Now building a survival shelter is of course for survival. But it’s not just for survival, it’s for fun too.
You and the kids can make one awesome survival shelter out of debris and have a cool hideaway for sleep outs; no tents, no sleeping bags required! Plus you’ll all learn some basic survival skills too, which can help when you’re having, well, awesome family adventures!
The survival shelter we’re going to show you how to make is made out of leaves and debris, and it’s actually called a debris hut! How awesome would it be to have this super safe, warm spot outside for some family bonding and adventures? Make no mistake; the kids will be begging to spend time in this outdoor creation!
Why Teach Your Kids How to Make a Survival Shelter?
Well for starters, a shelter is the first thing you should do if you’re actually ever lost in the outdoors. You should do this before you even look for food and water. The debris hut is super easy to make and will keep you warm and dry and safe from the elements. Your kids also need to know the art of surviving if they’re ever in a tricky situation, which we hope they won’t be, but this project can teach them some of those all-important survival skills.
But as we said, this is one cool family adventure to take on, even if you aren’t planning on an outdoor adventure in a great unknown place.
Unbelievably you can make these shelters without a saw; no cutting required and not even knot tying is needed. So, whether you’re doing this for fun, or survival, then Bear Grylles would even be impressed with your skills, by making something super cool out of very little.
How to Build the Survival Shelter
Before you start on the path to shelter, have a chat with your kids about why you would need a survival shelter. Don’t scare the life out of them of course, but it’s good for them to know why this is important. If you guys are out and get separated from each other, at least they’ll know what to do and how to protect themselves. Lesson learnt, let’s get on with building.
Location, location, location
As they say buy a house in the right location, well when you’re surviving in the outdoors, location is critical too. So head outdoors where there’s lots of leaves, twigs and branches and explore the space around you. You might be able to do this in your backyard or head out to a wilderness are. But, wherever you are make sure that there are plenty of materials to get you going, to save a lot of time and energy. If you’re in a real life situation, you’ll need to conserve energy, which is why choosing a spot that’s got loads of leaves, twigs and branches is important. Take time to choose the right place.
Once you’ve all had a good scout out, and you think you’ve found the right location, just have a heads up conversation to make sure the spot is right. Think of things together like whether water can come rushing in, what would happen if there was a storm, are the trees strong and healthy and would the branches be able to protect you? All these things need to be considered.
Right, location sorted, so now you need to find a good branch to be the ‘spine’ of your shelter, so to speak. It should be at least 15cm thick.
Then fit the top end into a notch in a tree, or somewhere that is raised and will hold it in place, like a stump or a large stone or even a mound. Make sure it’s tall enough; stand straight and raise your hands up; that’s approximately how tall it should be.
As you’re going to want to keep it warm and dry underneath, and make it as comfortable as possible, pack and pile up leaves or grass underneath the spine.
Now, we’ll move on to the next step. Grab some smaller branches. Make sure that they’re long enough to go over the top of the ‘spine’ and reach the ground. You’re now going to build up the sides with these. Place them as close together as possible and they will go from ground height over the spine. Make sure the branches will be strong enough to hold debris and leaves on top of them. Make sure you leave space for a door at the higher end of the hut; you’re going to want to get in after all!
Now for the awesome part; well not that everything else hasn’t been awesome already! You’re going to pile on leaves and debris, and pile them on, and then pile them on some more. Yep, you get the message right? You’re going to pile them on! Try and use dry material as it traps air more and is great for insulation. Get those feet moving and rake up all your materials like leaves, ferns, grass or anything else you can find in your adventure survival zone and pile it on thick. If you can, try and make it almost 1m thick, it will just help with insulation. The more you pile, the warmer, drier and safer you’ll all be. Once you’ve got your thick layer, go inside and look for any sunlight coming in. If there is, go back and pile some more to cover it up.
The Build is Complete, what now?
There! Job done. You’ve got a cool survival shelter. Why not get out that camera or video camera and get some cool footage of your amazing accomplishment. Maybe you can even film from start to finish and then share your massive survival achievement with the world.
It’s not over yet…now it’s time to camp out as a family. Grab some snacks as you’re not in real survival mode yet, and get down to an amazing sleep out in your warm and cosy shelter. By teaching your kids these survival skills they’ll certainly gain a feeling of freedom and build their confidence too.
If you’ve built this in your backyard, it can be whatever the kids want it to be…their spy club, their hangout zone with their friends, or their adventure survival hut, just as it is.
Did you know that indigenous people in Alaska build shelters like this? How cool is that?
If you’re Serious about Survival Skills
Now that you’ve completed this project, the kids might be addicted to learning how to survive in the outdoors! Well you can take it a step further. There are loads of places that offer survival skill courses for kids.
Here are a couple to consider:
The Bear Grylls Survival Academy based in the UK
Survival Adventure in South Africa
The Bear Grylls Survival Academy in Yosemite National Park, California, US offers a 24 hour family course
Wilderness Awareness School in the US offer youth survival courses
Check out this website for survival schools across Australia