32 Wilderness Survival Skills for Kids

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32 wilderness survival skills, survival skills for kids, wilderness survival for kidsOur very popular list, 32 Survival Skills Your Child Should Know and Be Able To Do ASAP, has been well received but we noticed there were important skills and pieces of knowledge that were missing. So, we went to work and created this wilderness skill set, plus a basic skill set and a mental and urban survival skill set.

Kids come in all ages. Not all skills are appropriate for younger kids, in particular.

Additionally, there is essential wilderness survival gear that kids should carry AND know how to use.

Basic Wilderness Survival Skills for Kids

1. Rowing and steering a rowboat, canoe, and any other watercraft common in your area

2. Safely use an axe and/or hatchet

3. Safely build, start, maintain, and extinguish fires, including fires for signaling, warmth, and cooking

4. Prep wood for fire, from kindling through larger logs

5. Make firestarters from a variety of resources, including those you can find in the woods

6. Keep a blade tool clean and sharp

7. Tie different types of knots

8. Water safety, beyond just swimming

9. Camouflage


10. Find or build a shelter in the wilderness

11. Select a campsite, including weather and safety considerations

12. Make a tarp shelter

13. Camping in multiple weather zones and environments (beach, snow)

14. Local edible and medicinal plant foraging skills

15. Stay warm, cool, and dry in the elements

16. Pitch a tent

17. Understand dietary needs and how to meet them using wild plants and game

Finding Their Way

18. Climb a tree to get away from predators, to get directional bearings, and to hunt

19. Read several kinds of maps (including topographic) and use at least one kind of compass

20. Read the sky for directions, time and approaching bad weather

21. Use a GPS


22. Dutch oven cooking

23. Raise food livestock

24. Slaughter and prepare food livestock for eating

25. Build and use a cooking fire

Local Wildlife

26. Identify and understand animal tracks and scat

27. Understand basic feral animal behavior

28. Recognize dangerous local animals, their habitats, and signs they are nearby

29. Identify local poisonous animals, their habitats

30. Identify local edible plants and animals, their habitat

31. Fish and hunt using a bow and a gun

32. Clean and prepare fish and wild game for eating

How do your kids stack up? For more kid-friendly skills lists, check these out:

32 Basic Survival Skills for Kids

32 Mental and Urban Survival Skills for Kids

32 Survival Skills Your Child Should Know and Be Able To Do ASAP!

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Bethanne is an eclectic writer who lives in the exurbs (that's what comes after the suburbs) with her husband, sons, and cats. She has been writing for The Survival Mom since 2010. You can learn more about her books, including the "Survival Skills for All Ages" series, at BethanneKim.com.

20 thoughts on “32 Wilderness Survival Skills for Kids”

  1. I think this is an awsome list. I would add to the hunting and fishing trapping. I also did not see driving a vehicle or recreational vehicles used by the family. This is very important as a teenager may need to drive the boat snow machine or atv to get help. Also first aid skills are very important.

    1. Thanks! I am making these lists into a series of books and driving is included in “26 Mental and Urban Skills” for exactly that reason. First Aid is covered in “26 Basic Life Skills. There are too many important skills for one list – or book!

    1. You are completely correct, and those will be included in the book I’m writing on “26 Outdoor Life Skills”.

      1. I am scout masters with troop 214 vicco ky and I a showing my scouts how to survive in the out doors but patents are hard to get into the active. How can I get parents to help out?

  2. There’s a difference between survival and bushcraft and I’d say this list is bushcraft and not survival although bushcraft covers many survival skills. Survival would be shelter, filtering/purifying water, fire, etc. Swimming, really? One of the simplest yet important tools/skills to have is to have a compass and know how to use it. Also, it’s safer to not eat vegetation unless it’s known to be safe absolutely. As mentioned by another, communication is also important in a survival situation so as to be rescued, but it’s not mentioned. I’m not talking electronic communications alone, but signal fires, three signals in a row, navigation markings to guide rescuers and know where you are or have been, etc.

    1. Hey Juan, don’t underestimate the importance of swimming. This is a skill that you need to survive in harsh condition. At the very least, you need to be able to float on water for a short period of time.

    2. Most of those are covered either in this post or in one of the companion posts. While I would certainly agree people aren’t going to go for a day at the beach in a survival situation, there are MANY situations where the ability to swim could help them save themselves, save another, or get to needed help / supplies. I remain firmly of the opinion that swimming is very important.

      1. Agree with Liz Long, true that situations vary. And People are not going to the beach for a whole day but also swimming is critical for survival and kids should know that skill correctly.

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  6. Great lists. To add on that, I would attach a whistle to kid’s backpack so that as soon as they realize they have become separated from the group, they will start blowing that whistle like crazy.

  7. This is a great list. Children spend so much time with technology these days and need to get back to nature and learning basic skills. My kids love the outdoors and cooking, so they have done quite a few things on this list already. For example, they have all helped to pitch a tent and prepare food. There are plenty more that I can take on with them as a challenge to learn. My boys are 5, 7, and 13, so there is something in this list that is suitable for all their ages.

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