Surviving the Wild: Why & How Schools Should Teach Essential Survival Skills

As our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, we often forget that there may come a time when we won’t have access to modern conveniences such as the internet, electricity, and even basic necessities like food and water. In situations like natural disasters, power outages, or getting lost in the wilderness, these skills become critical for survival.

That’s why it’s essential to teach survival skills in schools. Teaching survival skills is not only important for practical reasons but also for fostering self-reliance and confidence in young people.

It helps them develop an attitude of resilience and adaptability that can benefit them throughout their lives. Plus, learning these skills can be a fun and exciting way to engage students who may not be interested in traditional academic subjects.

With everything above in mind, this article will provide an overview of the basic survival skills that should be taught in schools.

It will cover topics such as starting a fire without matches or a lighter, finding and purifying water sources, building a shelter using natural resources, reading maps and compasses for navigation, identifying edible plants and animals as well as emergency first aid techniques like CPR.

We will also discuss outdoor ethics including Leave No Trace principles and conservation practices.

Basic Survival Skills

How to Start a Fire Without Matches or Lighter

Starting a fire in the wilderness is an essential skill for survival. It provides warmth and can be used to cook food, purify water, and signal for help.

Matches and lighters are great tools, but they may not always be available or dependable. Here are three methods to start a fire without matches or a lighter:

  • Friction-based methods

This method involves rubbing two sticks together to create heat until they start smoking and ignite into flames. The most common friction-based method is the bow drill technique.

To do this method, you will need a straight stick for the bow, another stick (spindle) that is pointed at one end, a flat board (fireboard), and a handhold. Place the spindle on top of the fireboard with your handhold above it and wrap the bowstring around it.

Place the spindle in motion by moving back and forth on the bow while applying downward pressure on top of it with your handhold. Continue rubbing until you achieve an ember that you can transfer onto some kindling material like dry leaves or twigs.

  • Flint & steel

This method uses sparks generated from striking steel against flint rock to ignite tinder material. To use this technique effectively, scrape your flint rock against your sharp steel edge at an angle of about 45 degrees while holding both over some kindling material.

  • Solar power

You can also focus sunlight onto kindling using any reflective surface; this could be magnifying lenses from binoculars or even eyeglasses — anything that can reflect light rays onto one point. This process needs precision as it requires focusing light directly onto small combustible materials such as dry leaves or barks so they’ll ignite.

Finding and Purifying Water Sources

Water is essential for survival, but finding a reliable source of clean water in the wilderness can be difficult. It’s important to know how to identify and purify water sources to avoid dehydration or illness from drinking contaminated water.

Here are some tips for finding and purifying water sources:

  • Look for flowing water

Moving water is usually cleaner than stagnant water. Look for streams, rivers, or any natural running body of fresh water.

  • Collect Rainwater

You can place any container out into the rain; this will collect some rainwater that you can use for drinking purposes after purification.

  • Purify the water

Once you have located a source of fresh-looking but potentially unsafe or unclean source of drinking water; purify it by boiling it, using chemical tablets (iodine or chlorine), or filtration devices like Lifestraws or portable microfilters such as Sawyer etc.

Boiling your drinking water kills off most bacteria and viruses that may have entered your freshwater source.

Building a Shelter Using Natural Resources

A shelter will keep you dry, warm, and protected from the elements when camping out in the wilderness. There are many types of shelters you can build depending on your location, environment, resources available, and time constraints.

Here are three types of shelters that you can build using natural resources:

  • A debris shelter

This type of shelter is made by using branches/limbs as support beams with small twigs/leaves piled on top until it creates an insulated layer above you (bedding). This kind of shelter holds up pretty well against cold weather conditions as long as it’s done right.

  • Lean-to shelter

A lean-to shelter is built using two stakes placed vertically in the ground, and then a horizontal branch is laid across them. Next, smaller branches can be placed against the horizontal branch to create a “lean-to” structure.

Cover it with leaves, grasses, or even a tarp if you have one available.

  • Tarp shelter

If you have an emergency blanket or tarp with you in your survival kit, this can be used to create an efficient shelter.

Drape it over a cord between two trees for support and secure it down by tying a rope or some other flexible material to stick edges on the ground. The most important thing while building any of these shelters is that they should protect you from rain (and snowfall as well), hold up against strong winds and help retain warmth.

Navigation Skills

Lost in the Wilderness: A Terrifying Thought

Knowing how to navigate is critical for survival in the wilderness. When you’re lost, it’s easy to become disoriented and wander in circles.

Without a sense of direction, you may not be able to find civilization or a source of food and water. That’s why teaching navigation skills in school is essential.

Reading Maps and Compasses

Topographic maps provide a wealth of information about the terrain, such as elevation and contour lines. They also show roads, trails, bodies of water, and points of interest such as campgrounds or ranger stations.

However, they can be overwhelming if you don’t know how to read them. A compass is another critical tool for navigation.

It allows you to orient yourself and determine your direction of travel using magnetic north. Students should learn how to use both maps and compasses together to plot a course toward their destination.

Using Landmarks to Navigate

In addition to using maps and compasses, students should have the ability to find their way around by observing natural features such as mountains or rivers.

For example, if you know that a river flows north-south on your right-hand side while hiking southbound on a trail parallel with it for an extended period with no intersections; then you can determine where you are if you come across an intersection that crosses the river.

Identifying edible plants and animals is another important aspect of navigation because it helps students understand where they are in relation to civilization by knowing what grows in that area naturally. They could also stumble upon some significant food sources while out wandering around lost!

Emergency First Aid

When learning survival skills, it’s important to also learn basic first aid techniques. You never know when accidents or injuries can happen, especially in the wild. It’s important to be prepared and have the knowledge and skills to handle emergency situations.

CPR and Basic First Aid Techniques

CPR is one of the most important first-aid techniques that everyone should learn. In school, students can learn how to perform CPR on a mannequin or practice chest compressions.

Basic first aid techniques like treating cuts, scrapes, and burns are also essential skills that can be learned in school. Students can practice wrapping bandages around an arm or leg or applying pressure to stop bleeding.

Treating Injuries in the Wilderness

In the wilderness, injuries require a different approach than those in a typical setting. Learning how to clean wounds properly, disinfect them with natural resources like honey or alcohol-based tinctures made from plants, and use natural materials for bandages can be lifesaving.

Students can also learn how to create makeshift splints using tree branches or other natural materials found around them.

Recognizing and Treating Common Illnesses

In addition to learning basic first aid techniques for injuries, students should also learn how to recognize and treat common illnesses that may occur when out camping or hiking. These include heat exhaustion, dehydration, hypothermia, and altitude sickness.

The symptoms of these illnesses may vary depending on the individual’s age and health conditions.

Teaching emergency first aid skills in school along with survival skills such as finding food sources or building shelters outdoors will give students a well-rounded education that will prepare them for any situation they may encounter in the future.

Outdoor Ethics

Imagine you’re out on a camping trip, surrounded by nature’s beauty. Suddenly, you come across discarded trash that interrupts the peaceful scenery.

This is where outdoor ethics come into play. Teaching students to respect and care for the environment should be a crucial part of survival skills education.

Leave No Trace principles

The Leave No Trace principles serve as guidelines for outdoor enthusiasts to minimize their impact on the environment while enjoying nature. These principles include packing out all trash, using established campsites, respecting wildlife, and staying on designated trails.

It’s important to teach students these principles so they may practice them throughout their lives and preserve our wilderness areas.

Respect for nature and wildlife

In this section of survival skill education, students must learn about showing respect to nature and its inhabitants. They must understand that nature isn’t something to conquer; it’s something to cherish and protect.

Teaching them about respecting wildlife is equally important because one must be aware that animals have their natural habitats that we shouldn’t disturb or destroy.

Importance of conservation

Teaching conservation practices helps inculcate responsibility towards the environment among school children. Conservation means preserving resources so future generations can utilize them too.

Whether it’s turning off lights or avoiding single-use plastics, every little effort counts in protecting our planet’s resources. Incorporating outdoor ethics into survival skill education helps develop responsible citizens who appreciate their surroundings and take good care of them too!

Advanced Survival Techniques

Trapping small game for food

You never know when you might be stranded in the wilderness and need to find food. That’s why it’s important to learn how to trap small game. One of the simplest methods is creating a snare trap.

This involves tying a noose with a strong cord and placing it in an area where animals are likely to pass through. When an animal walks into the noose, it tightens around its neck, trapping it.

Another method is setting leg-hold traps. These involve placing a baited trap on the ground that will snap shut when an animal steps on it, trapping its leg.

It’s important to check these traps regularly so that you can release any non-target animals. Learning how to trap small game for food is not only useful in survival situations but also teaches students about ethical hunting practices and respecting animal life.

Building a raft or boat for water travel

In some survival situations, water travel may be necessary. That’s when knowing how to build a raft or boat comes in handy. Rafts can be made out of logs or branches tied together with rope or vines.

Boats can also be built using natural resources like tree bark and resin, which can be melted down and used as glue. It’s important to note that building rafts or boats requires careful planning and construction.

Students should learn about buoyancy, weight distribution, and safety precautions before attempting to build their own watercraft. Knowing how to build rafts or boats not only prepares students for survival situations but also encourages creativity and problem-solving skills.

Creating signals for rescue

In emergency situations, getting rescued quickly is crucial. That’s why learning how to create signals for rescue is important.

These signals could include building signal fires using green branches or brightly colored materials, laying out rocks in a specific pattern, or using mirrors to reflect sunlight. Students should also learn how to use signaling devices like whistles, flares, and bright-colored clothing.

It’s important to note that signaling for rescue should be done in a safe and controlled manner to avoid false alarms. Learning how to create signals for rescue not only prepares students for survival situations but also teaches them about effective communication and problem-solving skills.

Related: Equipping The Youth With Outdoor Survival Skills

Final Thoughts

Teaching survival skills in school is crucial for students to learn how to adapt and thrive in the unpredictable wilderness. Survival skills not only provide practical knowledge for life-or-death situations but also develop important character traits such as leadership, resourcefulness, and problem-solving abilities.

By learning these skills early on, students will be better prepared for any challenges they may face throughout their future journeys. Moreover, it is important to remember that survival skills are not just limited to wilderness scenarios.

The basic principles taught in this article can be translated into everyday life situations such as natural disasters or unforeseen circumstances. In essence, the benefits of teaching survival skills transcend beyond just wilderness survival and can help foster a sense of independence and self-reliance.

Encouragement to practice these skills outside of school

The best way for students to internalize and perfect their survival skillset is through ample practice outside the classroom. Encourage your students to spend time outdoors with friends or family members such as camping trips or nature walks.

Not only will they have an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned from class, but it’s also a great way to build relationships and create lasting memories. Furthermore, there are many resources available online that offer additional information on outdoor living and survival techniques.

By utilizing the techniques outlined in this article and encouraging your students’ curiosity about the world around them, you’ll equip them with valuable knowledge that will benefit them for years to come.

So get outside, explore, and have fun – there’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered!

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