Spending time in nature together has long been a male bonding ritual. There’s nothing like a roaring campfire on a cool, star-lit night to awaken primal feelings of closeness among men, especially fathers and sons. The feeling of being warriors, hunters, men of valor while facing the unknowns of nature, shoulder to shoulder, can create a bond difficult to reproduce in the safe, secure world of home.
In more recent times, however, portable electronics coupled with campgrounds, metal fire pits, and restrooms just up the hill, have diluted the experience of facing nature together. It’s hard to feel like you are staring nature in the eye, when the glow of your laptop is blinding you to your surroundings. It’s hard to feel shoulder to shoulder with someone whose earphones are loud enough to be heard over the sound of the portable television the folks in the next campsite are watching. It’s hard to create a bond of communication when your son spends more time “texting” his girlfriend than he does talking to you.
If camping has become about as tame as barbecuing in the backyard, or if bonding has become about as fulfilling as a pounding on the bedroom door yelling, “Turn that down!”, it might be time to try taking your son on a real, roughing-it, Survivor Man Camping trip.
Hear are some suggestions to help make your trip an exciting, safe, responsible, adventure:
1) Build a survivor camping kit. Include things that you might have if you were stranded in the woods. Assume you were pretty prepared for an emergency. Make sure the kit is small enough to create an authentic experience, but large enough that you won’t be absolutely miserable on your trip. Your kit might include:
– A large plastic drop cloth so you can more readily build a shelter.
– A large knife.
– A couple of emergency “space” blankets.
– A fire starting apparatus. Matches or something like the magnesium block with the flint striker commercially marketed for just such a purpose.
(Make sure you practice with your fire starter before you have to depend on it!)
– Rope. Cheap cotton clothes line works very well.
– Maybe a couple cans of your favorite “camping food” with a can opener.
– Safe drinking water.
Whatever you decide to put in your kit, it should fit into two fanny pack sized bags- one for you, one for your son.
2) Choose the location of your trip carefully. You don’t have to be miles away from a trail or roadway. You would be surprised how isolated a place can feel just a few hundred yards into the woods.
Do you want to make catching fish for dinner part of the trip? Then you need to be near a water source. Don’t forget some kind of primitive fishing gear and any required licenses. It helps to plan a way to cook what you catch, by the way. Biting into a raw fish makes for good TV, but isn’t so great for having fun and bonding. The selection of spacious camping tents can be done through the family members. The living of the person in the camping tent will be comfortable for the person. The area should be licensed and registered for spending of the vacations. The fun and enjoyment will be excellent in the camping.
You will also want to ensure you have sufficient raw materials at your sight to build your shelter and maintain a fire for warmth and light. Scouting an area ahead of time never hurts and can save you a lot of time wandering around, looking for a suitable location.
Finally, make sure you comply with any state, federal, and local laws or regulations regarding camping, campfires, and whatever else might apply. You would likely get some leeway in a real survival scenario. Not so much in a simulated survival situation!
3) Make your shelter simple, but effective. Getting rained on is no fun, especially when you don’t have anyplace to go to get dry afterward. Build a shelter that really will protect you. A simple lean-to built by tying a pole between two trees about 4 feet off the ground then leaning additional poles on this cross bar works well and is easy to build. Never cut live trees or branches for your shelter. Again, we are enjoying a simulated survival situation. Leave no trace when you are done.
4) Be safe with fire. This goes without saying, but, “Only you…” Remember, what Smokey said and play it safe when it comes to your campfire.
5) Consider making this a time to pass something along to your son. Perhaps a pocket knife or some other keepsake your father gave you, or maybe a new heirloom that your son can pass on someday. A keepsake will remind your son of this special time together for years to come.
6) Finally, teach your son about respect for nature by meticulously cleaning and clearing your campsite when you are done. No one should know you ever stayed there. Take down your shelter, pick up any and all trash, even fill in your fire pit. Be a hero to your son by standing for something, like respect for nature.
Taking a Survivor Man camping trip means you will be giving up some creature comforts for a day. However, you are gaining a chance to bond in the face of adversity (however self-inflicted) with someone who will hold times like this in his heart for the rest of his life.