Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kids and Survival

     A friend recently mentioned that his son was interested in survival, as I'm sure a lot of kids are becoming.  With The Discovery Channel's line up on survival themed shows, survivalism is definitely becoming more popular, and though it might be a trend, the life lessons you can offer to yourself and your children can be far reaching.  As a busy New Yorker, I understand it is not always feasible to leave the city weekends and take your kids camping.  Remember, though camping is ideal, you don't always have to leave as there are a ton of activities related to survival in N.Y.C. for you and your adventure/survival seeking children.  I would like to share some links, items, and ideas that can help you keep your kids appetite for knowledge, fulfilled.

  • The Boys Scouts of America - Although the Boy Scouts can be an amazing learning experience for your children, you run the risk of them losing interest in it.  The BSA, is an old and established American institution that has endless learning possibilities.  It has big flaws though, the main one being that it does not reinvent itself and can become either boring or "uncool" to most growing adolescents.  Its counter part, The Girl Scouts of America is just plain insulting, making young girls sell cookies instead of allowing them to do the more interesting things the boys get to do.  I suggest running a merit badge system yourself.  By doing so you are teaching yourself, and your children, a uniformed curriculum that is controlled by you.
  • Books - I have listed a few books from Amazon that are geared toward Survival/Adventure seeking kids at the bottom of this post.
  • Rock Climbing - You may think to yourself, what does rock climbing have to do with survival?  Turns out tons!  I'm somewhat new to rock climbing myself and I have found it very addictive and fulfilling.  It has multiple survival applications for kids and adults.  You and your children can find it to be a fun, energetic experience that teaches proper rope usage, incredibly useful knots, and build core muscles and agility.  
    • There are a few places in N.Y.C. that offer classes and have walls.  My favorite is in Brooklyn and is called Brooklyn Boulders. It is by far the best, and largest, indoor climbing gym around.  It offers great rates, and is kid friendly. 
  • Public Pools - Teaching your children to be strong swimmers goes beyond being necessary for survival, it's necessary for life.  N.Y.C. offers swim lessons at its public pools, as well as YMCA's.  Take advantage during the warm months.
  • Fishing - Introducing your children to fishing can be fun and relatively simple.  All you need is a pole or two, some bait and a license.  You actually don't need a license to fish in the Hudson, but it never hurts;   I was taught at a young age to fish by my grandfather, and it's still some of the fondest memories of my childhood.
  • Camping - Taking your kids camping can be the highlight of your little ones month or year.  Letting them practice the things they see on TV or read about, in a supervised environment, can really let them get a feel for the outdoor life.  You can teach basic survival knowledge like different fire starting techniques, Firesteel (linked below), bow drill, or a parabolic mirror (linked below).  Show them all the stuff the skilled survivalists on TV teach, with an emphasis on fun.  Don't forget parents, one of the main points of these little trips is to show that survival is not like TV, and all these things are a lot harder and time consuming then kids will realize.  Hollywood magic is needed for much of the things they demonstrate on these shows because without it, a 45 minute show would cover the fire making procedures and that's about it.  Some research is going to be necessary to find proper parks that allow hunting and fishing, and what licenses you need.  You will also have to see where you can practice fire making and who allows it.  New York's laws are pretty strict, places in Pennsylvania can be a bit more lenient.  There are campgrounds with running water and bathrooms all over.  At first you might just want to get out and spend sometime in one of them to see how your kids like sleeping in the wilderness.  Here is a place that I have stayed, and can recommend.  It is cheap, has working bathrooms, and little fire pits to practice fire making with.  If you don't have much outdoor experience yourself, places like this can be great because it is not exactly "ruffing it".  You can use a tent, or your car.  Remember, though not five star, you have working amenities and your pretty close to civilization.
  •  Central Park and Museums -  Places like the Museum of Natural History and The Met can show children that survival is not just something that we do because it's "cool".  It is, and has been a part of life for humans throughout time.  Survival was not just something to do on weekends.  It was, and in some parts of the world is still, a way of life.
     You can use your childrens' interest in survival for many things, the most important is an activity that lets you spend quality time with your family.  Through your teaching and research, you will start to expand on your skill base and learn many things that can be very useful to you and your children.


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