about kids being wrapped up in electronics, but we rarely turn the magnifying glass on ourselves. Our kids look to us for guidance all the time. They do it in silence and they find guidance in the things that we do. If every time they wake up from a nap they find Dad or Mom playing video games, well, that’s what they will want to do.
There are some great shows out there that really capture survival and preparedness. You can watch them on demand on YouTube.
- Last Line of Defense
- Field Craft Survival
- Primitive Technology
- Paul Kirtley
Watch these guys and many more and you will find that your children suddenly have an interest in the things they are seeing. It just happens naturally. My father watched fishing in the morning. 32 years later I am still fishing like crazy. It roots deep.
Read the Right Books
The books that you have laying all over the house can affect your children, as well. Do you read? This goes back to that thing about kids doing what their parents do. If they see you reading they will start to think that reading is what humans do. They, too, will start reading. It is magic.
Some great books are
- Bushcraft 101
- Bushcraft Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Surviva
- The Survival Medicine Handbook
- The SAS Survival Guide
They do what you do. Rarely do they do what you say.
One of the most straightforward methods for getting children involved in prepping is to build a kit with them. It can be a bugout bag made just for them or it can be a home survival kit. Make this an adventure and ask them questions about what they think should be included.
- Make a list
- Do some shopping
- Add some toys or games to the kit
- Put it all together
- Make a big deal about it!
The next time a big storm comes or a snowstorm, bring out the kit. Even if you don’t need the kit, bring it out and look it over. Talk about the items and why they are so important. Play the game or toy that’s inside or allow them to.
Hopefully, by this point, you feel emboldened to try prepping with your kids. Though I understand if you feel defeated. It might seem like a tall order but all you have to do is choose one thing. In fact, I would highly recommend choosing one thing and doing it very well. That will have a bigger impact on your children and that is the word you are looking for in all of this. IMPACT.
There is one more tip that I think should be mentioned in this conclusion. It’s not a method but its just as important. Have fun. Remember that it should all be about fun. If you take the success or failure of these things too seriously a few things will happen.
- You will get too hung up on things going right
- Your kids will feel that neurotic energy
- Things won’t go well.
If you get the kids out under the stars and they don’t wanna hear your speech on water filters, so what? If you go out for your first geocache and can’t find it, who cares? Just keep hammering. Laugh about it. Enjoy the time with your kids. You have the rest of your life to worry about prepping and disaster.
When kids realize that you are there to have fun the whole feel changes. Don’t rush it, don’t stress it just get out there and have a good time. Before long, your whole year will be dominated by plans to go camping, geocaching and maybe even a child who wants to join scouts. And if you really want to get the whole family involved, you might want to start prepping with your pets.
Now go get em off that couch and start having some real fun!
James Walton is the host of the I AM Liberty Show (www.iamlibertyshow.com) a podcast about 21st-century freedom. He is a freelance writer in the prepping and survival niche and likes to keep a healthy balance between prepping and enjoying life.