Bush craft and survival skills.
I used to take my kids on “survival” camping trips, and although these trips were far from the luxury of abundance we had at home. They were also very far from true survival.
For these trips, my kids and I would pack a 24-hour ration pack, a water bottle, a knife, matches, a sleeping bag and tarp. Sometimes we would take a yabbie trap, fishing rod or some other survival related equipment.
As you can see for a weekend away, we had everything we really needed, and we were not really in a survival situation at all. However, these trips did teach my kids many fundamental skills and to think outside of the box. They would look at their equipment and think of how many ways other then their intended use they could use the equipment.
It also gave the kids and me time to hone our skills. Skills such as lighting fires in less then desirable situations with no fire lighters, just matches or a fero rod and natural tinder. The confidence gained from this was invaluable. As confidence grew, we challenged ourselves to light fires with less and in more difficult circumstances and we are now able to light a fire in most conditions with very limited resources.
For this reason, do not underestimate this type of survival training. However, one must also not mistake this as a survival situation and become overconfident to a point where their ambition outweighs their ability.
A recent conversation with an ex-soldier who’s employment saw them undertake survival training in many different countries and environments made me realise that actual survival is very different to the training I was giving my kids.
For instance, when I was with my kids, we were always busy. Building a trap or a shelter or even just collecting firewood. This is great for training as you are out for a limited time and you know you can just drive home at the end of the weekend and get a nice full belly at home.
In a real survival situation, you do not know when you are going home, therefore you need to calculate every move you make. Is it worth the energy!
Different environments will mean different calculations for the activity. In a hot arid environment, you may just lay in the shade of a tree all day and not move until nightfall to keep from losing precious water. Whereas in a rainforest moving at night may be impossible due to the immense darkness and it may be better to remain still at night and move during the day.
You need to ensure that the collecting of any water and food or building of any shelter does not cause you more harm. If you spend 3 hours of physical activity digging down and moving rocks to get a half of cup of water. You are probably better off without that half a cup.
The ex-soldier I was talking to, told me stories of his survival training from weeks in the damp and insect ridden Malaysian Rain Forests to Time spent in dry and hot Arnhem Land Australia. He went on to explain being dumped in the middle of no where with nothing but his underwear and his boots with the laces removed. Explaining in full detail how much sunburn and heat exhaustion sucked. Or how mosquito bites and constant wet feet in the rain forest would turn into infected ulcers in a matter of days.
As hard as his stories sounded, I remembered thinking to myself even this is not true survival. You know your going to be picked up. You can go without food for a week all you need is to find water and wait it out.
Now I look back at the survival training I did with my kids and understand. Although the training of skills is beneficial and the time, I spent with my kids will be in their memories forever! In particular, the time we went camping under mylar blankets and it stormed and ripped our shelters apart and we ended up sleeping in the back of the car.
But they were more bush craft weekends away and if I wanted to teach survival, I should have redirected the focus of the weekend.
How are your survival skills? Would you survive if you got lost or injured on a hunting trip?
For the next several blogs I am going to write a series on survival. From theories such as the rule of 3 to survival skills broken down into step by step instructions. If you want to lift your survival abilities then make sure you subscribe to our email list!
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