Camping is the Best Outdoors Survival Training: 5 Things to Teach and Learn

It’s one thing to have a lot of thoughts and theory to deal with potential disasters in life, but it’s an entirely different matter to have engaged in practical applications of ideas to gain the type of experience that can make a difference if our lives are disrupted be unforeseen circumstances.

Whatever you specific situation is, I would recommend taking at least an occasional weekend camping trip to hone your skills, or the skills of your family members.

If you have children with you, I would recommend spending regular fun time, and then set aside a day, or at minimum, a block of time where you have to rough it in some way, and learn a skill that would help find a solution to a particular problem.

I wouldn’t try to do too much with younger children. In that case I would take a couple of simple ideas and talk to them about to the point they understand the concept, and then look at little things they could do to relieve the situation they face.

Teaching basics

It could be simple things like having an extra blanket if its cold, or what to do if they get wet and could get sick or worse, from hypothermia. We don’t want to scare children, but do want them to work on solving problems that could one day be life or death to them.

It could save your lives one day

There was a family friend that used to go trapping in northern Minnesota, who didn’t have the type of survival skills needed to face the harsh winters. When with one of us, both fell into a freezing creek when checking out the traps. The other person had electrician skills, so was able to tap into the electric wires and produce some heat in a tent they rapidly set up. It saves their lives.

Unfortunately, he didn’t learn from it and went out on his own not long afterward. He once again fell into the river, and this time hypothermia set in. He didn’t make it while attempting to quickly go back to his truck, which was parked too far away.

The point is we must have a backup plan for situations like these, and the fact he literally had no contingency for what happened a little while before, cost him his life.

Situational training

So when going camping, it’s a great way to talk about preparing for the worse of whatever particular situation we’ll be in, and then practicing the solutions so we can quickly perform them when the need arises.

I understand there are other types of scenarios that could involve urban settings, but the truth is, a lot of what works in the outdoors will also work in the city; they simply have to be modified.

Either way, a camping trip provides the environment and atmosphere of exploring and learning, and during those times children are excited and open to learning. It can be done with minimal interference with the overall experience, and should actually be part of it. If it’s not done in a too serious of a way, most children won’t resist it.

Some of the things an entire family could learn would be the use of the types of stored food you might need if or when a disaster strikes. That’s important because they learn to eat to survive, and not only for the pleasure of the taste of the food. It helps create a different type of mindset in the family.

Teaching how to start a fire for warmth or cooking is another good skill to teach, with an additional emphasis on fire safety; especially when finally putting it out.

I had to help put out a fire that a seasoned veteran failed to completely put out because he was in a hurry to get somewhere else. If a group of us hadn’t discovered it before it hit the nearby trees, the entire surrounding forest would have caught fire.

Gathering water would be another vital skill to learn, as well as using an outdoor water filter to ensure it is safe.

Dealing with how to discard garbage and food leftovers in a way it won’t attract bears or nuisance animals, is another skill that should be taught.

Roughing it

Something that comes with the camping territory that doesn’t have to be taught, is roughing it. Just going camping involves the lack of what the family is used to having in the home, and the scarcity provides a great opportunity to teach not only the mindset needed to survive, but how to have self-discipline in consuming food or sleeping on a harder surface than normal.

There is also the added feeling and sense of adventure when sleeping in a tent or similar space.

Now when camping, some need to know I’m not talking about doing it in a decked-out motor home. If you have one that’s fine, but then it would be important to do some things outside that will help teach survival skills.

Medical skills

Another thing camping provides is to develop basic medical skills that can be used in a variety of circumstances. Everything from sunburn, insect bites, or serious injuries.

This is one area I think it could be done in a fun atmosphere. Let mom or dad pretend they have suffered some type of injury, and then use the first aid kit you brought with you to treat it. Be sure to have the things being treated those that have a real chance of occurring. Obscure and unlikely medical challenges wouldn’t make a lot of sense to teach, unless you want to use it as a segue into the main lesson.

If you go camping a few times a year, each trip you could take a different medical situation and teach it to the kids.


While camping could include weapons training and self-defense, it would probably be better to do that in an area away from other people, depending on what type of area you’re camping in.

Camping could be a place to teach evasion and different types of weapons outside of firearms. You could teach on the use of knives, or better, what you have available in the camp if the need arose.

I prefer that type of training because it makes everyone think in different ways. A gun may not be available if a risk from other humans happened, and that means finding something quickly that could be used for self-defense.

As a matter of fact, something everyone should learn is to set up camp with innocent looking things scattered about for the purpose of self-defense. By that I mean certain types of solid pots and pans, a shovel, or even some weapons that are hid in plain site, but not easily seen by intruders. You get the idea.

Gun training from my point of view, especially with those just learning, would be better in a more controlled environment. That said, it doesn’t hurt to have toy guns that look similar to real guns for younger children, with the idea of teaching them strategy and how to defend themselves in different scenarios that may arise.

That could include positioning of each family member in the camp if a threat were to emerge, and how to safely deal with an intruder or intruders if several family members have guns. You don’t want to be shooting at someone if another family member of friend is located on the other side of them. Friendly fire can hurt or kill someone just as easily as an enemy combatant.


Camping provides the perfect environment to teach the family the basic skills needed to survive if a major societal or natural disruption occurs. It’s great for learning because much of it is having to take care of ourselves when we’re roughing it a little bit.

So while there can be specific teaching sessions, the camp itself and the needs that have to be met, will provide as many lessons as any scheduled training will.

Also valuable is we can get immediate feedback on how everyone is learning by asking them to do something during the trip that was already learned or part of the process of camping.

If you haven’t been the camping type, you owe it to yourself and your family to take a few trips each year to learn and hone your skills. It will force you to do some research and acquire the type of items that preppers will need in any disaster, while teaching in real life how they are to be used.

It’ll build a tougher mindset, while building skills which will in turn boost our confidence to deal with anything that may come our way. It can all be done while having a lot of family fun and bonding. Nothing like a little hardship to build the ties that bind a family together.


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