Tag Archives: Life Skills

Boys in the Woods

Well my boys are reaching a milestone in their journey to manhood.  This winter they have been adventuring into the woods to practice survival skills they have learned.  The older three are 12, 14, and 16 and have been learning many survival skills over the past few years.  There is also a an 8 year old and 5 year old following in their foot steps.  They’ve learned how to pitch a tent, make fire, cook food, chop wood, use an ax, use a hatchet, make various knots, use tools, shoot bow and arrows, shoot a shot gun, butcher a deer, catch fish, and build a camp site.

Though they all enjoy being outside, the 14 year old is the most outdoor loving fella of the older three and his passion for nature has inspired the others.  You just can’t hardly keep him indoors.  He decided a few weeks ago that he wanted to start his own You-tube channel with his brothers, and he is still toying with the idea of writing a website.  He would love to write reviews of outdoor gear and tools and trucks if the opportunity opens up.

 

The boys have tossed around a few different names like the Horseless Cowboys,  the Backyard Boys, and Boys In The Woods.  Not sure what the final name will be just yet, but they plan to document their adventures. Some of their adventures are “in the woods” and some are “in the backyard”. Our yard is surrounded by woods, where one ends the other begins.  We also live about 1 mile from a lake where we enjoy fishing and hiking and playing at the park.  Still working on the name.  They decided to do a series called “Backyard Camping”.

His first video was walking the woods to locate the fallen tree he heard crash during a storm.  It was a fun adventure as he came to various fallen trees spread throughout the 8 acres we live on.  He also crossed a small stream and checked water depth along the path after the storm.

A few days later he went back into the woods to scout out a place for a camp site.  He found a couple locations he liked.  We went out and helped him clean up one of the locations, removing several layers of dead fallen leaves and some dead wood that was in the way.

This particular location gets a few minutes of morning sunshine currently as there are no leaves on the trees yet this time of year.  We are not sure if it will get any sun once the leaves return as it is a densely wooded location.  We are concerned about having a camp fire in that location , so for now, he must use the grassy area of the backyard for his campfires where it is safer. That’s one of the reasons he dedicated the series to backyard camping to inspire other kids to get outside and camp in their yard too.

The next video he made was about making a small bait trap at a nearby lake.  We took the boys to the lake to fish and we were able to buy worms, but the bait shop was out of minnows.

So he and his brother decided to catch their own minnows and small bait to fish.  They used a plastic bottle, pocket knife, a few rocks, a worm, and fishing line.  They created a trap to catch minnows and crawdads.

The next video he vlogged about making dry tinder to start a fire.  Then he showed how to use his striker and rod to create a spark to start the fire.

He built a spot to have a fire surrounded with rocks we have laying around in the woods.  They were very pretty rocks most of them being white quartz that is abundant everywhere.   Then he used his tinder and small branches and wood he chopped to create a camp fire.  Next on his camp fire embers he cooked his supper.  He cooked a can of beef noodle stew and boiled water in a steel cup to make chicken noodle soup.

At the end of the day, these boys are learning and practicing great skills for their future.  They are looking forward to their next outdoor adventure in the woods.

 

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Apple Pie at Homeschool Coop

My kids had a great time making homemade apple pies at the homeschool coop! They love to see friends and play games, but baking has a special place in their heart. They absolutely love to cook (not clean up dishes though), and I think baking is their favorite. When they heard we were going to bake apple pies, the were so excited, it is all they talked about for days.

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They washed and peeled lots of apples.  They peeled the apples with both a hand peeled, and a machine peeler.   For the hand peeler, they stood over the sink and their peelings dropped away as they scraped the peeler against the skin of the apple.  This was a lot of work, and fun to do with one apple, but their arms quickly became tired to do very many this way.   The machine peeler does three actions all at once as the children turn the handle.  It peels, cores, and slices the apple into long spiral slices and is called an Appel Peeler Corer Slicer.  It gets right to the point!  It seriously cuts the work of preparing apples into an easy task of just putting the apple on and turning the handle!

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The kids learned to make homemade pie crust from flour, water, and shortening.  They blended these together with a hand-held cutter.  As they pressed the cutter into the flour mixture, it broke it down into itty bitty pieces like small crumbs.  Eventually the whole thing works into a soft ball of dough almost like play dough.

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Next the kids rolled the dough out on the counter with a rolling-pin.  They placed extra flour on the surface of the counter so the dough would not stick and was easy to flip and turn to roll again.

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When the dough was thin enough, they placed the dough over their pie pan and cut away the excess that hung past the edge of the pan.  Then they learned to crimp the edge of the crust to make it look pretty and also to prevent shrinkage.

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Next they filled their pie shells with sliced apples, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, salt, and butter.  They rolled out more pie dough, and cut it with a pizza cutter into strips.  They topped the pies with strips of dough and made designs.  Some made a lattice design, others made their initials of their name, or some made hearts and others made butterflies, and one also topped their crust with a crumb topping and more cinnamon and sugar.  They could design the top however they wanted too.

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The pies baked in a hot oven at 375 degrees for about 35 to 45 minutes until they were golden brown. All of the pies turned out beautiful. Each one had a unique personal touch made by the kids.

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I loved seeing and smelling all of these pies baking at once. Thankfully we had two ovens available to bake all of these pies so they could finish about the same time.

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While the pies baked, the kids got all hot and sweaty in the gym. They actually took turns peeling apples, making dough, making pies, etc and the kitchen adjoins the gym, it so the kids played in the gym off and on between turns in the kitchen. This worked out perfectly! Man I wish I had a gym at home adjoining the kitchen! Just imagine all the pies and exercise we could get done!  Ha, ha!  I could go for a double oven baking area too!

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Huggies Little Snugglers At Target

Disclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Huggies & Target. I received samples for this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating and writing an honest review.

The kids and I recently took a trip to Target to buy Huggies Little Snugglers diapers for a review campaign.  If you haven’t tried Huggies diapers, I would encourage you to give them a try.

HUGGIES Little Snugglers Size 3

 

From One Momma To Another Momma:

I am the mom of six kids, and over the years I have made a lot of trips to the store for diapers.  I can tell you about the good and bad diaper purchases I have made, and the not so pleasant outcomes of choosing the wrong ones. I have too many “sad stories”or “funny stories” depending on your point of view, of cheap diapers that resulted in ooey gooey outcomes, but I will skip sharing the details.

Preemie Diaper

Huggies Little Snugglers hold up well to everyday use, they hold the contents (poop and pee) in well so it doesn’t end up on my shirt or pants or on my baby’s clothes.   Another great benefit using Huggies Little Snugglers is that they feel dry to the touch and keep the skin dry even after your baby has peed, and thankfully they are soft and have a cloth-like feel for sensitive skin.

Why are Huggies Little Snugglers great diapers?

*You get an extra layer of protection with the GentleAbsorb Liner for your baby’s delicate skin.
*GentleAbsorb Liner draws more mess away from the baby’s skin than other diapers.
*Soft, comfortable, cushiony layer of protection.
*A Wetness Indicator helps you keep track of wet diapers by changing color when wet.
*Pocketed back waistband to help keep in the runny mess
*Adorable graphics that feature Winnie the Pooh and friends on the diapers.
*The Huggies® Leak Lock® protection you can trust.
*They are available in various sizes from Premies up to Size 3.

So from one Momma to another Momma, I can tell you with confidence and lots of experience, that Huggies Little Snugglers are made with quality and you won’t be disappointed using them. I highly recommend these diapers! You can purchase these diapers in Target stores and at Target.com and have them shipped to your home for convenience too.

 

Our Trip To Target

Traveling to the store to pick up diapers and supplies is something our family has done automatically every week for the past 14 years. Fourteen years worth of diapers is a whole lot of diapers!

On this recent trip to Target, we decided to break the whole trip down and make it an educational field trip to take a closer look and build the kid’s understanding of consumer skills in the process for a school project.   This was a great opportunity for my kids to use their Geography, Math, and Consumer Skills to buy Huggies Little Snugglers diapers.

We went to the Target.com website and found locations of Target stores in neighboring towns. We chose the store with the closest distance to our home to visit. I printed a map for the kids to follow ahead of time.  From the printed map, they had to identify our house, the Target store in a neighboring town, and the roads to travel on to get from point “A” to point “B”. I had them compute the mileage and estimated travel times for different routes to the store as there is more than one route to get there, but some routes take you on small country roads.

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My oldest son is a gadget guru and wanted to do his geography map work with the live Google Maps App on the phone.  He found he could also get live satellite images as well as a road map and this feature in 3D and this was exciting to him to see landmarks, as well as fields and forested areas on the screen.

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Before arriving, we talked about how stores will place sales flyers and specials at the front of the store to increase sales and offer shoppers a good deal on certain items. I asked the children to observe what sales Target placed at the front of their store. The kids observed that Target has a $1 section of toys and various items at the front of their store and also picked up a copy of their sales flyer. They also noticed that Target has a food court at the front of the store with items like soft pretzels and sandwiches incase shoppers get hungry or need a place to sit down and help them have a positive shopping experience. We did not eat at Target during our trip, but the coffee smelled so good, and the soft pretzels looked delicious! Maybe next time!

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We found the diapers in the diaper section.  I had the kids check out how the diapers were arranged for the shopper to find. They noticed there was a large selection of Huggies diapers and wipes to choose from, and it was easy to find the brand and style we came for. The kids placed the diapers in our shopping cart and we headed for the checkout.

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We placed the diapers and gift card on the moving counter at the checkouts. We were able to purchase our Jumbo Pack of Huggies Little Snugglers with the Target Gift Card we received.

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Checking out was fast and easy. Our cashier was a beautiful and very happy young lady.  She was helpful and asked if we had found everything we came for today.  When she smiled, she made the whole room light up! I was thankful to have such a nice cashier to help us.

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The ride home was quiet. The kids had learned a lot about being a consumer, and exhausted their brains! Besides buying diapers, they each picked out something from the dollar bins. In my sleeping toddler’s lap is his purchase of a package of dinosaurs. We are excited about them because there are two of each dinosaur for matching colors, counting, patterns, and also for learning identification of different dinosaurs. This is a great buy for $1. It was a good shopping experience! Thank you Target, and thank you Mom Central Consulting for this fun review opportunity!

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Disclaimer: I received free product and promotional gift in exchange for writing an honest review. All opinions expressed by me and my family are our honest opinions.

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Boys and Arrows

 

 

 

Life Skills & Survival Skills 

As part of our Thanksgiving Unit Study, we studied some of the survival skills the settlers knew, or learned by trial and error.

Here are some of the life and survival skills we looked at:

Ability to adapt to a new environment.
Ability to find and use water.
Ability to hunt for food, both vegetation and animal.
Ability to raise food.
Ability to store food.
Ability to cook food.
Ability to make shelter that provides safety in various weather conditions.
Ability to medically treat accidents and illnesses and survive them.
Ability to defend themselves against predators.
Ability to defend themselves against enemies.

Some of these skills they learned in the previous land they came from.  They brought a limited amount of basic tools with them on their journey. They were skilled at using these tools.  But they faced new challenges in the new land, and needed to learn some special skills to survive there.   Help came from their neighbors, the Native American Indians, who taught them many new skills or how to adapt the skills they had, to survive in the new climate and land they now lived.  This opportunity and ability to learn survival skills is a big part of the story of Thanksgiving and the history of our great country.   So this season, it is a perfect time of year for children to see and learn to use skills that were a part of our history, and bring the experience alive for them.

To be honest, these are all basic skills we still need today.  Even though we depend mostly on the grocery system for our food, and construction workers for our shelters, and doctors for our illnesses, and the military and police for our protection, to some degree we still need to learn a lot of these skills ourself.

If a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, ice storm, power outage, quarantine, act of terror, or some other horrible event happened and interfered with our food delivery system, how would your family survive?  How would you find food?  How would you find water?  How would you take care of yourself and your loved ones in a survival situation?

 

Our modern food system has only been on the scene for a short time, about 50 to 100 years, and even less for some of our modern food conveniences.  It is important to help your children understand what was it like to get their food, including water, grains, produce, milk, salt, and meat 100 years ago, 300 years ago, and even 1000 years ago.

 

In case of emergencies, it is wise to have at least a three day survival ration set aside in your home.  A survival ration would include basic food and supplies, and you should have a longer plan incase the event lasted longer than three days.   Many good sources recommend a four to a six month supply.   In recent history (just the past few years) whole communities ( thousands of families) have had to survive without power during ice storms, tornadoes, and earthquakes, deal with contaminated water during floods and hurricanes, and lack of basic resources.  Could your family survive this winter if the power went out for a week, and the roads were frozen over making it unsafe to drive, and the stores were closed because there was no power and no customers?

Now I am not saying you would have to hunt for meat during that three days or week.  However if the problem lasted longer, in the bitter cold of winter, a fresh deer could mean the difference of nourishment and going hungry in some situations.  But I am saying that learning basic survival skills is a good thing to do.  It helps you to have a “plan B” if normal daily life should get a “hic-up” in it and normal life became not normal for a few days.

This may sound ridiculous to folks who have only lived in the city, never experienced power outages, and had stores with in easy access all their life.  But if you have ever lived in a true rural situation, where it took several miles, maybe even an hours drive, to get to a grocery store, you would understand how life can be hard if you don’t have a modern system of grocery stores, refrigerators, freezers, electricity, and so on to help you survive.

You might be asking yourself, how in the world can I teach survival skills to my kids?  Well, cooking and self care skills during times of natural disaster, or economic collapse are not much different than the skills you need when you go camping.   Ask yourself these questions, what would you need to have and to know If you planned to go camping for a week?
Shelter and a way to keep warm and dry.
A way to get safe water.
A way to get nourishment for your body.
A way to treat an injury if one occurred.

Survival skills are important to have.  The last few generations don’t understand this, and very few have the skills needed to survive without modern conveniences if they had too.  Take the time to teach your children a few survival skills to help them get through a disastrous time in life if they had too.   You will need to judge for yourself when you think your children are ready to work with items such as fire, pocket knives, or other equipment that could be dangerous if used in correctly.   I will post links to several sites with good information and videos at the end of this article. 

 

 

How Leaning Life Skills and Survival Skills As A Child, Helped Me As An Adult:

 

I was privileged to have a lot of different experiences growing up.   When I say privileged it wasn’t because we had any money.  No, life was quite the opposite, we were poor.  But life was full of a lot of different situations, and I learned a lot of survival skills to help me get through this life.   Making opportunities out of tough experiences, to learn and grow through difficult situations, well I think that is a special privilege.   Going through these things and surviving made me a stronger person.

Here is my two cents on living through difficult times.   I see it as you have three choices:
1) You don’t survive
2) You survive, but you also break and become addicted to things to help you cope,
3) You cope and get stronger, and with God’s help, overcome the hard times to be a better person.

That is the choice I made as a young girl.  I made a decision around age 8 years old, that with God’s help, I was going to overcome every situation in life, and use it as a challenge to become smarter, stronger, and survive.

There have been times in my life where I was in a survival situation.   Having provisions set aside, and knowing basic skills such as how to start a fire and cook on it and keep warm, meant a huge difference in our comfort level.

Many times as a child and as an adult, I have survived in tornadoes and had to stay in cellars, basements, and storm shelters, with no power or water at times.

I have been in ice storms that left us with no power, no heat, no water, the roads were shut down, and the local stores were closed.  This has happened to me several times, and one of those times my husband was out of town and I was pregnant and had three young children.  No family to rely on, just pregnant me and the young kids.  Could have been a disaster, had it not been for a little know how, and a little preparation ahead of time.  That time, thankfully, we did have an emergency generator for our barn.  So the kids and I had to sleep ( I promise I did not sleep as I was to scared of spiders in the dark) on the ground, huddled together,  barely warmed by an emergency generator powering a little heat to the barn, and it gave me one outlet to use an electric skillet to make something warm to eat.

But other times, when I didn’t have such a luxury, I have cooked over an open fire, or on an outdoor grill ( be sure to have a full propane tank for the grill, even though its winter and you don’t plan to cook on it), and to keep warm we used either a fire (dangerous with young children) or a portable gas heater (can be dangerous from carbon monoxide, but when it is zero degrees outside, you have to weigh your options and your risks).    I have taken water from streams before and had to use it for necessities when we had no power to our well pump.  I have had to pull food from the pantry and cupboards to survive for a week, when there was no working stove and no open store available to get food.  I have prepared a fire outside to boil water or cook food.  Again, I just want to drive this point home, it is wise to always keep your gas grill or charcoal grill with plenty fuel on hand in case of an emergency power outage.

A great skill I learned as a child, how to raise and butcher meat, was carried into adulthood.  On our farm in Indiana, a big part of the fall season for us and most of our neighbors, was to harvest meat for the coming year.  We butchered meat ourselves and we also hired the local usda butcher to do our cows.  We had several of our cows butchered each fall and sold the extra meat we did not need for our family.  We had a great reputation and lots of orders for our beef.  

 

 

My husband, Mike, also hunted, especially over the Thanksgiving weekend, when those days were set aside special just for hunting.  Most of the men we knew hunted during this time of year.  Here is a picture of a deer he shot in the heart, and then gutted before taking it to the butcher to be processed for freezer storage.  The butcher would process the meat into 1 lb frozen packages for our freezer.  We would have several cuts of steaks made, ground meat, sausage, smoked sausage, and ham.  We would also later make our own jerky from some of the meat.  I would ask for the heart and liver to be put into 1lb packages also.  I would have some of the bones saved for making broth.


Mike has hunted in both Kansas and Indiana and always hunted with a rifle, a shotgun and a muzzle loader.  He used to harvest one to two deer a year.  He would have the local butcher process the meat into 1lb packages for the freezer.  We ate this meat once or twice a week all year long.  The ground meat made the best taco’s.  We had the whole deer ground except for the tenderloin we had cut into steaks and we had 4 rolls of deer summer sausage made each season too.  I would never let them add pork or lard to the mix.  Just straight deer.  Oh it was the best you have ever tasted, so lean and delicious.  We always took a plate of this to holiday dinners.

Here is a picture of deer summer sausage, honey comb, and bottles of our favorite flavors of Black Cherry and Tangerine Knudson Spritzers.

 

This is me around 20 years of age with my catch of fresh fish.  Fishing was another skill I learned as a young girl.   Wish I still looked 20, ha, ha.

 


Passing Life Skills On To This Generation:

Well it has been both easy and hard to teach some of these life skills to our children.  Our years on the farm till 2008, was a good start.  The kids learned to milk goats and cows, to raise beef cows, chickens, sheep and goats, for food, and how to help in the garden.  In the garden they learned to help till the soil, plant the seeds, weed, water, and harvest.   Three of the children were old enough to learn to mow the grass.  One son learned to help operate the tractor.  The older three rode in the cab of the tractor while baling fields of hay and while feeding bales of hay to cattle in the pasture.  The children learned to collect fresh eggs everyday, and what happens if you collect one from a spot you forgot to look in for a while, Pee-U!  They learned to feed and water the animals and give them hay each day.  They learned to help build and repair fence and pens too.

When they weren’t learning during chores, they were learning and practicing during play.  They learned to jump hay bales and play king of the mountain.  They played on their fort and swing set.  They practiced digging for China in the garden.  They loved to look for fishing worms and get them ready for dad to take everyone fishing.
They practiced casting their fishing rods in the driveway.  Look out!!  They rode their bikes up and down the drive way and surrounding hills.  They built ramps to ride their bikes on too.  They would throw a rope over a tree branch to swing on it or to climb the tree.  They rode the goats like a horse.  They chased chickens.  They would lay down in the sheep and goat pen and play with them.  They would run and race the baby cows in their pasture.  They stole mom’s ripe berries off the berry bushes before she could harvest them.  They even played with dad’s mower with supervision.  Dad let them race the mower, and do donuts in the driveway.  We also took them fishing in our pond when we had time to sit back for a while.  They all love to fish as much as I do.

 

Since moving to North Carolina, we have been able to fish several times at Lake Lure and a couple times at Orchard Lake Campground.   Mike has really wanted to go hunting, but we know no-one to let him go on their ground.   He misses it like crazy.   He has been to the local shooting range a few times to practice with his gun, and he has recently taken the oldest, James to teach him gun safety and practice hitting the target.

He has also been wanting to learn to shoot a bow and arrow.  It is a life long dream of Mike’s to hunt with a bow and arrow, though he always found the concept a bit intimidating in the past.  He hadn’t been around anyone to learn the skill as they used one, and from all his friends had told him it was very difficult.   But deep in his heart he still wanted to learn it and master it.

Our son James has asked for almost three years if we could get him a bow and arrow set and teach him how to use it.  He too, wants to hunt a deer with it.   For his 9th birthday, we got him a plastic learning set from Back To Basics.  It had suction cups instead of arrow tips on the ends.  This was a good place to start, but it was a little young for him, and he eventually lost interest in the set.

In part of our reading for homeschool, James read a book about two brothers from the 1860’s who learned how to hunt for food and used different survival skills.  They had to survive in a new land for eight months alone, with out their family.   They learned to fish, make fish traps, hunt for food, make small animal traps, use a spear, use plants as medicine and food, and defend themselves from a bear.  The book is a great read for kids and adults.  It is called “Cabin On Trouble Creek”.  This story really motivated James again to want to learn survival skills and renewed his interest in wanting to know how to shoot with a bow and arrow.  

This fall, Mike began to research using a bow and arrows and details about buying a good starter set.  He bought James a real bow and arrow set, and a target block to practice.  Here are pictures of their first time to use it.  James’ arm was so sore after a few times that he could hardly continue to retract the bow.  Right off the bat, James had very good aim, he just needs to build up endurance and the strength in his arms to repeatedly pull back on the bow.  Mike also worked with the younger brothers, John and Joseph, in helping them learn the basics of holding the bow and aiming the shot.

 

Mike plans to work with the boys a half hour several times a week after work.  This will be a good activity for all of them to do together as they learn about a survival skill and learn about becoming young men.  I hope once they master it in practice, they will have the opportunity at some point to use it to hunt a deer.  I know the joy Mike would feel to achieve this childhood dream.

 

 Here are several links to help you teach survival and life skills to your children.

Bow And Arrow /  What it is and its history

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bow_and_arrow

How To Shoot A Bow and Arrow

http://www.centenaryarchers.gil.com.au/the10.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QatDFsLPZXY

http://www.wikihow.com/Shoot-an-Arrow

Spears / What it is and its history

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spear

How To Hunt With A Spear

http://www.spear-hunting.com/spear-hunting-history.html

Here are some e-how survival videos by a guy who was a boy scout and now teaches wilderness survival skills.  These are great for kids to watch (how to make a spear stick, how to cook with hot rocks, and much more)

http://www.ehow.com/videos-on_8443_use-plants-animals-survive-nature.html

How to build a Camp Fire

http://www.go-camping.org/campfires.html

How To Cook With A Camp Fire and How To Use Safe Water

http://www.go-camping.org/cooking.html

How To Go Camping In Your Back Yard

A little funny, but gives you a simple idea of how you could practice setting up for an emergency if you needed to.  Keep all your camping or emergency gear in one place and that will help to minimize frustration on where stuff is located.  I heard one person say they easily can move everything they need in less than 15 minutes because they have it all in one place.  Wow, in an emergency like a power outage, that could save you loads of time and headache.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXP41bGHnuc

Here is a beginners guide to go camping.  Use this list to make your own list of what items you would want or need in your emergency supplies

http://www.beginnersguidetocamping.com/campingchecklist.pdf

Governement List to Make an Emergency Kit

http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/

Where to buy tools and supplies

http://www.survivalunlimited.com/

What to do if the power goes out in the winter

http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/tips/winter_lightsout.html

How To Make A Power Outage Bearable

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Power-Outage-Bearable

Here is another good article written by Possum Hill Farms, called Homesteading in America.  The article is about why it is important to know survival skills and reduce our dependence on commercialism.

 

 http://possumhillfarms.blogspot.com/2010/05/homesteading-in-america.html

Scripture passages are from Biblegateway.com

 Genesis 21:20
God blessed Ishmael, and as the boy grew older, he became an expert with his bow and arrows. He lived in the Paran Desert, and his mother chose an Egyptian woman for him to marry.

Genesis 27:3
So take your bow and arrows, then go out in the fields, and kill a wild animal.

Psalm 127:4
Having a lot of children to take care of you in your old age is like a warrior with a lot of arrows.

 

What are some ways you are teaching life skills and survival skills to your children?
Please leave a comment and let us know.

 

 

 

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