Posts Tagged With: self-reliance skills for kids

How to Extinguish Your Child’s Fear of Fire with a Single Match

by Todd Walker

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Last summer I took my 7-year-old grandson to my shelter in the woods for a little dirt time and some quality Pops and Max bonding. We gathered up some dry material for our campfire. We laid everything out in three piles; tinder, kindling, and fuel.

It never crossed my mind to warn Max about the shower of sparks that was about to rain down on the volleyball-size tinder bundle.

“Whoa! Whoa!” he panicked and scurried away from the area.

Granted, the big ferro rod I use is like watching fireworks explode. But once the fire was going, Max found it difficult to even stand near the small campfire without some reassurance and coaxing.

He was down right scared of fire.

The “Stop, Drop, and Roll” fire safety campaign in school showed how fire could destroy your house, your family, pets, and even you. An irrational fear of this wonderful tool of self-reliance smoldered within his psyche.

How could I help him learn to use fire safely and overcome his fear?

A Bright Idea with Matches

Matches light birthday candles. That’s a happy time, right?

One reason Max (and maybe your child) was afraid of fire is that no one had taken time to teach him how to safely strike a match. We stepped out back to Pops Shop, pulled up two stumps, and opened a box of kitchen matches.

As adults, use the E.D.I. approach… Educate: teach the skill and cover safety concerns, Demonstrate: doing the stuff yourself, Imitate: allow your child to imitate the skill).

Steps to Safely Strike a Match for Beginners

Ask your child if they’ve ever attended a birthday party where the cake exploded into flames and burned the house down. It sounds silly but your child needs to make the connection between a controlled fire that is useful and the potential danger of unattended flames.

Step 1: Educate – The Fire Triangle

Introduce the Fire Triangle.

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Every fire must have these three elements

For a match to burn, the three sides of the triangle have to be complete… heat (ignition source – friction), oxygen (air), and fuel (the wooden match stick). Fire and heat rise. The flame will not suddenly run down the match stick and burn your fingers.

Step 2: Demonstrate

Find a spot that isn’t windy, indoors or out, strike a match and hold it vertically for your child to observe. He will notice that the flame will burn a short time in a vertical position before going out.

Now have your child hold an unlit match vertically. Light another match and hold it vertically next to your child’s match head until his ignites. Have your child hold steady and watch his match extinguish in a swirl of smoke.

Repeat the process with two new matches. Next, have your child hold the match horizontally once it is lit. The flame will slowly burn towards his fingers in a controlled manner. About halfway to his finger tips, have him blow it out like a birthday candle.

It’s likely he will feel the warmth of the flame on his finger tips. That’s good. Ask him if he was burned or in pain.

Safety Note: Be sure the demonstration area is clear of flammable material. Use a metal bucket or dinner plate to discard the spent matches. A child may panic and toss the burning match to the floor or ground.

Step 3: Imitate

Now is the moment of truth. Will he strike his own match into flame?

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Max imitating

Give a brief demonstration of how to strike a match. Strike away from your body. This was a bit awkward for me as I’m used to striking towards my body and cupping the burning match to create a wind screen.

Use wooden kitchen matches because they are more sturdy, longer, and easier to strike for beginners than short wooden matches and paper matches.

Have your child hold the non-flammable end between his thumb and middle finger. Move his index finger down the match stick to apply pressure on the match head as it passes over the striker strip of the closed match box. Make sure he understands to move his index finger down towards the non-burning end after ignition. Just saying.

Max tried and failed his first few attempts. He was using a poor angle with the match head on its side. Coach your child to hold the match at just under a 90 degree angle and perpendicular to the striker strip.

This process is simple for adults. But remember, your teaching a child who has never lit a match.

Make sure that he holds the box firmly and strikes the match away from his body. I suggested that Max prop the corner of the match box on a solid surface for added support. The last thing you want is for a piece of burning match head to land on his body and further burn the fear of fire in his mind.

Use as many matches as needed for your child to achieve ignition. Once he succeeds, have him hold the match vertically until it burns out on its own. Then repeat until he’s comfortable.

Be generous with the high-fives and fist bumps!

Allow him to practice his new-found skill. Have him hold the burning match horizontally and explain that this technique is used to light a campfire. *Hint, hint*

With supervised practice and coaching, Max burned through half a box of matches building fire craft skills and destroying his fear of fire.

Pops, can we go to our shelter and build a campfire? I want to cook some noodles.”

Load up, bud!

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Lighting his tinder bundle

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Letting his fire eat

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Enjoying his Ramen noodles we prepared over the campfire he built!

Not much is more beautiful in our world than cooking Ramen noodles over a fire my grandson built!

Check him out on our video. He is now known as Max “Fire” Walker…

Click here for more on our Boomproof Fire Craft Series.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Tips to Cure Nature Deficit Disorder in Your Child

by Todd Walker

nature-deficit-disorder-cure

I couldn’t believe what my former middle school student told me in Science class!

“You grow meat in the ground.”

Not believing his jaw-dropping ignorance, I fought back the urge to laugh because he was dead serious. Clearly, “No Child Left Behind” wasn’t working. We’re all ignorant on certain subjects, but growing meat in the ground!?

His alienation from the wonders nature was all too evident… and alarming… as he truly believed his description… “They (rancher-farmer) buy meat, like rib eye, unwrap the plastic, and bury the steak in the ground like you would garden seeds. It grows and farmers pick it, re-wrap it in plastic and people buy it in the grocery store.”

I wish it weren’t true, but this conversation happened.

Then the sad OMG! truth crashed into my brain cells like a runaway locomotive…

He’d never been to a farm, let alone, camped in the woods overnight. Ever. The complete lack of experiencing the great outdoors firsthand is at epic levels. How did we fall so quickly from the self-reliance wagon in this country?

Pinpointing the cause is an exhaustive exercise for a later time.

What matters now is one child – your child.

Nature Deficit Disorder

As a whole, our younger generation doesn’t get out much except to hang out at the video store in the mall and show off their virtual skills to impress other pre-pubescent gamers. Our children have lost a vital, primal connection with nature. They suffer from a condition called Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD).

This condition, coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, is a result of our plugged-in culture which keeps kids and adults indoors. The disconnect from nature goes against what human brains are hard-wired to experience… the Great Outdoors!

Research shows that children who learn and play outdoors are enriched personally and academically in many ways:

  • Improved attention spans
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Increased academic success
  • Improved reading comprehension
  • Higher levels of self-discipline, language and social skills

The cure for NDD is simple. Get outside.

“It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.” – HORACE KEPHART, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917 (Quote from Master Woodsman page)

From personal experience with my grandson, introducing him to woodcraft and bushcraft skills created a hunger to get outside. After his first hike to my personal space in the woods, he was noticeably anxious. Within 15 minutes of setting up camp, he turns to me and says, “Ya know, Pops, I don’t feel so scared now.”

nature-deficit-disorder-cure

Max eating his first camp meal and making memories

Today, Max willingly trades video screens for streams. He’s taken a strong interest in the wonders of nature and building outdoor self-reliance skills. So much so that he’s joined a local Boy Scout troop. His wild journey has begun.

“Keep close to nature’s heart and break clear away once in a while and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean” ~John Muir

Won By One: Doing the Wild Stuff 

Kids today need one person in their life to help them connect to their true nature. They’re waiting to be Won by One. Who’s that One person?

You are!

Yep. Even if you have little to no experience outdoors, your child will respond if you lead, initiate, and unplug.

I’m developing a program called “Doing the Wild Stuff” to help students in my school escape their sterile block walls and learn in a natural environment. I’ll update you as it progresses. For now, let’s take this to a personal level – you and your child.

With holidays approaching, hopefully you’ll have extra time to start curing your child’s NDD. The first cure is as close as your backyard. And the good news is that you don’t need any specialized equipment or expensive gear to get started.

Cure #1: Backyard Bushcraft

Carve out a space in your backyard designated for practicing woodcraft/bushcraft skills. Fire craft is an essential skill every child should learn. Build a fire pit or use a charcoal grill. The fire ring will quickly become the ‘operating table’ for your NDD clinic.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Our son’s first bow drill ember at the backyard fire pit

Once you’ve honed your fire skills, plan a backyard campout. That’s the beauty of backyard camping, the backdoor increases the comfort level for newbie campers.

Cure #2: Tools 

Kids love tools. The biggest hurdle may be your own fear of your child using sharp stuff. Knives, axes, and saws are essential tools for building outdoor self-reliance skills.

Only you know the maturity level of you child. She may not be ready to carry her own knife without supervision. Until then, model proper technique and safety rules for him/her.

Emphasize these rules:

  1. Never use a cutting tool inside the triangle of death. When cutting or whittling wood, work with the cutting surface outside the legs, never inside the triangle from the knees to the crotch.
  2. Be aware of the blood circle. Make a wide arch with your outstretched arm in a circular motion. If another person is within that circle, it is not safe to work with the cutting tool.
  3. A dull knife is a dangerous knife. More pressure is required to cut with dull tools. This only increases the chances of accidents when cutting stuff. Sharpening and caring for cutting tools is a can be taught… even to young learners. [for a progression of knife use, see Jack’s video below]
  4. Ax safety when processing wood.

Cure #3: Take a Class

If it’s in your budget, take a wilderness survival class with your child. Money well spent if you choose a reputable instructor or school.

Photo credit ~ Iris Canterbury

Photo credit ~ Iris Canterbury

I smiled when I saw kids attending The Pathfinder School Basic Class last month with their dads and even a few granddads. They learned knife skills, foraging, fire craft, and other wilderness survival skills together and bonding over campfires. The experience is priceless!

Cure #4: Schedule Outdoor Adventures

Make a date with your child on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to get outside. Plan surprise doses of adventure in the city park, backyard, or state/national parks. Where ever nature is available, get out there!

Cure #5: Field Guides

Take a field guide and journal on adventures. Field guides are available covering a variety of outdoor interests like animals, birds, reptiles, plants, and trees. Sit quietly and observe nature and reference the guide to help identify what you’ve seen.

Jot down notes and sketches in your outdoor journal. A journal helps personalize outings, reinforces knowledge, and maps available resources. Can you remember the exact location of that patch of wild edibles you noticed while trekking? Jot it down in your journal.

Though Nature Deficit Disorder isn’t an official medical condition, it describes perfectly the costs of our modern disconnect with nature. When sitting around the Thanksgiving feast with your family in later years, your children and grandchildren won’t remember their best day of television. They will, however, remember the times you spent curing their NDD.

I leave you with a young man I admire for his adventuresome spirit and commitment to Doing the Wild Stuff.

Check out Jack on his YouTube channel Self Reliance Kid.

You won’t find WiFi in the wilderness… but be assured… you’ll be well-connected!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

by Todd Walker

Doing the Stuff of self-reliance takes time, resources, tools, and want to. More important than any of these is ACTION! With only 24 hours in a day, you can’t always trek to your personal space in the woods to practice wilderness living skills. Hectic schedules and time constraints eat away at your availability.

You’re family needs quality time… and no, staring at the TV or computer screen doesn’t count. No better way to hang out with your loved ones, even the indoor-lover, than to introduce them to outdoor self-reliance skills in a controlled setting. Your adventures await one step over your door sill – no wilderness required!

backyard-bushcraft

Our Self-Reliant Summer series is intended to keep us motivated with common sense ideas for Doing the Stuff. Stay with us to learn how to strike self-reliance gold in your backyard.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

It would be great if we all had a picturesque wilderness for a backyard. That’s not likely. Driving hours to reach one is not practical for busy people. The solution is to bloom where you’re planted.

Fire Pits and BBQ Grills!

Making fire is a critical skill many of us take for granted. In ideal conditions, fire may be easy. Just flick your Bic and, poof, you have flames. It’s wise to practice several ways to achieve a sustainable fire.

backyard-bushcraft

A BBQ grill is a good tool for practicing fire making!

Fire is simple. All that’s needed is…

  • Air
  • Heat
  • Fuel

These elements make up the fire triangle. Take away any one of these and you no longer have fire. Starve the fire of air and you’re making charred material for your next fire.

You can practice your fire making skills with the available resources out back. No wood? No problem. Dirt Road Girl and I are known to walk our neighborhood, wagon in tow, collecting dead wood conveniently stacked at the edge of neighbor’s yards. We get our walk in and employ our possum mentality for free resources.

Fire Project 1: Make char cloth and charred material.

Fire Project 2: Practice making fire using different methods: friction (bow drill or hand drill), heat (fresnel lens, lighter, matches, etc.), and sparks (ferro rod, flint and steel). You’ll need your homemade char material for the flint and steel.

backyard-bushcraft

Our son’s first friction fire on the back patio

Fire Project 3: Make a fire from one stick only.

If you’re neighborhood allows open fires in a fire pit, consider building or buying one. If not, practice inside a charcoal or gas grill. If grills aren’t allowed, call the moving van! Build fires directly on the grill grate or use a board or other flat object as a support.

Be curious. Try new tinder materials. I discovered an excellent coal extender growing on beech trees near my shelter. [That’s me – two photos up – at the Weber grill lighting dry sooty mold from a Beech tree with a ferro rod]

What’s for Dinner?

After building a fire, why not use it to practice cooking over an open flame. Since you’re in the backyard and conveyance is not an issue, break out that cast iron dutch oven granny passed down to you. Once your fire burns down a bit, suspend the pot over a bed of coals with a bushcraft tripod. Experiment with cooking methods other than stabbing a tube steak on the end of a stick.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Campfire chili!

Practice using twig stoves like the Emberlit. A handful of twigs can boil water for a pre-packaged meal in a stainless steel camp cup.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

‘Toby’ the pig helping me make some mullein tea with a backyard bushcraft setup

Tied in Knots

Do you remember how to tie that nifty knot you saw on YouTube? Probably not. Find two trees in the yard and practice tying out your tarp and hammock. Repetition is the mother of all learning.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Dirt Road Girl and Abby testing knots

Basic knots should become second-hand. You won’t need to know 41 knots to enjoy a camping trip. Knowing a few simple knots will save you time and cordage.

The knots I use most while bushcrafting are the timber hitch, trucker’s hitch, blood knot, bowline, clove hitch, and prussic loop. Learn knots with a specific purpose and tie them repeatedly until you’re able to do so even in the dark.

Sharp Skills

The cutting tool is fundamental for bushcraft. Safe use of knives, saws, and axes should be learned before heading to the big boy woods. The backyard is the perfect classroom.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

Teaching ax safety to my grandson

Wielding sharp tools has risks. You never really know your cutting tool personally until it bites you. Accidents happen to even the most skilled bushcrafter. Practicing in a controlled setting like your backyard builds confidence and skills for times when your life may one day depend upon sharp stuff. Plus, first aid is close by.

Sharp Skill 1: Make a feather stick for your backyard fire. Bracing your knife against your knee with the cutting edge facing away from your body, pull a piece of wood towards your body to curl shavings on the stick. You can also place the stick on another wooden surface (anvil) and slice curls using the full length of the blade.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Fatwood feather stick and shavings

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Fatwood shavings lit with a ferro rod

Sharp Skill 2: To baton your knife is a personal choice. This skill is useful when a camp ax is not available. This method can produce pencil lead size, pencil size, thumb size, and larger fuel from logs. I prefer batoning for the one stick challenge and when creating bow drill sets. More precision in woodcraft can be achieved by practicing your preferred method.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Processing the round via the baton method

Sharp Skill 3: Notches add stability when joining and lashing woodcraft items. They’re also essential for the hearth board on your bow drill fire set. Carving pot hooks is another way to learn knife skills while making functional tools for the backyard fire pit.

Got Cover?

There may not be enough resources to build a debris hut out by the kids swing set, but you can practice tarp and tent set up.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Tarp and hammock set up

Shelter options can be an affordable tarp or poncho. Start with the resources you have. Practice different cover configurations to find out what works for different situations.

Sticks and Strings (Archery)

Archery has been given a huge boost by the recent Hunger Games books and movies. Capitalize on the interest with your children or grandchildren.

backyard-bushcraft

Killing spuds in our backyard

Archery has been practiced for thousands of years by hunter-gatherers, indigenous groups, and self-reliant folk. This tool can be used for harvesting game quietly and an effective addition to your arsenal. The place to hone this skill is in the backyard. Once hooked on stick and string, you and your entire family can enjoy this as a family sport while building outdoor self-reliance skills.

Make Your Own Stuff

Simple machines in bushcraft can be used to build stuff to aid in self-reliance. Here are three projects that are doable in the backyard.

Project 1: Build a simple cooking tripod for your backyard kitchen.

Project 2: Torches. Gotta have torches. Kid’s love them and they’re fun to build!

  • How to make a fatwood torch
  • Miner’s torch (pictured below) made of a dried mullein stalk and soy wax (pine sap or tallow can also be used) – Warning: burning close the base of the seed head will burn through the stalk quickly
backyard-bushcraft

Mullein torch

Project 3: Make a bow drill set from one piece of poplar or other suitable wood

backyard-bushcraft

A bow drill set crafted from one piece of tulip poplar

Eat the Yard

Every backyard lawn has weeds. Learning to safely identify wild edibles for nutrition and medicine is smart. Like every other skill mentioned above, wildcrafting can be done close to home. We place value on what we name. Before I knew the name of Mullein, it was just a weed growing along the fence row of our pasture. Now it’s a valued item with many uses.

There are many resources available to help you identify wild edibles. One that I’ve found most helpful is The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer. Thayer didn’t just regurgitate what other authors wrote about, he spent years of actually Doing the Stuff in the field of wild edibles.

You can check out our Foraging Feral Food page and Herbal Medicine Kit series if you’d like to dig deeper into wildcrafting.

Doing the Stuff of self-reliance should start in your backyard. 17th and 18th century woodsmen forged their skills close to home. Owning these essential skills was necessary to survive the wilderness treks with minimal gear. That’s the essence of bushcraft – dependence on skills more so than the latest shiny object and technological gadget.

What happens when technology fails? Hopefully your skills will get you through. Your journey to self-reliance starts in your own backyard!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Categories: Bushcraft, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 31 Comments

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

by Todd Walker

The thought of a second grader even touching an razor-sharp ax is horrifying to modern helicopter parents… and probably illegal in some jurisdictions! If so, please don’t share this.

Yesterday was one of the best days yet in my young grandfathering career! Our daughter and grandson came over to hang out and hit up our local farmer’s market for some naturally grown produce. Afterwards we played several rounds of Eye Spy at a local restaurant, ate lunch together and headed home. Max slumped in a patio chair and said what every young video gamer has running through their mind when their electronic device is not in their hands…

“There’s nothing to do.” *Sigh*

That’s all I needed to hear!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

I’m bored!

Like most school children today, our grandson had a fear of sharp, pointy stuff ingrained in his psyche within two years of public schooling. The NO WEAPONS mantra had stuck in his pliable mind. Knives, axes, and most of all – guns! These menacing, inanimate objects are inherently evil and must be avoided. Granted, these tools should not be left in the path of toddlers. This begs the question, what age is appropriate to begin training children to use a knife or ax?

You’re no stranger to the No Weapons Zone signs if your kids are school age. Yes, all these tools can be weapons. Yellow school buses and SUV’s possess the same ability.

But here’s the thing… the intent of the user is what matters. Even with the purest intentions, accidents happen. All the more reason to introduce safe handling and respect for these tools to the next generation at an early age.

Under proper supervision and training, Max discovered that my camp ax is a useful cutting tool – not the vicious weapon portrayed in Kindergarten circle time.

As a prepared parent or grandparent, you have to decide the appropriate age to begin training your children to use sharp stuff. There’s no magical age. We’re all individuals. Move slowly and follow their curiosity and maturity level. My children didn’t come with a user’s manual. You just have to figure it out as you go.

It’s my hope that these tips will help train our next generation to begin Doing the Stuff with the tools of our trade.

Fear Factor

While demonstrating my DiY Survival Sling Shot at our backyard, Max was afraid to try it out. He told me that he knew what those things were called, pointing my bag of ammo.

“What?” I asked.

“Bullets.”

“No buddy, these are ball bearings.”

“Well, they look like bullets,” he assured me.

My explanation of “bullets” gave him enough confidence to pull the sling without the “bullet” misfiring in his hand. He fired a few rounds and hit the target.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

Taking aim!

Fear is overcome easily with truth and patience. Our body follows our mind (thoughts). An elementary physics lesson on what made bullets (or any object) move was all it took. I shot a pebble to prove the point.

Safety First

Obviously, safety of the child and bystanders is paramount when using projectiles or cutting tools! Our next skill came about through his curiosity of an ax in my shop.

Here’s a few tips I hope you find helpful for introducing your child to cutting tools.

First, allow the child to hold the ax with the bit (sharp edge) in the sheath or mask. I used my Backcountry Ax with a 16 inch handle. Take a moment to point out that the bit will bite and that axes should always be sheathed until they are ready to be used. Allow your child to hold the ax on their own strength under constant supervision. If they struggle to hold the tool steady, find a lighter ax or hatchet.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

The Eastwing hatchet (at the bottom of the pic) is a few inches shorter than the Backcountry Max used and has a smaller handle grip.

Now, while you hold the tool, remove the mask to reveal the ax head. Explain the purpose of the cutting tool. No need to go into the history of axes. A few sentences will do for short attention spans.

Next, demonstrate proper technique on a wood anvil (chopping block) with your work space cleared of obstructions and tripping hazards. Find an anvil about waist-high to your child when he/she is kneeling. Always use a kneeling position when spitting wood with a short ax. If you miss the target in the standing position, the arc of the ax may find your shin. By kneeling, you increase the swing radius of the ax from the pivot point of your body.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

I modified the wood by cutting it into 4 inch lengths to make splitting easier.

Short Cuts

For young beginners, saw a wood round into 3 to 4 inch sections. I let Max strike a 12″ piece with no noticeable results. I ran into my shop and chopped a few pieces with my miter saw. You want them to have success and see the results as they learn a new skill. Seeing wood fly is very motivating!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

Explain the importance of placing the round to be split at the back edge of the anvil. Above I demonstrate the danger of swinging too closely on the near edge of the anvil.

Now assist them in their first swing with the ax. Have them swing at a spot on the back half of an empty anvil. The ax will get stuck in the anvil if enough force is applied on the down swing. Push down and pull up on the ax handle in a controlled movement to loosen and remove the ax.

IMG_0500

When you’re comfortable that they’re able to strike a target on the anvil with assistance, allow him to try a 90º swing on his own – with very close supervision. Repeat several times until accuracy improves.

Now place a short round on the back half of the anvil. This is where the fun begins! On his first strike, the ax head got stuck in the round. I had him raise the ax with the round still attached and swing it back down on the anvil. It worked. The wood split!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

And he scores!!

He was so excited and amazed at what he’d just done. His next round split with his first swing… even more excitement! After carefully placing the ax on the ground, he ran to show his mom and DRG pieces of split wood.

As a reminder of this right-of-passage, his skillful work is proudly displayed on our fridge.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

Fridge worthy wood!

I’ll give you one guess as to what he wants now instead of a bow and arrow set. Ha! He’s got a lot of learning and maturing to do before he gets his first hatchet. My father gave me my first folding knife when I was seven. I learned some valuable lessons that year and still sport a puncture wound scar in my left forearm for doing what I was told not to do while unsupervised.

Please use your best judgement when teaching Doing the Stuff skills to children. Scrapes, cuts and bruises happen as they learn. But with proper training, serious injuries can be avoided – and traditional knowledge gets passed on.

For more articles related to kids and self-reliance, check out these Trusted Resources:

Here’s two questions for you: A) When did you receive your first cutting tool? B) What do you consider to be the top 5 skills children need to for self-reliance? I’d like to put together a summer series on self-reliance skills for kids. Your thoughts and input are really appreciated!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Education, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

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