Summer Survival Skills

Summer is the perfect time to practice your survival skills and test your strength and stamina.

woman hiking in the hot blazing sun

Why? Because practicing primitive prepping skills during the summertime appears to be—and is—simply participating in common outdoor activities that many families enjoy during summer break. No one is the wiser you and your family are practicing self-sufficiency. It also allows for your children to get more involved since they have more time off. Further, kids can learn in a fun, no-pressure environment.

According to child psychologist Ken Hill, children as young as three years old understand what it means to be lost and can be taught what to do if they find themselves in that predicament. Camping, fishing, hiking and backpacking are the perfect opportunity to teach children (depending on age) how to meet their basic survival needs—starting a fire, finding or building shelter and procuring safe drinking water. Advanced skills you can teach include catching and trapping food, emergency signaling, navigating, outdoor cooking, primitive weapon making, first aid and identifying edible berries and plants. These skills don’t just teach your kids how to do these things, but also teaches them how to S.T.O.P—stop, think, observe and plan.

Practicing your survival skills in a controlled environment is a safe way to hone them and teach others. If something goes wrong, you can correct it or reach help quickly.


Family sitting around a bonfire with a green 12 Survivors tent in the foreground

Camping is the perfect all-around activity to practice building a shelter, primitive cooking, and starting a fire.

Camping is a good all-around practice in survival skills. You can build a shelter, cook, start fires multiple ways and collect and purify water. Camping is also a good reminder for the whole family how fun simple games and entertainment can be when there is no electricity. Camping, whether primitive or car camping is the perfect opportunity for everyone to practice their fire-starting skills. Bring matches, a lighter, magnesium fire starter, tinder, a magnifying glass, batteries and even work on the bow drill. Perfecting making a fire without a conventional lighter should be your top survival skill priority. Take a tarp and rope and have everyone in the family try their hand at constructing a shelter. Because you can pack more when car camping, you can decide if certain gear or gadgets are useless or useful and what helpful equipment you’re missing.

Plan a survival-themed scavenger hunt. Split your party or family into teams and have them find a good place to build a shelter, gather water and firewood, find an edible plant, etc. This keeps kids occupied and entertained during the day, as well as teaches them situational awareness and the skills they need if they ever find themselves lost or in an emergency.


Man fishing

Fishing is a relaxing way to connect with your family.

Using what you can find and your 12 Survivors Fish and Fire kit, construct a primitive fishing line and pole. This will be great practice in patience. Fish can be difficult to catch with even the most advanced setup. While waiting for a bite, you can discuss and teach alternative fishing methods like trout lines, limb lining and bow fishing—depending on the legalities in your jurisdiction. After (finally) catching dinner, teach the kiddos how to scale and cut a fish. Of course, starting a fire and cooking your fish is part of this lesson and half the fun! Fishing is a really good introduction to capturing and field dressing dinner before moving on to squirrels and other small game.


Backpacker sitting down reading a map

Learning how to read a map and a compass is an invaluable survival skill.

Grab your bug-out bags and go explore a local hiking trail. During the hike, you can practice navigating, identifying types of plants and berries, and learn how to ration drinking water properly. This is also a good trial run to see how much you can endure the weight of your pack, especially in extreme temperatures. Is it too heavy? Too light? How can you adapt it to utilize the space and weight better? Since it isn’t a real survival situation, practice finding, filtering and purifying water. This will help you figure which ways are most practical and efficient if you have an emergency.  Use varied methods of collecting and purifying like collecting dew in the morning and gathering water from condensation.


Backpacking, especially if you are going overnight, is the perfect time to assess your gear. On a long trail, you practice navigation, stamina, water procurement, starting a fire and cooking. Backpacking requires lightweight equipment, so everything you are working with is smaller and more challenging. This is an also an excellent opportunity to brush up on your navigation skills. Teach your children how to orient themselves and how to read a map and compass. While settling down at camp for the evening, whittle sticks and use vines to create a primitive spear for fishing and hunting.

Man starting a fire at a campsite

Learning how to start a fire is the number one survival skill you need to learn.


If you are a beginner to the outdoor lifestyle and prepping, don’t overdo it. Heading out on an overnight unfamiliar trail can end in disaster, even for the most experienced hiker. Know you and your families’ limits. You can learn plenty of new skills even if you aren’t going primitive. If you are more experienced, you can step your game by adding more nights to your hike than normal or take less gear to see how well you adapt. As always: tell someone where you are going, when to expect you back, pack plenty of water and keep your cell phone charged.

For more tips and suggestions on how to prepare for a safe hike, read ‘How to Build a First Aid Kit for Hiking.’

Do you train during the summer? Leave your tips and recommendations in the comment section.
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