The Top Four Clubs that will Teach Kids Self-Reliance

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Family vacations, lazy days at the pool and barbecues are what summertime is all about. Like many moms, you want to keep your children busy. Consider involving them in an organization or club that will also teach kids self-reliance.

Many youth organizations are excellent introductions to basic survival and homesteading techniques. Some opportunities presented to your child could also teach them important lessons about teamwork and how to win/lose gracefully.

Below are brief summaries of four children’s organizations that can teach your child important skills while having fun, making friends and developing a sense of accomplishment.

image: young girl showing sheep in a club that teaches kids self-reliance

What is self-reliance for kids?

Self-reliance for kids means having the ability to take care of oneself and make independent decisions. It involves developing skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and responsibility. Self-reliance is important because it helps children to develop confidence and independence, and prepares them for the challenges of adulthood. It enables them to make informed choices, take responsibility for their actions, and adapt to changing circumstances. By learning self-reliance at a young age, children are better equipped to succeed in school, relationships, and their future careers.

Kind of important, right? And it doesn’t hurt to have some help to reinforce the concepts you’re teaching at home, which is where these organizations come in.

(However, if you’re wondering how your child is doing in this regard, take this life skills test for kids.)

4 Clubs that Teach Kids Self-Reliance

These four clubs, 4-H, scouts, boys and girls clubs, and FFA, focus on teaching children self-reliance, along with other important life skills. They provide valuable opportunities for young people to learn and grow, developing skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

1. Scouting

Scouts emphasizes self-reliance through outdoor activities, leadership opportunities, and character development. Whether it be Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, Trail Life for Boys, or American Heritage Girls organized Scouting programs teach kids many survivalist skills.

Through a reward system of badges, pins, and patches that show others his or her accomplishments, Scouting can teach your child:

  • Camping
  • Personal fitness
  • Fishing
  • First Aid
  • Swimming
  • Archery / Rifle Shooting
  • Cooking
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Environmental Science
  • Pioneering
  • Gardening
  • Trailblazing/Hiking
  • Textiles / Sewing

Scouting organizations generally start accepting members as young as going into kindergarten (Girl Scouts) or finishing kindergarten (Cub Scouts) and continue on through adulthood. The typical Scouting program follows the fall through spring school year with additional outdoor and camping programs over the summer.

2. 4-H

4-H (Head, Heart, Hands, Health) is a youth organization which focuses on practical education and encourages young people to take responsibility for their own learning and development. Children to develop skills by taking on specialized projects over the course of the 4-H year.

Typically, projects are showcased at local fairs in recognition of the child’s hard work and accomplishment. Animal projects are rewarded with the sale of raised livestock by local supporting businesses and individuals.

Some examples of projects that teach several homesteading skills include:

  • Fishing
  • Canning & Freezing
  • Exploring the Outdoors
  • Archery/Guns
  • Gardening
  • Numerous Baking & Cooking projects
  • Tractor Operations
  • Sewing
  • First Aid
  • Staying Healthy

Detailed projects on breeding and raising livestock include:

  • Cattle
  • Goats
  • Hogs
  • Poultry
  • Rabbits
  • Lambs
  • Horses

Children going into the third grade and above can join 4-H, show their projects, and sell their livestock at local fairs. Younger children can join as a Cloverbud member depending on the group but have limitations on what they can present during fair season.

The typical 4-H year follows the calendar year beginning in January or February depending on the area and generally ends after their county fair the end of summer or early fall. Other summer programs and camps are generally offered.

3. Boys & Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Club originally began to provide a safe and positive environment to get boys off the streets. Today, the club still provides a place for both boys and girls to be safe and supervised away from home.

Although the program may not go as far as to teach in-depth survivalist skills, the club does offer many activities to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle. The end game for this organization is to empower young people to become self-sufficient and responsible adults through programs focused on education, leadership, and healthy habits.

Participating in a program that is open to all personalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds requires adaptation on all those involved.  The club is generally open to school-age children but some locations may offer programs for younger children as well. Most facilities are open year-round and hours of operation may vary.

4. National FFA Organization

Future Farmers of America or FFA is an agricultural education program typically available to high school students. Many children even in small-town and rural areas are unaware of the skills needed and traditional methods of successful farming. FFA goes above and beyond teaching kids how to grow their own food. They’ll also learn about leadership and develop self-reliance through hands-on experience and career exploration.

The program teaches students the science beyond farming, the importance and value of agriculture, and its role in feeding the world. The program provides a foundation for many types of careers including biologists, chemists, veterinarians, engineers, and more.

There are many conferences, camps, and other events for furthering agricultural education. Many different awards and incentives are in place for achieving goals, including scholarships.

Final Thoughts on Teaching Self-Reliance to Kids

Not all children’s activities will result in a room full of trophies and shiny medals. The skills learned in the programs above provide a foundation of both basic and detailed survivalist intelligence.

Many other programs exist that can assist in furthering your child’s homesteading dexterity. Some organizations may be localized so be sure to check with area schools, daycares, and other well-known children facilities for programs that introduce survival basics in your area. You could even begin and continue their education using this list of more than 32 survival skills your kids should know.

These four clubs, 4-H, scouts, boys and girls clubs, and FFA, focus on teaching children self-reliance, along with other important life skills. They provide valuable opportunities for young people to learn and grow, developing skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

How do you think these groups teach kids self-reliance?

Originally published May 27, 2018; updated and revised by Team Survival Mom.

11 thoughts on “The Top Four Clubs that will Teach Kids Self-Reliance”

  1. I would also add American Heritage Girls (ahgonline.org) and Trail Life USA (traillifeusa.com). These organizations are growing by leaps and bounds! TRAIL LIFE was the fastest growing scouting organization this yr and only started last sept! AHG has been number 1 for many yrs only passed by trail life this year. They are Faith Based scouting groups very similar to the others but are Christ Centered and more organized.

  2. Thank you for mentioning Trail Life! I have been looking for a group that had our values for our boys! There is even a group in our home town.

  3. Stephanie Hilliard

    While I am not trying to speak ill, please be aware the focus and approach of Girl Scouts has changed drastically in the past 15 years. If you are thinking about Girl Scouts, please be sure to check out the approach and focus of both the national organization and your local council to make sure that it agrees with your family’s values and the goals you have for scouting before committing to putting your children into it. If it does, great! If not, there are other options, including several mentioned above.

    My daughter was a scout from kindergarten through early high school. Our family got a lot out of the organization, but I honestly would not put her in scouts if we were starting out now. Just my personal opinion.

  4. I have found that in Scouting (and Guiding depending on what country you live in) the focus of the individual groups often depends on the unit leaders. Ask questions before committing to a certain group or shop around to find one that fits your preferences.

  5. My children are in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. They love it. and have learn so many useful skills. Our Girl Scout troop has, in addition to teaching basic business skills, taught girls basic car maintenance, camping, alternative ways of cooking, orienteering and leadership. The personal Management badge for the Boy Scouts is a good skill to learn and a good foundation for future. The only child of mine who doesn’t know how to properly start a fire is the 7 year old.

    As stated above, look at your local organizations and troops and ask questions. It took us 3 troops before we found the right one for the boys. Luckily the girls’ troop was easy as SIL started it and we help in many capacities. Not every girl scout troop takes their girls camping 3 to 4 times a year (or more). Nor does every boy scout troop.

  6. Never heard of Trail Life before now, but I’m going to look into it further. Looks like they have a group in my home town. Thank you!

    1. My son was in Trail Life for a year and enjoyed it. His group was brand new and were still trying to figure things out, but it’s a good program.

  7. We had our daughter in Girl Scouts, they did nothing more than make paper crafts all year. She learned nothing even remotely useful. They never even helped out in the community. Big let down! I think Scouts “usefulness” depends on your leaders. 4H and some of the others seem like a much better bet as far as skill-teaching goes.

  8. So I think that there are a few skill sets that come from 4H and FFA (it is Just FFA it has not been “Future Farmers of America” for over 20 year).

    1. Learning how to learn something
    a. with the help of others
    b. learning how to learn on your own
    2. Learning how to take a project to completion.
    a. Identifying an interest.
    b. Identifying some thing you can do or can learn to do.
    c. Seeking help with that project
    d. Documenting that project along with other activities.
    e. Dealing with failures and the unexpected.
    f. Showing what you did and teaching others about it.
    3. Public Speaking.
    In the 4H club I grew up in we had to give a presentation on one our projects to
    club before we could play on the softball team (fast pitch {Learned to hit an 80 to
    90 mph underhand pitch as a 8 or 9 year old}).
    4. Learning how to compete and that people will not let you win.
    There was public speaking, parliamentary procedure, Judging Competitions of all
    types, quiz competitions event song and plays with level from county, state and
    national. Where you were putting yourself out there in front of a crowd.

    Learning how to win and how to loose with grace with out loosing the
    determination to win again.
    5. Learning how to network and make contacts and friends.
    Become fearless when it comes to asking and acting with people. Got to meet
    with the Deputy Secretary of the USDA in DC as a 17 year old because I was
    fearless in my interactions and not afraid to ask to do something different from
    the group while I was on a trip.

    6. Learning Goal setting and self evaluation skills.
    Big thing was learning how to grow as a person.
    Which some of the hardest parts are being honest with who you are and
    where you are at at the time.

    The listed skills (like computers or shooting sports) are just a vehicle for greater learning.

  9. For faith-focused families, American Heritage Girls and Trail Life USA!!!!
    The other organizations have changed their values and are too often following political agendas vs the best for the youth participating in them.

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