Most of us leave out kids out of our survival planning. I don’t mean that we’re planning on abandoning them, but simply that we don’t count on them being any help in a survival situation. That’s counterproductive. Granted, a baby can’t do anything to help, but even small children can be taught tasks that will help the family survive as a team.
If we look at the settlement of the Old West, we see that a lot of families moved west together. Yes, there were men who went alone, especially in the first wave. But the farmers and townspeople who followed later were pretty much all family men. They brought their wives and kiddies along.
That might seem horrendous to some people, but it would be better than leaving them behind for years, while dad tried to get a farm going. In the west, a married couple was a team, working together to survive. Once the kids became big enough to tie their own shoes, they were given chores to do, making them part of the team as well.
Today, we don’t expect much from our kids, but our ancestors did. The school year that we all know was based on that. School was out in the summertime, when there was lots of need for those kids to be working on the farm. Once the harvest was in, they were allowed to go back to school, as there wasn’t as much need for their help at home.
Our kids are able to do much more than we expect them to. The key is our expectations. When our expectations rise, they rise to meet them. It might take them some time to meet the new expectations, but they will. All we have to do is give them enough time to get there.
So, what sorts of things can our kids do as part of our survival team? Obviously, the task has to be appropriate to the child’s age. As they grow, their abilities grow as well; but they can start doing some tasks as young as five years old.
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Taking Care of Animals
This is a natural for children and a great learning opportunity for them. Most families have their children feed and walk their dog. If you have other animals as part of your survival plan, such as chickens, then by all means put the children to work taking care of them. They can feed and water the chickens; let them in and out of their coop in the morning and evening and gather eggs, even from a fairly young age.
Tip: There are many Educational Opportunities of Animal Husbandry.
Watering and weeding gardens are never-ending tasks, but important ones, if you want to be able to eat from your vegetable garden. It’s much easier for children to bend over and pull weeds than it is for adults to. This will require them learning to identify the plants in your garden, which prepares them for more complex gardening tasks. As they grow older, they can help with planting and fertilizing as well.
Serving as Lookouts
The family on the frontier fought as a family. Dad usually did the shooting, while mom reloaded his guns. The kids were sent up to the loft as lookouts, where they could often see the Indians hiding and tell if they were trying to sneak around the back side of the house. As they grew older, the children would be taught how to shoot, so that they could help defend the family.
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Fetch things for Parents
If a child is old enough to walk and talk, they are old enough to fetch things that mom and dad need. You see this in Mexico all the time, as mothers send their children to the corner store to pick things up for them. Yours might not be running to the corner store, but running into the house to get tools you need or out to the yard to check and see if the laundry is dry on the line.
Dust and Clean
Everyone starts teaching their children how to pick up their own toys when they are little. This can easily lead to teaching them simple cleaning tasks and having them help mom out with the housework. There’s nothing wrong with children helping to clean’ after all, they do more than their fair share of making it dirty in the first place.
Cut the Grass
Outdoor maintenance tasks, such as cutting the grass and trimming the hedge are a great part of teaching a child responsibility. During a survival situation, those tasks could be made more difficult due to the lack of electrical power or gasoline. Put that youthful energy to work, learning how to take care of the yard.
Help with Cooking
In some cultures girls learn to cook very young, while in others they learn when they get married. Being able to cook is a necessity for everyone, girls and boys alike. Children can start learning simple cooking tasks from a very young age, working their way up to more complex tasks as they grow older. Cooking in a survival situation will probably mean cooking outdoors over a wood fire. Children who are able to help with the cooking can run out to check on the food, saving you from having to run back and forth so much.
Set and Clear the Table
Simple tasks, such as setting and clearing the table, can be done by small children. Time consuming tasks of this type, which aren’t very complicated, are a great way to direct a child’s energy and make them feel like they are participating in meeting the family’s needs. While it may seem simple, that’s an important part of building their self-esteem.
Gather Firewood and Tend the Fire
This was a traditional task for children on the frontier. Gathering firewood doesn’t require great strength or knowledge, just time. Children would gather from deadfall branches and trees. Larger ones would be marked so that dad could go cut them up or drag them back with a horse.
Tending the fire was a child’s job as well. This included bringing in wood from outdoors, starting the fire if it went out and adding wood to the fire. Being able to start a fire is an important skill and you can challenge them, expecting them to be able to do so with just one match. That will help make them work harder at doing it well.
Read More: Firewood Stacking Methods
Children tend to look at fishing as recreation, but it’s also an important task for them to do to help the family. If you live close to a fishing hole or are bugging out from home, catching a few fish early in the morning is a great way for a child to participate in the family’s survival.
Dave is a 52 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 30 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he’s grey-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn’t dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. You can learn more about Dave on his site, PreppingPlans.com
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