I am just finishing a book titled “The Dumbest Generation” regarding the impact of technology on our children’s generation. The author sums up the incontrovertible truth: cyberculture is turning us into a society of know-nothings. While there are much farther reaching implications in this book, I will focus on the survival aspect in this article. What I can’t stop pondering is the reality defined in this book, coupled with the already existent lack of survival skills, especially amongst children within metropolitan areas.
Kids spend hours playing video games and Snapchatting. Few, minus those aspiring to Eagle Scout acquire any survival skills and would likely not survive without the internet. How many homes even own a physical book on Emergency Preparedness or Survival Skills? If they do, is the family putting in to practice the skills taught in these books?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, but with years of involvement in 4-H, Girls Scouts, Indian Princesses and years of camping, I acquired a moderate base of survival skills. My husband on the otherhand grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota and lived a lifetime acquiring homesteading and survival skills. No internet or digital devices existed, just plain and simple “learning how to do it” and “daily chores”. But then there is our generation’s children.
While we are what most would consider a “technology restricted” household with our children, there is too little time spent honing survival and homesteading skills outdoors. My husband is diligent in teaching them in the areas of shooting & marksmanship, plant identification, and generic handyman skills. Mom has also equipped them with some survival skills including First-Aid, herbal medicine, water filtration, and emergency food preparation. But even they have not had the oppportunity to really learn extensive homesteading skills beyond gardening and raising chickens (thanks to our closes friends that let us “chicken-sit” for them). Gardening (especially organic) is more than challenging in Florida- they have a far more viable skill to source food via fishing where we live. There are clearly areas for us to shore up in.
How many of us that are living in a metropolitan area are willing to walk away from our own computers and have our children put down their devices and equip them with what an Eagle Scout must do in order to attain the Wilderness Survival badge? Here is the list of badge requirements, and we know this is no where near enough for a true SHTF situation:
- Do the following:
- Explain the hazards you are most likely to encounter while participating in wilderness survival activities, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, or lessen these hazards.
- Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur in backcountry settings, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, blisters, insect stings, tick bites, and snakebites.
- From memory, list the seven priorities for survival in a backcountry or wilderness location. Explain the importance of each one.
- Discuss ways to avoid panic and maintain a high level of morale when lost, and explain why this is important.
- Describe the steps you would take to survive in the following conditions:
- Cold and snowy
- Wet (forest)
- Hot and dry (desert)
- Windy (mountains or plains)
- Water (ocean, lake, or river)
- Put together a personal survival kit and explain how each item in it could be useful.
- Using three different methods (other than matches), build and light three fires.
- Do the following:
- Show five different ways to attract attention when lost.
- Demonstrate how to use a signal mirror.
- Describe from memory five ground-to-air signals and tell what they mean.
- Improvise a natural shelter. For the purpose of this demonstration, use techniques that have little negative impact on the environment. Spend a night in your shelter.
- Explain how to protect yourself from insects, reptiles, and bears.
- Demonstrate three ways to treat water found in the outdoors to prepare it for drinking.
- Show that you know the proper clothing to wear in your area on an overnight in extremely hot weather and in extremely cold weather.
- Explain why it usually is not wise to eat edible wild plants or wildlife in a wilderness survival situation.
We, in the emergency preparedness community, are already aware of the metropolitan dangers in an emergency situation. I just wrote a post about how few of our neighbors and friends even have basic water and food supplies – in a major hurricane zone no less. But those of us that are educated and experienced have a far greater weight of responsibility.
I was personally challenged by the Eagle Scout list of responsibilities. We are purposing to put a plan together to further train our children. What if my husband and I are sick, incapacitated or dead in an emergency preparedness situation? Have you imparted the required knowledge to your children if they find themselves in the same situation?
All of us are faced with a self-preparedness legacy for which we are responsible. This used to happen naturally through the course of daily living, where children labored beside their parents at home. Now we must purpose to intentionally train and develop our children’s skills – all while limiting the distraction that the Digital Age presents.
I believe it is fair to say that our digital devices, while they can be an incredible resources for information, might also be one of our greatest distractions and stumbling blocks. Our children have achieved a good portion of the Eagle Scout list, but they will now complete it in entirety, and more. You will find this metropolitan family far more focused on being outside and working side by side, along with our local preparedness “team”, to develop life long skills to pass on through the generations.