Wilderness survival camps teach skills such as how to build a shelter, trap small animals for food, cook over a campfire and move safely over harsh terrain. Survival skills can be useful for backpackers or mountain climbers, but they can also help teens build self-confidence and independence while experiencing a fun adventure.
Many programs and camps teach survival skills for people who want to know how to survive in case a plane crash or other emergency leaves them stranded in a wilderness area. For instance, the Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School in Virginia and Oregon offers two-day Survival 101 courses for men and women, a more comprehensive four-day course and even an escape and evasion course that teaches participants how to move through wild terrain while being hunted by enemies. Most of these courses are only available to people who are at least 18 years old, but some programs are also available for kids and teens. Mountain Shepherd offers a two-day "Wild Comforts" survival course for parents with kids ages 10 and older. It also offers additional survival courses through the Boy Scouts.
Summer camps sometimes offer wilderness survival courses for campers. The 4-week Roaring Brook Camp for Boys in Vermont offers classes in survival training, cooking on a campfire, orienteering, wilderness first aid, using camping tools, water rescue, panning an expedition, environmental awareness, lost-proofing, using a marlinspike and camping without leaving a trace. This camp is for boys between the ages of 9 and 16 and also offers courses on shooting and other topics.
Some camp programs are focused on teaching survival skills to teens, including the Jack Mountain Teen Bushcraft and Survival Course in Maine for boys between 13 and 17 years old. Campers in the Jack Mountain course study wilderness survival, primitive fire-starting skills, shelter-building, finding and purifying water, navigation, cooking, canoeing, knot tying, finding edible wild plants and using tools such as the ax, knife and saw. Campers spend a week in the wilderness of Aroostook County learning and applying these skills.
Programs for Girls
Many wilderness survival courses for teens cater to boys, but courses and camps exist for teen girls, too. The Women's Wilderness Institute offers a Girls' Wilderness Program including backpacking and rock climbing. The program focuses on teaching teen girls to work together and take on leadership roles while learning outdoor skills in the mountains of Colorado. The Mountain Shepherd "Wild Comforts" and "Wilderness First Aid" course are also available to both boys and girls.
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images