As you may remember I’ve been putting together a camping kit for my two nephews who don’t spend a lot of time in the wilderness. The boys not getting any dirt time has been weighing heavy on my mind, but instead of letting it get me down I decided to take action and do something about it.
This past weekend my youngest nephew told me he was heading to boy scout camp and that he didn’t have everything he needed, so I decided to give him his kit early. (I was waiting for his birthday in early May to give it to him.) Last weekend I had a friend come over with his kid and and his son’s friend – both 12 – and my nephew who is almost 11. The idea was to test out the cold weather tent I’d just bought, but in reality it was a chance to give my nephew his gear.
Man, I couldn’t have been more surprised at his reaction! As I pulled stuff out of the pack: knife, canteen with cover and cup, firesteel, cozy, stove, compass, head lamp, poncho, etc, his eyes kept getting bigger and bigger. He kept asking, “Is this for me? Is that mine?” I’d smile and say, “Yeah, Buddy. This is your stuff. Now I just have to show you how to use it in the woods.”
When I was done he came over and gave me a hug and said, “You’re the best uncle ever!”
According to my sister he’s talked about nothing else since Saturday. Now that makes me feel good, but it’s not the end of the story. He wants to come over now and learn how to use the stuff, which to me is far more important than any amount of gear I could give him. My grandfather, dad, and some uncles taught me some wilderness skills and I picked up others by myself. It’s an ongoing process and anybody who tells you that they know it all has reached the sad state where they’ve stopped learning. I don’t know any true outdoorsman who isn’t interested in learning something new or seeing a new way of doing an old task. I want to continue the tradition and pass on some knowledge to my nephew.
Knowledge and experience are the best tools you can take into the woods… you can make just about everything else if you really need to. Not only do you learn how to survive you also learn to respect nature… something lacking in a lot of people today.
So, my plan is over the summer to have him over for several camp outs and to teach him a few of the things he’ll need to know in order to camp successfully and even to survive if he ever finds himself in a tight situation. Some of the things I want to teach him are responsible fire making, how to use a knife properly, basic compass, making potable water, and some first aid. And I’d like to do one big adventure like climbing Mt. Katahdin, which would be huge!
If you were in this situation what would you like to teach your nephew or niece? I’m open to all ideas.
Sound off below!