Great Outdoors and Survival Learning Ideas and Gifts for Children

One of the best way for children to learn is by experience. And when considering teaching them practical skills that can help them survive, or at least, make life easier when camping or enjoying the outdoors, there’s nothing better than the type of gift that is fun to use and which can stimulate the imagination.

Camping or walking in the woods are great settings that offer the type of environment to get children interested in how to do things they have never done before. Here are a set of interesting items that you can get your children or grandchildren for Christmas or special events.

I’m going to provide specific examples of quality items, but keep in mind they may not work for your children, depending on their age or development level. Most important is what a product can do, rather than the exact one that I show you.

That said, if they are age or development appropriate, by all means check out how they’re described and what buyers have said about them.

1. Binoculars

Whether out camping or walking in an urban or wooded area, binoculars are a very compelling and interesting item to use. The good thing about binoculars is you can buy a different type of each age group, with additional features that can be a lot of fun to figure out and adapt to a variety of interests.

To add to the fun and teaching moments, you could design some type of game where they have to spot certain things you give them clues for, or you could send them on some type of hunt to discover items you placed around the area. The ideas are endless as to what could the binoculars could be used for.

Identifying birds, locating a certain type of tree, fauna, or other part of the forest or farmland, introduces them to not only the delight of using binoculars, but quickly become an enjoyable learning tool that they don’t consider dreary or boring.

The one I’m recommending for older children or adults is a 10 x 50 full size set of binoculars. Keep in mind these are for general use and shouldn’t be considered what some would think of as “survival” binoculars. They’re good for everyday use and can be used as a stepping stone to a higher quality pair if the child shows an interest using them on a consistent basis.

For younger children an 8 x 21 compact lightweight set of binoculars are a good option. Even adults could use these for shorter distant viewing, or if they’re on a long walk and don’t want to carry a heavier set. It only weights about a third of a pound.

2. Flashlight or headlamp

To me, the major way to go for a flashlight is with the Mini Cree. It is waterproof and can be used in almost any outdoors situation, including climbing and cycling. It very durable and can take some hard use. It’s inexpensive and generates up to 300 lumens. Kids will love it.

As for headlamps, I’ve seen my children and grandchildren use these, and they love them. They never tire of trying them out in all types of situations – whether day or night. Find some shade and they’re turning the lights on and doing some visual investigating.

One that works very well is the LE Headlamp LED. It weighs less than 3 ounces and includes an elastic, adjustable headband. They sell for less than $8.00 on Amazon. If you’re buying for several children, you can get headlamps in bulk as well.

Headlamps are especially useful when needing light while keeping your hands free to do something. I can honestly say I’ve never seen an adult or child that uses them not satisfied with the experience.

3. Compass

A compass is one of the more interesting items to get a child, as they are terrific teaching tools, and extremely fun to use.

One thing to consider here is you should be willing to buy at least a decent compass; by which I mean not that little button type we’ve all seen that really don’t work. It’s important to ensure it’s a compass that actually can do the job.

If you’ve ever used those cheap little compasses, you know each one can point in a different direction. They’re really nothing more than trinkets and novelty items.

The nice thing about a compass is you can get quality ones for under $20.00. Understand I’m talking about directional compasses here, not a compass used in geometry

For a child that is very serious about the military, or using a compass for hunting or hiking in the woods, this one by Rothco is very good. It’s a little high end and isn’t super cheap, but it definitely would widen the eyes of any serious user.

Some people say it’s what they used in the armed forces

One that isn’t as elaborate but still durable and of high quality, is the Suunto A-10 Field Compass. It’s more colorful than the Rothco compass, and is still a good option even at a much lower price point.

If you don’t want to pay a lot, there are a lot of fairly decent compasses for around $10.00. A compass is one thing that should be at or close to the top of the list for something that will attract the interest of a younger or older child, and provide some great learning opportunities while developing important skills. It could save their lives one day if they are ever lost in the woods or outdoors.

4. Clip-on Light for your peace of mind

Young children in particular would enjoy wearing a light during the night hours, but in truth, this would give adults a lot more piece of mind if they were to know where their children or grandchildren were by attaching a light to them.

This is especially true if we’re sitting around a bonfire that causes us to have trouble seeing very far outside the immediate parameter of the fire. That’s also true if we have a camper or tent that we have lights around until we are ready to go to bed.

Having lights on them can be fun because we can allow them to play a little further out, or even keep the lights a little lower as long as we can keep track of and count them by the lights we see.

Not only that, but if we want to enjoy the outdoors at night without too many lights on, an LED clip-on light can be placed near the door of a camper or entrance to a tent. They are also used at times to place around an item or container we want to find when it’s dark out

Many people that have dogs in particular, use them to keep an eye on where they’re at.

5. Walkie-Talkie

What kid, and in some cases adults, don’t enjoy using a walkie-talkie? They’re of course enjoyable for participating in advanced versions of games of hide-and-go-seek, such as hiding in the woods, where one person with the walkie-talkie may give clues to where they are to see if another person can find them.

On a more practical level, they’re also a great way to keep track of a child if you’re in a larger camp area with your extended family, where you can use the walkie-talkie to check in on them, rather than having to go and physically find or get your eyes on them.

A couple of things to consider with walkie-talkies is if you have a HAM license, there are a number of sets you can buy that include that function in it. That would be a great way to train your children on the features and reasoning behind it.

If you’re not that serious about it, you can get some that have NOAA weather. Not only is that a teaching device, but it’s something we all need to check on weather conditions when camping or spending time in the outdoors.

One nice option for your older children is a set of Baofeng UV-5R radios. They’ll enjoy them, but they’ll probably have to take a little time to teach you some of the functions, as they have numerous features that take time to figure out.

If you’re licensed, you can transmit ham radio frequencies with these, but they can also be used as GMRS walkie-talkies or Family Radio Service (FRS).

Something less elaborate, but still of high quality, is the Motorola MH230TPR set. They have 11 weather channels, with 7 NOAA. They also include an alert feature. They have up to 23-mile range.

A nice feature is they come with belt clips, dual charger, an adapter and rechargeable battery packs.

It should be noted that these are ideas. The point is to understand they have different features, and those features have the built-in capacity to be a fun learning tool for your children, as they learn survival skills.

Many times the most effective way of teaching is to teach in a way they don’t know they’re being taught. Walkie-talkies are a great way to do that.

6. Knife

I know some parents get nervous when talking about knives and children, but for those that are old enough and are taught responsibility, they’re a great addition to their survival kit and training.

While boys in particular love to collect knives at a certain age (many men too), one of the better knives to use is a multi-use knife like a Swiss Army knife. To me, that’s one of the first knives to buy a child, as it triggers their curiosity and creativity, as they go about trying to figure out ways to use the various tools included in the knife

There are a wide array of Swiss Army knives, but for children, you don’t have to get the ultimate knife in order for them to enjoy and experiment with it. For that reason I recommend a more moderate but quality model – the Cadet Multi-tool Knife.

The Cadet features 9 functions, including a 2-inch blade, bottle opener, corkscrew, small screwdriver, among other things. It is sturdy and includes a lifetime guarantee.

7. Paracord Bracelet

A paracord bracelet is a terrific tool to give your children. One feature that should be considered is the need for it to be adjustable. I say that because it removes the need to figure out if the paracord bracelet you buy will fit the wrist of the person you’re buying it for.

With that in mind, a good choice would be a TruConquest Paracord Bracelet. It fits a small to large wrist, and has a lifetime warranty.

If you’re not familiar with what a paracord bracelet, it’s a cord that can be used in emergency situations, such as repairing, securing or harnessing something. The one I mention here is 11.5 feet long and can be disassembled in under a minute if needed.

Final thoughts

As you build up the number of tools your children or grandchildren can use for learning how to camp, survive, and engage with nature at different levels, it’s worth thinking of ways these different items can be used together. That would provide a number of creative ways your children can think up different uses and scenarios, which can improve their problem-solving skills.

There are a number of other things a parent could get their children that are related to these, including a slingshot, fishing rod, fire starter, backpack, hand warmers, tent, etc., which would add to the experience.

But those above can be used by anybody, and most people shouldn’t have a problem with them. For example, a slingshot is an obvious issue for some people, depending on the maturity level of their children at the time. A fishing rod is also great, but some may not have access to water. You get the point.

I would start with some of the things listed above, and then gradually build upon them over the months and years, depending upon the level of interest of each child.

One final thing I didn’t mention that all parents will likely support, is the inclusion of a journal in this. You could have your children walk about with what they have mentioned in the article, and take down notes or write down their thoughts on what they’re thinking and learning.

I think it would be better to let them do it spontaneously and in reference to something that intrigues them. That way it doesn’t feel like an assignment, but an interesting way of recording their adventures.

Having homeschooled my own children, I have found some of the best teaching and bonding times have been when using these types of interesting things to interact with the surrounding environment, while teaching the skills they can use for the rest of their lives. I think you’ll find out the same thing.

This isn’t to replace all regular schooling and learning, but is an effective way to complement it.


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