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Thread: Survival Games For Kids

  1. #1
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    Survival Games For Kids


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    I have been asked to put on a 2 day survival camp for kids aged 8-12.

    I have taught the Hug A Tree program before but this is much more in depth.

    Any ideas as to what can be educational, fun and teach very basic skills to kids?

    Their attention span is pretty short say 30 mins.

    How do I fill say 6 hrs I have a gap for?



    Skam

  2. #2
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    I would ask whoever is requesting this what they goals are, then based on this get specific keeping in ming what the parents are comfortable with you teaching them. Locally here, it wasn't uncommon by the age of eight to have an axe in the woods and be responsible for camp fires for example. Odds are though that this isn't reasonable for most.

    I would suggest starting off with really basic practices, the biggest survival problem for kids is just wandering off in the first place, then continuing to wander, and then ignoring the dangers of the elements. Kids often have a real problem of hiding from "strangers" which can prevent rescue and unfortunately there isn't a great solution to that.

    At that age you want most things to be games as well, a treasure hunt can easily teach the basics of map reading and using a compass, plus you can get specific about plants (what to avoid and what to use) plus how to use them.

    -Cliff

  3. #3
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    there was a "game" that tom brown would "play" where he avoided telling the names of animals....to explore the "non labeling side of things"

    for instance someone would pick up a snail, and 2 scenerios would happen:
    he would reply "oh thats a red striped snail" and the kid would just put it down

    or he would ask questions about the snail, he would ask "how does it feel" as it moved across his hands, the kid would say "it feels like something is almost grasping and licking my hand" or "how does it talk?" and the boy would reply "it doesn't have a mouth!" how does it see? it doesn't have real eyes either....and then they would learn on their own how to pull apart and discover things.

    with that note, a good old fashioned bug hunt is pretty fun, if you do it while its still warm out. Aquatic insects are active all year and they are a really good indicator of stream health, there are lots of activities for biology from that aspect.

  4. #4
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    Two very important questions:
    1. How many kids total are involved?? (the larger the herd, the harder to control)
    2. What is the projected kid:adult ratio??

    Keep the kids busy *DOING* something or they'll scatter on you. Those 8-12 year olds are dangerous. They're full of energy, have way too many ideas of what to do with it, and are approaching the "I know it all" stage.

    #1. SAR Hunt

    Put the kids in a scenario where they are to find some lost "kid" targets. This will show them being lost from the other end of the search.

    Make some kid-sized poster board (or painted hardboard/masonite) chunks in different colors. Then place them against varying backgrounds like bushes, among tree trunks, bright fall foliage, at the base of rocks. Place some where they stand out and others where they blend in. You could do variations of color (hunter orange to the nature colors of green/brown/gray) and pattern (solid blocks of color to plaids or other shape-hiding patterns). Be sure to include some strips of that bright surveyors/contractors flagging tape among your "targets".

    Have the kids try to spot the cutouts from decreasing distances, starting at the half-mile or so mark. Maybe take the kids on a stroll from a starting line toward the area where the cutouts are positioned. As the kids spot the cutouts, have an adult that is stationed in the area of the cutouts with a walkie talkie tag the spotted ones as "found" or else lay them down so those cutouts are out of play.

    This exercise will teach the kids about how their clothing color and position relative to foliage & other nature structures can help them be spotted by SAR teams if they get lost. You might even mix the coloring scheme up (dull jacket with bright hat cutout vs bright jacket with dull hat cutout) to show the kids how large/small the color contrast with the background has to be for it to be easily spotted.

    After the SAR Hunt, have the kids tie surveyor's tape on sticks and prop the sticks up in the air for greater visibility. This is an easy activity that will give them some hands-on conditioning to use when they're lost for real. (We all learn best by doing, kids included.)

    #2. "Whistle distance" demo.

    Have an adult in walkie-talkie contact with you & the kid group both yell and blow a whistle (or more than one kind/brand of whistle) at increasing distance to show how the sound diminishes. Maybe have the whistle blower drive down a road going away from the kids, stopping every 0.1 of a mile to make time between whistle blasts short enough for the kids' attention span. You might try doing this in two types of environment at once to show how foliage absorbs sound -- one blower driving down a road among trees, while the other blower simultaneously drives across an open field bordering the trees.

    This will show the kids in a very empirical way how far the sound of a whistle will (and will not) carry.

    Give each of the kids a bright colored whistle of their very own. (maybe all the same color, to keep down the "My color is better than yours" squabbles. ) Teach them that three whistle blasts is a signal for help. And to only do it "WHEN THEY MEAN IT!!" Have them practice spacing the blasts out by a few seconds in a pattern of blast, wait, blast, wait, blast. Not blast-blast-blast altogether in a second (which in the field echoes will muddle together).

    #3. Make your bed before you lay in it
    These kids are probably old enough to understand about getting up off the cold ground if they are overnighted while lost.

    Have a branch mattress built (to avoid them trashing themselves breaking off branches to make their own). Have the kids lay down on bare ground to feel the cold. Then have each of them lay down on the bough mattress to feel how it keeps them from losing heat to the ground so directly.

    I figure this is already part of your "hug a tree to survive" program. But if not, this might occupy them for a half hour or so by the time each of them tries out the bough mattress.

    Speaking of which, part of your time slot could simply be to cover some of that "hug a tree" material with adjustments made for the age group.

    #4. A bit of what to have along with you

    Maybe do a layout of some kid-stuff they could be sure to take along any time they are headed for the woods or even out for a walk. Keep it to no more than probably six items. The emphasis will be on very simple comfort & discovery equipment.
    - their whistle
    - full bottle of water, probably 1-liter or so
    - some snack bars
    - rain jacket, preferably bright colored
    - 2 or 3 three-foot long pieces of surveyors tape with their name written on it with a waterproof marking pen
    ---------------------------

    In every exercise, it's important to give the kids a role to play, to give their impressions, state their opinions. Condition them to the idea that they can and should play an active part in their own rescue if they get lost for real.

  5. #5
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    Staying found, getting found

    While moving from place to place during the first day, work in a bit of orienteering. Kids in that age group are a lot smarter than most adults give credit. They should be able to use a compass and follow themselves on a topo-chart. Okay, Johnnie, where is camp now? Once basic use of the compass and topo-map are taught, it might be time for a treasure hunt.

    Signal mirror: Along with the signal whistle, you could also demonstrate just how far a signal mirror can be seen. If you do get lost where are you going to wait while people are looking for you? A signal mirror has much better reach than any whistle.

  6. #6
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    Kids are less likely to have a knife or tool on them when they happen to get lost (depending on their ages), so add to the above: basic signaling, when to stay put and when to move, improvising from what's in the woods, using stuff like line of sight navigation (primitive), basic celestial navigation, sun compass, teaching them how to use the landscape to find their way out (i.e. following a river or stream), knowing how to watch animals to learn where shelter, water, or food sources may be, basic tracking. Make everything a contest -- points given for doing things right, not just getting lucky, etc.

  7. #7
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    Under the heading of setting a good example, make sure all the adults are carrying mini-kits, and not necessarily the same stuff in each kit. Some basics on the what's, why's and how's of a kit would be useful. Maybe even have a short session on building and carrying a mini-kit. Then they can actually practice using their kits in field exercises/games. What a great age to learn about having and responsibly using "cool stuff".

    BTW, at 10yo I had a knife and a .22LR Winchester bolt action rifle. My nephew's uncle gave them each a Dozier Slim Outdoorsman on their 10th birthday.

  8. #8
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    Great ideas, Cheers.

    I will be expecting about 10 kids and as many parents.

    I am planning on using the parents as natural fence to keep the kids enclosed inthe training area.

    The first order of business would be the Hug a Tree program which goes through lost behaviour signaling and shelter etc...

    This takes a couple hrs and after that I need to fill 4 more hrs.

    I like the game ideas and Brian's points as kids love points.

    Of course small prizes etc..

    The child survival kit is a superb idea.

    I want to keep the parents away from the kids as many act up in front of the parents is my experience, what do you all think?

    Cheers! all now I have too many things to think about i have to limit.

    Skam

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by skammer
    I want to keep the parents away from the kids as many act up in front of the parents...
    They can, but you should be teaching the parents as well, it does next to nothing if the kids are never again exposed to the ideas you present after the class. You could also present to the parent a summary of the ideas and goals so the ones who truely want to prepare their kids can make sure they retain the skills/information.

    -Cliff

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by skammer
    I have been asked to put on a 2 day survival camp for kids aged 8-12.
    I have taught the Hug A Tree program before but this is much more in depth.
    Any ideas as to what can be educational, fun and teach very basic skills to kids?
    Their attention span is pretty short say 30 mins.
    How do I fill say 6 hrs I have a gap for?


    Skam
    - No Trace Camping
    -7 enemies of survival
    -S: stop
    T: think
    O: observe
    P: Plan

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheung_victor
    - No Trace Camping
    -7 enemies of survival
    -S: stop
    T: think
    O: observe
    P: Plan

    Good ideas vic

    Its hard sometimes to tread lightly when teaching survival but we do our best as its not camping.

    Skam

  12. #12
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    Survival hike

    I used to do a survival hike with kids. We started with a short discussion about shelter, fire, signaling...

    Then we would imagine the bus crashed and we had to walk out for help. I had a box of things that they could choose from and certain items that I reqired they bring. As we began I would blindfold some and do the trust hike by having a 'sighted' one lead them. We would get to a place and I would tell them to make a shelter for 'the night' and get a fire started. If time permits maybe boil water. We would then walk farther and roleplay that one had broken a leg. Have the kids build a stretcher out of a blanket and two long sticks. As we got to a field or opening they 'would hear a helicopter coming' and had to create a signal in order to be rescued. All of this takes basic skills that your age group will be aable to handle. The group co-operation is the tuff thing to get started sometimes. It may take time for them to figure out who their leader is.

    You can help with discovering the leader by doing some basic games at the begining to get thier attention. Like everyone over a rope tied between two trees without touching it. If one touches the rope going over they all go back and start over. Make it about chest high on one of the average sized kids. A leader will appear but may not be recognized by the others yet.

    Items in the box: Blanket, firstaid kit, matches, cooking pot, rope, candybars, waterjug, whistles, tarp, sleeping bag, trashbags... and maybe some things that don't make sense to us but the kids may take just because like a gameboy, books or pencils... Have more items than kids and tell them that they have to bring the matches, blanket (stretcher they won't know this yet) and each kid can only take one items having to leave some behind. Have them discuss why they are bringing the items that they have chosen.

    Badge54
    Last edited by Badge54; 11-13-2005 at 08:48 PM.

  13. #13
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    Web of Life

    I also would do an exercise about the ecosystem with a long piece of kite string. Have all the kids sit in a circle. Start a discussion about how all thing rely on eachother to be in balance. Ask them what the bottom of the food chain is, start around bugs or grass, give the end of the string to the kid that gets it started. Add things and animals as you go up the food chain. As each kid gets the next item have them hold the string and then pass to the next. It will begin to look like a web. This is the 'Web of Life" Once all of them have a piece to hold ask what happens if we take something out of the web like the grass, each of the thing around it become affected because one does not have it's predator and the other does not have it's food. They then drop thier strings if they are affected and so on. Until the kids get the concept that all thing rely upon eachother for a balance.

    Badge54
    Last edited by Badge54; 11-13-2005 at 08:48 PM.

  14. #14
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    Tracks and Scat

    I loved taking them out looking for tracks and scat. On more than one occasion I would do the old scat lecture. Find some tracks and talk about what you can learn from them. Have them imagine where the animal came from maybe it's fedding area or bedding area. Then look for scat. One you 'find' a pile have them all come to look. Talk about how you can tell what an animal has been eating by examining the scat. Pick it up and smell it, roll it around and then pop it in your mouth. The trick being that you secretly brought a box of raisins or choclate covered peanuts. This is usually done at the end of the day beacuse it will take some time to gather them as they usually scatter at the thought that you just ate poop. Getting them to settle down after this is sometime pretty tuff.

    Badge54

  15. #15
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    Quiet time

    Sometimes you just need a little quiet time so I would spread the kids out in the woods so that they would not be close enough to talk. Have them sit as still as possible and listen to the woods. Have them look around and take note of all the things. Do this for 15 minutes or so. Then bring them in and discuss what they saw. Most will only think of the things like animal sounds and sightings. Ask about the trees, Could they see the wind, did they hear the wind, did they feel the wind. This may get them to open thier eyes about other things that they saw like leaves falling, the sun rays through the trees. This is good to do just before or after the Web of Life.

    Badge54

  16. #16
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    Scout and stalk.

    I play this one almost everytime I go to the woods with my kids. Have one student or parent start by finding a place to stand. Then have all the kids spread out about 10 yards out in a circle around the kid. Point at each kid one at a time and have them stalk the one in the middle. The one in the middle has to stand with a blindfold and point to the sound that they hear. If it comes from the one stalking have them freeze in place. Then point to another. Go random around the circle until all kids have gone. If no one touches the person they are stalking keep going by starting over where the kids were frozen at. Then switch.

    Try it in a field, the woods, in gravel, in the pines....

    Badge54

  17. #17
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    Edibles and snares,

    Of course if you are familiar enough or have time to scout the property you can point out some edibles on the way. We always encountered onion, carrots, Christmas fern, sasafrass, pine needles (tea), bugs... Sometimes I would also teach a snare and make one quickly with a simple trigger. I then would pull out a stuffed animal from my pack and make the kids promise not to tell 'someone that you pick' that I took their teddybear.(I used the camp director or head teacher from their school) I would then stick the head of the teddy bear into the snare and watch it fly up into the tree top.

    Of coures by dinner one of the kids will always tell the person that you 'stole' the teddybear from them and you could mock up a fight or just play it off as if the kids were lying. This sometime started a food fight so depending on where you are the fight may not be a good idea.

    Badge54

  18. #18
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    Skammer,

    I guess I could explain that in high school I went 4 years in a row with the 6th grade camp and had a cabin of kids for the week and led them on multiple hikes. After HS I went on to teach at an outdor education camp called Natures Classroom and I spent three summers as a Counselor with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Hocking County Ohio at Camp Oty'Okwa. This was between school years at College. I loved it, and wish that I could make money doing it for ever. My wife and I have often said if we ever won the lottery we would have a camp for children.

    I hope that some of these give you an idea or are somthing that you can use and I wish you luck with your project. Somtimes we are a little hesitant to step up and do but once you do and see the kids come together and get excited you will reap the reward.

    Badge54

    I feel like I took over the thread but I just got so excited, I wish I could go with you.

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