FREE Resources for Outdoor Survival Skills

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I grew up in the small towns of Western Montana. Our family went camping often, and my dad was always good about showing us some basic skills for camping out. I don’t think it ever crossed our minds that we would be lost and need to survive. We were pretty good at staying found by staying near the camp. We were lucky not to have been forced to survive on our own.

If you’ve been looking for some resources for teaching your children basic survival skills, or even more than basics skills, here are some resources to help you along. You might notice that many of the links are by Boy Scout troops or Scoutmasters. You can learn what they learn, even if you aren’t a scout! It’s good to be prepared!

Disclaimer: Use the advice and lesson plans on each website at your own risk. This blog post is simply a collection of websites and resources that appeared to be useful for teaching survival skills.

Literature as a Resource

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen

Brian is a 13-year-old boy (with a troubled family life) who finds himself surviving a plane crash and having to fend for himself until he is found.   The Art of Manliness has found 10 survival skills from the fictional story about wilderness survival that are truly useful in a real-life situation.   SparkNotes has a plot summary for you here.

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell

Karana is a girl, who by unusual circumstances, ends up alone to survive on a tropical island.  Here is a plot synopsis on Sparknotes.  My girls and I really enjoyed this book as a read-aloud.

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George

Sam runs away from home and chooses to live on his own in the Catskills. He lives off the land and learns to survive through the winter.

Use this lesson plan from Scholastic to do a study of the book.

Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George

When her life in her small, Eskimo village becomes dangerous, Julie runs away only to find herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness without food or even a compass to guide her. To survive, she copies the ways of a pack of wolves. The first in the Julie of the Wolves trilogy, this makes for fantastic adventure reading.

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Dafoe

This classic tale of shipwreck and survival on an uninhabited island is a thrilling read and a marvel in resourcefulness.

The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss

This classic adventure is full of resourceful characters. It’s “an irresistible tale of ingenuity” that young readers will enjoy.

Websites aimed at Kids and Survival

Exciting Scout Craft

A boy scout Scoutmaster gives advice and skill techniques, including the explanation of S.T.O.P., for being prepared if you get lost.

Gaelic Wolf Pack Survival Basics

Here is a suggested starting point for planning and organizing a survival camping trip. It is not intended as a syllabus, but rather a starting point.

Equipped to Survive

A Kid’s Wilderness Survival Primer contains basic info on how to pack a Wilderness Survival Pack for when kids will be out in the wild for hiking, camping, etc. It includes information on how to obtain a free special whistle to pack in the survival pack. A whistle is a very useful tool for letting searchers know where to find a lost child or adult. is a free resource for teachers and educators to broaden their knowledge base about the wilderness and land preservation.

Urban Survival Site

This post from is a condensed version of basic skills to teach your kids, including how to use a map and compass and how to find water. Along with some great tips, there are also handy YouTube tutorials for things like starting a fire and building a shelter.

The Survival Mom

This detailed collection from is an in-depth list of 32 different skills to teach kids how to do things like how to read the sky for directions and forage for food and medicinal plants. She includes some great book recommendations and lots of great information, broken down into categories that are easy to teach. This entire blog is a great resource for teaching survival skills.

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