Seven Priorities For Wilderness Survival Every Adventurous Kid Should Know

Teach your children the seven priorities of survival.
Teach your children the seven priorities of survival.

If you are the parent of a boy scout, you are probably familiar with the seven priorities for wilderness survival.  The Boys Scouts of America requires that scouts attempting to earn their Wilderness Survival Merit Badge know and understand these priorities.  The priorities are easy to understand, are built on common sense, and can easily be taught to young people whether they are boy scouts or not.  Listed in order of importance, these priorities are:  keep a positive mental attitude, first aid, shelter, fire, signaling, water & food.

Keep a Positive Mental Attitude:  If they panic and lose control, they are likely to make the situation worse.  The best thing to do is to adopt the S.T.O.P. rule.  Stop, think, observe, plan.  Explain this concept to your children as it is a good one and can be used during any crisis situation.

First aid:  If anyone in the group is critically injured, first aid becomes the next priority.  Teaching children basic first aid is a crucial wilderness survival skill.  Topics to cover would be minor health issues including insect bites, blisters, dehydration, hypothermia, cuts, scrapes, and bruises.  You can also cover larger health problems such as broken bones and snake bites.  The Red Cross is an excellent resource for first aid training.  JM Cremp’s also sells a waterproof Pocket Guide to First Aid that is an excellent addition to any backpack.

Shelter:  The third priority is to find or create shelter.  The ability to protect yourself from the elements is crucial in any survival situation regardless of the weather.  The next time you are out with your children, ask them how they would find or build shelter.  What materials would they use?  How would they build it?  You can learn more about finding shelter in the book Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters.

Fire:  The ability to build a fire in a survival situation is critical.  Fire provides warmth, can cook food, purify water, can be used as a signal device, and will most definitely boost morale.   Show your kids how to build a proper fire in the woods and you will teach them a skill that will last a lifetime.

Signaling:  The most effective tools for signaling are a signal whistle and a small mirror.  Teach them that three blows on the whistle means “help”.  The mirror can be used to signal aircraft, helicopters, or people far away.

Water:  A human being can survive approximately three days without water. Teach your children how to find a clean water source, how to purify water, and how to draw moisture from the ground.  The book, Essential Survival Skills, is an excellent resource for all of the topics discussed here including how to procure safe drinking water.

Food:  People can go several weeks without food in survival conditions.  Knowing what plants to eat in the wilderness requires some more extensive training.  The book, The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants is an excellent learning resource.  Also, if you are a family that hunts and fishes, use that hunting and fishing time to discuss procuring food in a survival situation.

As always, JM Cremp’s is an excellent resource for survival gear for kids and adults of all ages.

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Wilderness Survival Skills Training – How to Use a Compass

If you love the outdoors and love to spend time exploring the woods, then it is wise to learn some basic wilderness survival skills.  No one expects to ever be in a survival situation, but knowing how to navigate with a compass can be a real lifesaver.  A basic compass (even when used without a map) can help to guide you in the right direction and bring you home safely.

Learning to properly use a compass is easy, but as with most things, practice makes perfect.  The next time you are out hunting, hiking, or playing in the woods with friends, bring a compass and practice the navigation techniques below.  To make it as easy as possible, begin your practice in an area you are already familiar with.  Try navigating both with and without a map so you can learn both techniques.  Familiarize yourself with the parts of your compass before you head out so the directions below make sense to you. Pretty soon, you’ll be a navigational genius!

Find Your Way Without a Map

1. Select a landmark along the route you want to travel. Hold the compass level and point the Direction of Travel Arrow at the landmark.

2. Find your heading to the landmark by turning the compass dial until the “N” aligns with the red end of the Needle. Read your heading in degrees at the Index Line.

3. Keep the Needle aligned with the “N”; look up; sight on your landmark and walk to it. Repeat this procedure until you reach your destination.

Find Your Way With a Map

STEP 1.  Place your compass on the area map with the Base Plate edge connecting where you are with where you want to go.
STEP 1. Place your compass on the area map with the Base Plate edge connecting where you are with where you want to go.
2. Set the compass heading by turning the compass Dial until the “N” on your compass aligns with Magnetic North on the map.
2. Set the compass heading by turning the compass Dial until the “N” on your compass aligns with Magnetic North on the map.
3. Remove the compass from the map and hold it level in front of you with the Direction of Travel Arrow pointing straight ahead. Turn your body until the red end of the Needle is directly over the Orienting Arrow, pointing to the “N” on the dial.
3. Remove the compass from the map and hold it level in front of you with the Direction of Travel Arrow pointing straight ahead. Turn your body until the red end of the Needle is directly over the Orienting Arrow, pointing to the “N” on the dial.

That’s it! The Direction of Travel Arrow now points precisely to your destination. Look up, sight on a landmark and walk to it. Repeat this procedure until you reach your destination.

The techniques and instructions listed above are included FREE with the purchase of any Silva compass.  JM Cremps carries several different compass models, but one of our favorites is the Silva Guide 426 Model Compass.  It is durable, accurate, and is a proven favorite amongst outdoorsmen, geologists, and foresters.  It is also the perfect addition to the list of items in our original Survival Basics for your Survival Bag.

To see these techniques demonstrated and explained, check out this video: