32 Wilderness Survival Skills for Kids

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Our very popular list, 32 Survival Skills Your Child Should Know and Be Able To Do ASAP, has been well received. However, we noticed there were important skills and pieces of knowledge that were missing. So, we went to work and created this wilderness survival skills for kids 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. You know your child best. Choose skills based on maturity and level of development.

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

image: young boy practicing wilderness survival skills for kids starting campfire

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


  1. Find or build a shelter in the wilderness
  2. Select a campsite, including weather and safety considerations
  3. Make a tarp shelter
  4. Camping in multiple weather zones and environments (beach, snow)
  5. Local edible and medicinal plant foraging skills
  6. Stay warm, cool, and dry in the elements
  7. Pitch a tent
  8. Understand dietary needs and how to meet them using wild plants and game

Finding Their Way

  1. Climb a tree to get away from predators, get directional bearings, and hunt
  2. Read several kinds of maps (including topographic) and use at least one kind of compass
  3. Read the sky for directions, time and approaching bad weather
  4. Use a GPS


  1. Dutch oven cooking
  2. Raise food livestock
  3. Slaughter and prepare food livestock for eating
  4. Build and use a cooking fire

Local Wildlife

  1. Identify and understand animal tracks and scat
  2. Understand basic feral animal behavior
  3. Recognize dangerous local animals, their habitats, and signs they are nearby
  4. Identify local poisonous animals and their habitats
  5. Identify local edible plants and animals, and their habitat
  6. Fish and hunt using a bow and a gun
  7. Clean and prepare fish and wild game for eating

Remember to check out these other kid-friendly skills lists:

How many of these wilderness survival skills have your children acquired?

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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