Half term survival skills. Actual survival skills.

It looks like dads are going to have to entertain their kids in old fashioned ways this October half term. We’ve some survival skills you can pass on.

person by a tent camping outdoors


With many dads spending more time with their children than ever before over the last six months, it’s fair to say for many it has been a real eye-opener. While our children have acquired several skills kids simply wouldn’t have learnt 10 to 15 years ago, there are a number of techniques they simply have no appreciation of.

A number of these are core ‘survival skills’. If your child got lost, or if the end of the world truly did come through climate breakdown, would they know how to stay safe?

The experts at outdoor play company BeBop have shared seven survival skills tips they believe dads should teach their kids. They also present great opportunities to spend quality time with your children and require little equipment.

Building a fire

Making a fire is great fun and also one of the most crucial survival skills. Firstly, take time to teach your child on the basics of fire; oxygen, heat and fuel. Then, work together on how to make a spark, using two sharp pieces of flint to create sparks. You can also use glass or a mirror to reflect light from the sun to create condensed heat.

Next, introduce a fuel such as dry grass, paper or cardboard. It’s really important to ensure the less dense fuel that burns such as twigs and thin paper is kept at the bottom of the fire. Not only will this ensure a safer fire, but it will last longer and generally burn more effectively.

As we all know fires can be very dangerous. Be careful when your child is practising using a lighter or matches. Always ensure fires are built away from trees or other flammable objects, and are built in a suitable, well ventilated and non-enclosed space.

Climbing trees

Climbing trees can be a really important survival tactic outside, both to gain fruit, shelter or to protect yourself from things on the ground. The most important aspect to learn when climbing trees is the safety; ensuring the tree branches are not rotten or in danger of not holding your child’s weight. Trees that are rotten display signs of leaf discolouration, irregular bark and obvious signs of decay.

If you’re good with DIY why not tie this in with building a tree swing, it’s great fun for children of all ages.

Finding clean drinking water

This is one of the key components to survival and the most important tip to teach your children is that water always flows downhill. The most obvious bet is finding streams, rivers and lakes, especially at the bottom of valleys. Animals also often know where clean water is, so encourage your children to look for animal tracks leading to water sources. It’s wise to teach your child to only drink flowing water also, as still, stagnant water has a much higher risk of contamination.

Reading the sky for directions, time and approaching bad weather

Familiarise your child with the iterations of the sky, and what they mean throughout the day, such as measuring the time through the position of the sun, and hints of approaching storms. Tracking of the sun throughout the day can also be used to identify East and West, and once learnt will be vital in aiding in directions. On top of this teaching your child how to read and orient a map is also an extremely valuable life lesson as they can’t expect to rely on Google Maps in all situations.

Administering basic first aid

It’s surprising how few children are taught the basics on how to stop bleeding. It’s one of the most important aspects of administering first aid in an emergency situation. Teach your child the three aspects if they are faced with bleeding; covering the wound with a gauze or cloth; applying direct pressure to stop the blood; and not removing the cloth. The cloth will help clots in the blood to form which prevents the flow.

Identifying useful plants

While there are many edible plants, teaching your children the ones that certainly shouldn’t be eaten is perhaps most important. Think about familiarising yourself with the look of the Deadly and Woody nightshade plants and flowers. If ingested they are very poisonous. It’s not just whether a plant can be consumed that’s important. Think about the herbal benefits of lavender, aloe vera and dock leaves, that are natural antiseptics.

Finding appropriate shelter

Finding appropriate shelter is key as it ensures you are protected from rain and wildlife. This can be obtained by elevating your bed off the ground – which also protects from bugs. Or look for coverage from trees and caves. Children love making dens so this is sure to keep them entertained for a couple of hours.

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