If you have children then I am sure you’ve thought through several scenarios of bugging out with your children. Depending on their age will determine how well they understand prepping, and the importance of it. If they’ve been exposed to prepping from a young age then they most likely have a good mindset about it.
However if they were a little older and introduced to it, they will likely come up with their own opinions about it, and decide for themselves how important it is. My daughter, 12, understands the importance of it but does not want to talk about it because it scares her, understandable. My 9 year old son is completely on board, and actually comes up with ideas to help us better prepare.
The best way to teach a child is to show them, and show by example. None of us have gotten into a preparedness mindset without having seen or experienced some need that required the use of a tool, car/personal supply item, or food/water stash. Starting with the diaper bag and advancing to the extra sports supplies for last minute repairs or replenishment, we have found a need for what we carry with us every day to care for our child, not to mention the additional supplies for ourselves and our vehicle. And our children know we have these supplies, depending on us to take care of these last minute issues.
Our children model their behavior after us. We buy clothes that resemble ours so they can look like us, fill their toy chests and play areas with replicas of our tools and machines, and share our hobbies and interests with them regularly. To teach them to prepare for life, we can’t talk to them or at them. We must talk with them, giving them a hands-on experience to help ground the lessons.
Plan to be away from home and have a need to use something from your own EDC, whether it is a multi-tool, cordage, knife, or jug of water for cleaning or thirst. Go for a hike or small outing not far from home on a weekend day when you know it will rain or become inclement, then stop and pull from your EDC to form a quick shelter. If park rules allow fires, possibly make a little fire for warmth then pull out one of those extra emergency blankets you bought in bulk and show how to use it to keep everyone warm and/or dry. Sit and discuss how fortunate everyone is that you were prepared. Depending on the child’s age and maturity, consider discussing stories you’ve heard about others not having supplies and getting caught by the elements. The most tragic is the man who was with his young boys when they got lost on a hike and died from exposure overnight. Stories like that could scare some, so only discuss if you are sure your child is mature enough to handle the tragedy.
Another option is to attempt to ‘generate’ an experience where your child is away from the house and a minor emergency arises, causing them to have to resort to their own resources without an EDC on hand. This would be a reinforcing incident that would be remembered, but it should be something that doesn’t put the child in harm’s way or leads them to feel you wished ill for them. Being a short distance away from you without shelter or a multi-tool would quickly show the value in such items without causing undo panic or alarm.
Do these ‘dry runs’ several times over, discussing the items in your own EDC while asking your child what might happen should he/she be on a hike, bus trip, etc. and get caught by the rain, flat tire, etc. Suggest a few different scenarios, then let them make suggestions on other scenarios. Ask what they think they may need to have with them to make sure they could stay dry in an emergency if they were not with you. What kind of bag do they think will work best for them. Ask them how they think they should carry their supplies, then remind them they need to keep their supplies private, even from best friends. Reiterate their need to not seem paranoid or scared to others, explaining the theory of some who think children are too young to be concerned with such things. Remember that repetition is the mainstay of the learning process, so practice, practice, practice on a regular basis to ensure the child is comfortable and confident in the ability to handle life’s little emergencies. Not only will you be teaching them practical skills, you will be developing and strengthening their self-confidence, independence and appreciation of self-reliance.
Listen to your children as they explore the idea of seeing to their own needs, ensuring they always have a small poncho or emergency blanket, an extra granola bar, whistle or flashlight when they leave the house. Reiterate the need to not turn to the food supply unless they are on their own and away from home for an extended period – this is not a snack but an emergency food source. As you discuss possible carrying options, remind them it needs to be small, convenient, and comfortable without it becoming a hindrance to their activities. Go shopping for possible bags or containers for pockets, waistbands, etc. Discuss hats or caps and wearing one daily, both for warmth and shade.
Remember to keep this fun and informative but relevant to each individual child. Let them make the decision about how best to carry, what to use, how to be discrete. Then remember that they are still children, and as the parent, it’s up to you to have periodic reviews of their EDC’s and ensure they stay stocked. In this manner, you are certain the supplies are current, replenished, and carried. Your child should know they will need to keep their EDC with them, use it responsibly, yet know that you are still involved in their safety and well being. You haven’t given them a bag and sent them off into the world to fend for themselves. You have supplied them with items to keep them safe, warm, and dry until you can come and take over.
Bugging out with children is something that takes a lot of consideration, and could be based on the ages of your children. Getting them into EDC is a great start towards them understanding the importance of prepping.