Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Survival Connection. Children.

The Survival Connection. Children.

Our 18th century living history group is very family oriented. In our group anyone can learn anything, regardless of their persona, & women can wear the same clothing as the men wear. The same goes for children. There are many advantages for children to be a part of a living history group. They can see & learn first hand what a past lifestyle was actually like, something they will not learn from history books. They get to participate in activities with their parent/s, & that is something sadly lacking these days. They will learn survival skills through play, which means that they will have fun participating & not see it as a lesson or a chore. IF a survival situation should ever arise, these children will be prepared & will not be scared or panicked; it will just be another activity or historical trek.

This is very important. Children can be a drain on your concentration & energy, how many children when told to stop actually stop? How many children run when they are told to run, no questions asked? How many children will come when you say “come here quickly”? I was very aware of this problem when raising my own three sons, & I made a point of explaining to them at an early age just how important it was to obey such requests without question, but I also taught them to use their own brain in such situations.

Children can learn how to throw a tomahawk from about the age of 4 or 5 depending on their manner & intelligence. Children soak up knowledge from an early age, even if at times they do not appear to be paying attention. The trick is to make it interesting, make it fun. Parents can help this process by reading interesting & exciting books & stories to their children. Children also love teaching & showing things to their parents. Some kids are better at some skills than their parents, & it is great for them to share these skills & the knowledge.

Note the knife & the tomahawk helve by his left hand. My boys were throwing the tomahawk proficiently by the age of 5 years.
Children need to know that they count; it is no good going all out on getting all the right clothing & equipment for yourself, & “making do” for your kids. In the 18th century the children wore exactly the same style of clothing as the parents wore, & that is how it should be, unless the child has objections. If your child is taught properly how to use certain tools, then there is no reason why he or she should not be trusted to use those tools safely. Accidents will happen, you have made enough mistakes yourself to know that, but we learn from our mistakes.

Games we organise for children include: Constructing primitive shelters, making simple wooden tools & then showing us how they are used. Prisoner’s base is a popular one as is hide & seek. Blind man’s bluff & sneaking up on someone without them hearing you are games that teach them to listen & pay attention to what is going on about them. Foraging is turned into a game when they have to find certain items such as edible plants & plant tinders. This can be a competition to see who can find something first, or who can find the most. But it must be “healthy” competition & is best done in teams, two or three children to a team. Follow the leader is another good one if fashioned to suit our needs.

Do you find collecting sticks exciting? No probably not, but children do with the right sort of encouragement. This will teach them which wood is best for fire lighting & which is not. It will teach them how to make a smokeless fire. You may take this skill for granted, but you had to learn it somewhere.

Traditional Children’s Games:


Each of my sons had a tomahawk like this one when very young.

Shown in comparison with my own tomahawk.

My boys learnt to shoot with this .32 flintlock rifle when very young. It was made for my boys & is shorter than the average rifle, but they still needed a forked stick to rest it in at first because of the weight of the barrel.


Karl said...

Good post...

This is an often overlooked aspect of Wilderness living and Survival.

Native kids are taught to freeze or run when told, modern city kids on the other hand will have a running argument...

The trick to teaching younger kids anything from safety to finding water etc, is to turn it into a game, I find this works no matter what you teach them... so long as they get a reward of some kind they will learn anything you want to teach them....

The other thing that is important, be honest with them, don't hide things from them because just like an adult they know... better to be up front than "Protected" so to speak... in the wild we all need to trust each other, if you hide things thats when they will start questioning what you tell them...



Gorges Smythe said...

No time spent with your child is ever wasted.

Le Loup said...

Too true Gorges, and Karl, you are dead right, thank you. My kids were raised in the bush which is why they needed to be taught this way.