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We love to read adventure books, especially books where the hero has to use his wits to survive in a hostile environment. My husband grew up reading those kinds of books and even now he dreams of surviving alone for a year in the wilderness with only those supplies he can carry in on his back (I know, he’s a little odd).
He says he wants our boys to look at hardship as an adventure to be lived and not as a calamity to be endured. In a day where the art of manliness is missing in most young men, we want our sons to rise to the occasion and be a man when the going gets tough. Pity the child, or the man, who considers being cut off from the local deli or the internet, a hardship.
And though we hope it will never happen to one of our children, should they find themselves unexpectedly thrown into a survival situation, we know that they will be better prepared having read survival books. It has been proven that attitude plays a large role in the outcome of such situations, so it’s good to know that we’re giving our children the confidence that might make the difference between life and death.
Through the years, we’ve also given them gifts that have to do with survival so that they are prepared not only with confidence but with the skills necessary to make it on their own. Here are some of our favorites. (Of course, you will want to take into consideration the age and maturity of your child.)
Of course, after reading Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, the boys wanted their own hatchet. After a lot of research, my husband decided on this one. This is a high quality hatchet that will last a lifetime. This is a also a great tool to have along on camping trips.
A magnesium fire starter might seem like a simple gift, but our boys have really enjoyed this. It takes a lot of skill to be able to start a fire with one of these, and our boys have enjoyed practicing. But unlike matches, water will not affect their usefulness. So send your boys into the woods (or back yard) with a flint and steel and ask them to start a fire with only the fuel they find in the woods. They will have the know-how to start a fire in the wilds.
A compass is one tool that everybody should know how to use. It’s an important tool to carry with you in case you get lost. Even our youngest son enjoyed carrying his around everywhere, even on trips, and announcing which direction we were traveling. I have a very poor sense of direction so I can see the value in developing a sense of direction while still young. My husband has a good sense of direction in the wilds, but even he has gone into swamps where he would never have been able to keep his sense of direction without his compass.
This survival bracelet has it all. Or it least some of the most important things needed for survival. A fire starter, a compass, parachute cord, and a self-defense or rescue whistle. Parachute cord is an indispensable addition to any camping/roughing-it trip or survival. Parachute 550 cord is thin, will not mold and will hold 550 pounds. The inside strands are very thin and can be taken out to make excellent fishing line. It can be tightly wound around a piece of metal to make a knife handle. We have a thousand-foot roll that we find very useful even in non-survival situations.
Every kid wants a pocket knife. After examining a lot of different knives, we settled on this Swiss army knife. It is supposed to be good for whittling, too. Just make sure your kids are old enough for this and talk to them about knife safety or you might be making an emergency trip to the ER on Christmas Eve. (It all turned out okay in the end and we ended up not even getting our son admitted, but it was a little scary.)
Don’t forget to include a knife sharpener along with the pocket knife. This is a great little sharpener that’s made to carry along with you. It includes a carbide blade for dull or damaged knifes and a ceramic blade for a razor sharp edge.
You might also like to include some practical books on how to survive. My husband and I have different opinions on this book. He says it covers too much material with not enough depth, but I haven’t seen a boy yet that isn’t fascinated with it. It’s probably been one of our most loaned-out books, since visiting children love to look at it. If you’re looking for more in depth survival, consider the next book.
This book, while not as flashy as the previous book, has a lot of practical advice and it’s rugged cover is made to carry with you anywhere you go. It is full of useful tips for surviving anywhere and interesting bits of information. Did you know that you will starve eating only rabbit meat? Or that most insects are high in fat and protein and are a good source of nourishment? The author of this book claims that most of the people who starve to death (in survival situations) do so because of squeamishness.