Not long ago someone jokingly called my family preppers. It may have been meant as an insult, referencing zombie apocalypse or complete breakdown of society scenario, but when I thought about, we are preppers in a sense. No we aren't ready for zombies or nuclear war... somehow I doubt our tents, fire lighting kit, camp stoves and slingshot would really make the difference. But we are prepping our children, not for war and death (or undeath) but for life.
Camping, fishing, Bush craft and survival skills all give a child confidence. They encourage him or her to get outside and explore, to learn and ask questions. They break children away from what we not so jokingly refer to as electronic life support... the internet, and encourage them to get outdoors and get active. These activities prep a child for a healthy and active life. Many skills such as archery and knot tying increase dexterity. Putting up a tent can involve problem solving skills, all the more so if you use a Halfords tent (more on that in an upcoming post), and all of that activity can help children remain physically fit. I am also am a firm believer in the benefits of dirt, fresh air, exposure to every sort of plant, animal, insect and yes possibly a few pathogens in low doses from an early age. Children who grow up immersed in these things develop natural immunities. How often do you see a child with allergies on a farm?
Outdoor activities can serve as a catalyst for more traditional learning as well. My son's interest in outdoor skills. We have read book after book on scouting, outdoor skills, fire making, plant identification, map reading, plant identification and more. Many of the skills learned do transfer to other fields, plant identification may be helpful in biology, maps and orienteering use some maths skills, learning about fire making and fire myths has taught us about world cultures and most of all , all that reading is an excellent way to boost academic attainment.
But of all the skills my children have learned in the outdoors what I like most of all is "prepping" our family to remain close. My youngest spent an entire day alone with his father, something they would rarely do, just catching fish. The smiles and easy camaraderie between the two building bonds to last a lifetime. My oldest is in the teen years now. He still talks to me, but not as often, but sitting together beside a fire, we chatted happily for hours. I know things won't always be so easy, troubles will come as they age, and distances may appear between us when they grow up. But the time around the campfire, telling stories in tents and even in the complete disaster of the worst tent ever, these all make memories, they forge connections and hopefully prep our family to remain close and loving for life.