This survival skills for kids – Fire Starting Challenge has been a HUGE hit with my tween and teen and they’ve been asking to do it again and again ever since! It’s a fantastic way to get big kids unplugged, outside and enjoying nature, all whilst developing important, potentially life saving, skills.
I set my kids the challenge of making a fire (no matches or gas lighter allowed) and to really give them a sense of “surviving” and to make it a more meaningful experience they had to use that fire to cook lunch.
No Fire = No Cooking = No Lunch!
There’s nothing like an empty stomach for motivation!
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The Importance Of Survival Skills For Kids
Our enthusiasm for bushcraft skills was recently sparked when we had the honour to meet and interview real life explorer and survivor Ed Stafford. Chatting with Ed got us thinking about our ability to survive if the unthinkable should ever happen.
I quickly realised that I wasn’t equipped, and therefore I hadn’t equipped my kids, with the knowledge needed to survive if disaster struck and the comforts of our day to day life were stripped from us. I also realised that I certainly hadn’t equipped the kids to cope if, heaven forbid, we were caught away from safety and something happened to me!
Would they know what to do if we were stuck in a snowstorm? Would they know how to keep warm or cool if we had to remain without shelter for a few days? Could they find, hunt or catch food and water if they had no supplies? The answer to all of these and many more was a HUGE NO!!!
BUT…I am striving to turn that around by learning and teaching the kids basic wilderness survival skills that could one day save our lives.
Not only are bush crafts super important skills to know but fun survival challenges like this are a fantastic way to get big kids unplugged from technology, outside and engaged with nature.
Survival Skills For Kids – Fire Starting Challenge
As fire is a fundamental wilderness skill I thought that was a great place to start the kids’ introduction to bushcrafts. Fire can keep us warm, dry our clothes, cook our food, purify our water and may even deters wild animals. It could also possibly be used to signal for help too!
There are lots of different ways to start a fire and I hope to introduce my kids to them all over time but to begin with we started with the rod and striker method.
I treated my kids to an amazing Survival Kit US / UK which has so many great things we’re going to enjoy using. One of them is a Paracord Rod and Striker Bracelet US / UK which you can buy seperately too and which is totally cool enough for boys and girls to wear.
Supplies For Fire Starting Challenge
How To Set Up A Fire Starting Challenge
I really wanted the kids to feel the urgency of needing to make a fire if they wanted to eat so I chose sausages for their food because they’re easy to cook but can’t be eaten raw and I drove the kids to a nearby wood to carry out the challenge so they didn’t have the back up of the kitchen stove! They knew that they needed to find a safe open but sheltered spot and actually chose to do it on a little beach area next to a small lake so that they had water available to extinguish the fire if needed. The kids then set to work looking for tinder and kindling. They chose some dry fluffy catkins for tinder and broke up some little sticks for kindling. It was the kids first time using a rod and steel fire starter and it took them about 30 minutes to get their fire going, which for a first attempt was pretty impressive I thought.
We are having a survival challenge day today and it is so much fun! The boys have a disposable BBQ and sausages but can only light the BBQ by making a little fire using a flint and steel fire striker. They’ve done it at last and lunch is now sizzling. I’d thoroughly recommend it as a great activity to engage tweens and teens. A photo posted by Emma Smith (@kidscraftroom) on
Once they had a small fire they used a burning stick to set the disposable BBQ alight to cook their sausages. Then they extinguished the little fire.
You may be wondering why the kids had to light a disposable BBQ rather than cooking their food on the actual fire. This was for two reasons. Firstly, as it was their first experience with a survival skills challenge I wasn’t sure how long their enthusiasm and interest would last. (It turns out I needn’t have worried about that at all! They’d have happily carried on all day!) Secondly, I wanted the survival challenge to be simple enough for them to definitely succeed. By using a BBQ they still had the challenge of making an actual fire to get it started but they didn’t need to worry about keeping the fire going for a long time and keeping it safely in control. By breaking down the challenge I knew they’d be enthusiastic to do more another day.
Next time I hope to extend the fire starting challenge and take them somewhere were they can have a full sized fire and actually cook their sausages on sticks over that. We’re thinking of heading to a beach at some point too so they have to search for dry driftwood and fight the wind and maybe even try out the fishing kit that came in their awesome survival kit.
The kids thoroughly enjoyed this fire starting challenge and loved sitting and eating the sausages they’d cooked with an immense sense of satisfaction. I can’t wait to introduce more survival skills for kids into our family life. I love finding new things that will engage the kids, get them unplugged from technology, get them outside breathing fresh air and engaging with nature, all whilst skill building too!