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Improve Situational Awareness How To Improve It

Situational Awareness

Improve Situational Awareness How To Improve It.

It doesn’t need to be difficult to improve situational Awareness.

To improve situational awareness it doesn’t need to be difficult, that doesn’t mean there will be no hard work. Initially there are some simple rules you can set yourself. Such as

  • Don’t walk around looking at your feet, learn to keep your head up observing the area around you. Look Alert.
  • Don’t Use your mobile phone or have headphones on when out in busy areas/in public. Using them is an advert you have something useful to others and that you aren’t aware of what is going on around you.
  • Dress to your surroundings. We all like to look nice and wear nice clothes, but do you need to wear all your gold jewellery or expensive watch whilst shopping in the town center.
  • Plan what you are going to do when you are out. Know where you are going and what you will be doing. This seems obvious, but, when you are out look around and you will see people stopping and starting, walking backwards and forwards not really knowing what to do next.
Improve Situational Awareness

Improve Situational Awareness

These are four simple suggestions as you improve situational awareness you will create your own way of doing things that works and it becomes a natural way of doing thing. In the military and some police or emergency departments they are called Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P’s) To everyday people it is your way of doing things that you use every time.

Skills Needed To Improve Situational Awareness.

There are lots of ideas out there that are supposed to help improve situational awareness. The bottom line is it can just start to get over complicated. If you want to develop situational awareness for specialist purposes there are ways to do that. To keep you are your family safe, there are three areas to concentrate on.

  1. Observation.
  2. Memory
  3. Practice

In the rest of this article I will talk you through some simple exercises that you and your family can practice together. It is fun and can help you do more than improve situational awareness. They can help adults at work, and learning new skills and children will benefit in all areas of their education. so here goes.


Observation is being aware of your surroundings. We are all doing it to some extent all the time. whether we are driving or walking. It keeps us safe. We have learned over time to let our brains filter out what we need to know. If we picked up every little sound or movement that went on around us we probably couldn’t cope with the sensory input, it would be sensory overload. So our brains have adapted and filter out what it thinks we need to know and we let it do this most of the time. Over time we have adapted to what could be called a safer world, we aren’t walking around wondering if a predator is hiding near by and will want to eat us for lunch. The bottom line is we have let our guard down. In reality there may not be predators out there that are going to have you or your family for lunch, but there are predators out there that will steal you wallet, cash, mobile phone, tablet etc, physically attack you, rape people or even terrorists who would like to see people dead. I don’t say that to scare people and hopefully most people will go through life without experiencing any of these things, some are also rarer than others.

One game that I have used and played with my daughter is a basic observation game. It can be especially good in the car. After I have seen something as we drove along I will then ask questions. e.g. what colour coat was the person walking to the bus stop wearing? What colour car did we just pass? what shop did we just pass? What was the registration number of the car we were just following? I am sure you get the idea and can think up many questions. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the car, sat in a Costa having coffee or walking through town. Doing this means you have to be observant to be able to ask the questions and the children have to be alert to answer. As I said I play this with my daughter, it wasn’t long before she caught on and decided to ask me questions as well. Be Prepared. Take a look at Our article on tracking and observational skills


Memory is a great skill to develop because it helps you remember more things, but you also have to be aware of

psychology of a survivor

What Goes on in the mind of a survivor. The psychology of a survivor

something to remember it. As an excercise to prove that people are not aware of there surroundings we had a random incident set up to happen in front of some new recruits during their first weeks of training. Our job was to go and try and get as much detail as possible from those witnesses. The differences in those statement were amazing. Some saw 2 people others 3 or even 4. Different coloured cars, hair colour even the time of day. These statements were only taken one hour after the event. There are two ways to start improving memory. The first of these is kims game You can find out more here along with a video.

The next method also helps playing Kims Game, word association. Learn to memerise lists of words by linking one object to the next. For example.

Monkey, Bubbles, knife, cow.

Imagine a monkey blowing big multi coloured bubbles out of its ears. As they floated away they burst and thousands of knifes fly out in all directions. They fly down hitting a herd of cows in the bottom, causing them to jump up mooing loudly.  The vivid and ludicrous story continues through the list. After playing kims game recently with a group of children, a child said they could only say one item. I went through the list like this and then he recalled all the items. The following week I surprised him by asking him to do this again. He repeated the list forwards and another child backwards without any practice or revision. Here are a couple of books I have used to help me remember various things.



There is only one way that you will improve these skills. That is by practice, practice and more practice. The important thing to remember is to make it fun. Playing games whilst walking through town or in the car are fun and you will see just how much you miss out on when walking around. There are some serious, and some funny things that go on around us everyday. Just don’t get your smartphone out and start videoing everything. If you aren’t in the mood to play a game and you have two children set them tasks who is first to spot so many cars of a certain colour. Use you imagination. Tony Buzan who is the author of these two books I recommend has written a variety of books relating to memory, creativity and thinking. He gives good advice in an easy to read way.

Check out our other articles on Situational Awareness here. Situational Awareness, a priority


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Building Bushcraft Shelters for kids and everyone

Lessons in build a shelter

Building Bushcraft Shelters From Tarpaulin or Natural Materials

Type of Survival Shelter using a Tarp or Poncho.

If you have read the previous articles about selecting a shelter site and the first lessons of shelter building, you will realise it isn’t just about starting to build bushcraft shelters. Once you have answered the question posed previously you will be ready to start looking at what type of shelter you are going to build and how to build bushcraft shelters.

If you are lucky you will have some resources at hand to create a simple shelter. It is a piece of kit that is versatile and has been used over time for many uses. It is the Tarpaulin “Tarp.” Or as was used and still is by some soldiers the poncho.

The Lean-to Shelter.

The lean-to on one of two simple and effective shelters that can be erected quickly and provide effective shelter from the elements (Sun, wind, rain and or snow) One benefit is that you don’t need any tools and minimal resources.

Lean To Tarp Shelter Building shelters

Lean To Tarp Shelter Building Bushcraft Shelters

The Lean-to is the most basic shelter and all that is needed is a tarpaulin and 2 to 3 meters of some sort of twine/cordage (Paracord is often used for this purpose and is recommended to be carried when outdoors because it is versatile and strong.) Ideally you also need three or four stakes approx. 30cm (one foot) long. These can easily be made by sharpening one end using a knife or large rock. The final element needed is two trees two or three meters apart. You can use poles for this either improvised ones made from fallen branches, walking poles or tent poles.

Prior to starting to construct the center you should have selected a suitable area. With this shelter you should consider the wind direction. You want the back pointing towards the incoming wind. Some people have suggested you can have the wind coming from the side and the side will be blocked off by some other means. What ever you do don’t have the wind blowing directly into the front of the shelter. It will make it un comfortable sleeping in it, cold and wet if it rains. Plus, your shelter might be blown away at any time.

If using a poncho remember to tie off the hood or you might have a leaking shelter.

  1. Cut your Paracord/cordage into two and tie one piece to the corner grommet of the Tarp and the other piece to the other adjacent grommet.
  2. Tie a “Drip stick” approx. 5 to 10 cm from each grommet. These sticks should be approx. 10cm long. The purpose of these is to stop any rain water from running along the paracord/cordage back towards and into the lean-to. This technique can be used along any grommet on the shelter. Tying a drip stick to a short length of cordage can help control the water caught on the tarp flowing back into your shelter.
  3. Tie the cordage at the corners to the trees around waist height. It is good to get into the habit of using quick release knots for this. It makes it easier when breaking camp. Keep the tarp taut between the two trees
  4. Spread the tarp out tight and fasten it down using stakes through the grommets.

Additional tips.

If instead of using trees you use stakes in the ground, you will need to use additional guy ropes to keep these tight.

If you are going to be using the shelter for more than one day you need to put a center support. If this is a poncho you can tie cordage around that and over a branch. This will stop water pooling in the center of the tarp. Some people suggest using large rocks to cause water to pool at the bottom of the tarp and cause it to wear quickly.


Tent Style Shelter.

There are benefits and disadvantages to the tent style shelter. The low profile gives increased shelter and traps the air around you in the small area. The disadvantages are it has less storage space and is restricted when getting in and out.

To build this type of shelter you need a tarp or poncho, two lengths of paracord or suitable cordage each 1.5 to

Tent type Tarp Shelter Building shelters

Tent type Tarp Shelter Building Bushcraft Shelters

2.0meters (5 to 8 feet) long. Six sharpened sticks approx. 30cm long and two trees approx. two to three meters (7 to 10 feet) apart

Again, start by tying off the poncho hood if using a poncho, as you would with a lean-to shelter.

Tie a 1.5 to 2.0meter length of paracord/cordage to the center grommet on each side of the tarp. The opposite ends need to be tied  to the trees creating a tight ridge line for your tent style shelter. The sides of the tent style shelter should be pulled tight and pegged down using the wooden stakes through the grommets in the corners of the tarp.

If you are going to be using the tent style shelter for more than one night you should use a center support. This could be the same as with the lean-to shelter, tie a piece of paracord/cordage around the hood and over a low branch.

An alternative is to build an additional A-frame outside, over the center of the tent. To do this use two stakes approx. 120cm long, one with a forked end. These rest together forming an A-frame for the center line to attach to. The only issue here is stability of the A-frame. To improve this you can use additional lines tied from the a frame to the trees.

The tent style shelter, can be made using stakes instead of trees. A pole should be put from the ground to center grommet along one side of the tarp. The same should be repeated on the opposite side. As with the Lean-to style shelter you will need additional guy ropes to make this stable. If this method is used it reduces even further the room available for accessing and exiting the shelter.

Survival Shelters From Natural Materials

Bushcraft Shelters using What nature provides.

The following shelters can be made in a wooded area using materials that can be found or made from what nature provides. All you need is a knife or blade tool (Even this can be made.) In this article I won’t be going into making cordage. When starting to build these types of shelter I would suggest using Paracord and learn to make cordage as a separate task. Then you can concentrate on making a good strong structure. When working with young people I would recommend the same course of action. These types of shelter take a lot of time, effort, energy and resources over shelters made using a tarp.

Lean-to Shelter

To get started you will need the following.

Lean to Shelter Building shelters

Lean to Shelter Building Bushcraft shelters

  • Two up trees (or strong upright poles) about 2 meters (7 feet) apart.
  • One pole approx.. 2 meters (7 feet) long At least 2.5cm (1 inch) in diameter.
  • Five to eight poles approx.. 3 meters (10 feet) long 2.5cm (1 inch) in diameter
  • Cordage/Paracord for lashing horizontal beams to the trees
  • Saplings to cover/crisscross the beams.

How to build a lean-to shelter.

  1. Lash the 2 meter (7 foot) pole between the two trees or support at approx. waist height. This will form the horizontal support.
  2. Place the 3 meter (10 foot) poles on one side of the horizontal support. As with the lean-to made with a tarp ensure the shelter is facing with the front exposure facing away from the incoming wind.
  3. Alternatively if you have access to many long poles, put a 2 meter (7 foot) poles on either end of the horizontal support. Then lash an extra 3 meter (7 foot) horizontal support half way up between the two poles you have placed at either end of the top supporting pole. Then prior to moving onto the next step place more 2 meter (7 foot) poles next to each other creating a solid lean-to shelter roof. The continue to step 5.
  4. Crisscross saplings or vines across the beams
  5. Cover this with Brush, leaves pine needles or grass. Start at the bottom and make your way to the top.
  6. The thicker this final covering the better the insulation above you.
  7. For additional warmth at night some people recommend heat deflectors. There are arguments as to whether there is any benefit from these deflectors given by these. Personally I would recommend if you have a tarp hang it over the front of the lean-to creating an enclosed sleeping area, with the option of having it open. I believe that this along with additional insulation is the best way of keeping dry and warm.

Adaptations Of This Lean-to Shelter.

Once you have mastered this technique of building structures it is possible to make more adaptations. The Obvious one is to make it into a design similar to the Tent style shelter made with a Tarp. These structures if made well can last years and with a little maintenance will be as efficient as the day you built it. But the time effort and materials needed to make these means it is worth taking time to start making what you want from the beginning with the view to expand. For example, instead of building a straight forward tent style Shelter I would consider a design with a small log wall to give a little more head space.

The Debris Shelter.

This shelter in its basic form is one of my favourites to build with young people. Although they are quite small they are very efficient at keeping in the heat and keeping you dry. The principles involved in building this are simple, the key to success is building it well. It is time consuming but worth the effort.

To start building this you need.

  • A ridge pole, between 2 to 3 meters (7 to 10 feet) ideally over 4cm diameter
  • Two poles to make a Bi-pod to hold the ridge pole up at the entrance. One with a forked end.
  • Sticks of various lengths to stand against full length of ridge pole.

Building A Debris Shelter.

  1. Take the two pieces for the entrance and place them together. They need to provide a support for the ridge pole.
  2. Place the remaining sticks along both sides of the ridge pole. These need to be able to support some weight. As seen in the picture. These need to be relatively close together. Gaps will be closed in the next stage.
    Debris Shelter Building Shelters

    Debris Frame Shelter Building Bushcraft Shelters

  3. Take finer sticks, weave them along the sides, starting to fill in gaps and make the sides stronger. Continue weaving these sticks until stop small debris like pine needles, leaves, grass etc from falling through.
  4. Start adding fine, ideally dry debris to the structure. Although the lattice is to stop this debris falling through, I would recommend trying to start with larger debris. Try and start with dry leaves, a layer of dry leaves will close most smaller holes. There is nothing more demoralising to put effort in to collecting debris to then watch the majority fall through gaps to the floor of your shelter. It is like taking two steps forward one back.
  5. Debris Shelter Building Shelters

    Debris Shelter Building Bushcraft Shelters

    After you have your initial layer on the shelter continue putting the debris until you have at least 1 meter (3 feet) of debris on the shelter. It is a case of more the better. A good judgement is that it should be as thick as the length of an adult’s arm, hand to shoulder.

  6. For the entrance make a lattice door that can be pulled over the door when you are inside. The thicker the better. Once you have you lattice door weave thin saplings into the door. Keep as many leaves on as possible. You can also push leaves or grass into the structure. The thicker the door the more insulation it will create.

Additional Insulation for Shelters

When we are outside we need to remember the importance of keeping warm.  the rule of 3 in survival is an innovative formula, it prepares you to fight with the incapacitating power of nature and give life a fair chance to live. It prioritizes your basic needs in order of priority.

You cannot survive:

3 minutes without air

3 hours without shelter

3 days without water

3 weeks without food

As you can see shelter is second in the list, stating you can only survive approximately three hours without shelter. This statement is based on the assumption that your core body temperature can fall without action being taken to a level you will cause you to die. This can happen day or night to anyone, it is important you are aware of your environment and take action to keep warm. At night it is important that you take precautions before you sleep.

Most heat is lost at night through the ground when people are sleeping. There are two things you can do. First and most important is to ensure you have insulation between you and the ground. The best way to do this is put a layer of material under you like a mattress. Use thin branches, pine needles, grass and dry leaves. Ensure the material is dry and is approx. 30cm thick. Do not use bracken as it often has ticks which can lead to Lymes disease. Saying that, if it is all you can find it is better than hypothermia.

Items of use for building shelters and den building.





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Bushcraft, Nature and Manners

Bushcraft, Nature and Manners, Does It Really Matter?

You may read the title, “Bushcraft, Nature and Manners, Does It Really Matter?” and think it is not relevant and some parents believe it isn’t a necessity in society today at all. I couldn’t disagree more, not only is it relevant for children involved in bushcraft and nature it is also essential in everyday life for both young and old people. Personally I cant stand hearing older people call young people disrespectful and bad mannered one minute, yet treat the young with the same disrespect and bad manners they don’t like. We all need to show the people around us a certain amount of good manners, if not where will it all end. Probably with no one having any manners and respect for anyone and everyone fighting for what they want.

Nature and bushcraft in my opinion are things that we need to start teaching our children about at an early age. Not just so they can learn new skills and have fun, but so they learn to respect the world around them. I have seen children throwing litter on the floor snapping young trees or damaging the things nature as that animals and plants may find of use. If challenged they react in various ways, from shouting abuse the running away, looking as if you have landed recently from planet Mars or parents will step in saying they are doing no harm to anyone.

Children shouldn’t reach this point, if parents led by example and explained what harm can be done to our environment at an early age it would be a good start. However this is a wider problem children are often told by parents manners aren’t necessary, there is no need to say please or thank you. Ask people to take hats off indoors and parents will often think you got off the same bus the children earlier thought you had got off from Mars. Here are a few manners I was taught, I am sure you can think of many more.

Manners and Respect

  • Always say, please and thank you.
  • Don’t speak when other people are speaking.
  • Don’t wear hats indoors.
  • Don’t eat with your mouth full.
  • Saying pardon or excuse me at appropriate times.
  • Saying pardon when you don’t hear someone. Pardon seems to have translated in English to “What!”or “Eh!”
  • Holding doors open for people.
  • Giving up your seat for elderly people, pregnant women etc.

Using these manners doesn’t make you special or mean you should get special praise, it shows you respect other people and their position or situation. As children get older I have noticed those who had it instilled into them at an early age to show manners get along better in the work place and life in general. I like to think this is because they respect what is around them. People see it as a quality in people and is often rewarded with responsibilities not given to the ill mannered

manners and respect essential for all children

manners and respect essential for all children

disrespectful person.

The same goes for nature, people who are taught that manners and respect are important in life also learn to respect the world around them and are open to learn why we should respect nature and the world around us. It all starts with education. I spend a lot of time encouraging young people to understand why they should use manners and show respect. If they cant respect the person next to them I certainly wont trust them to learn to use tools such as knives.

Having manners is important for all ages and people of all parts of society.

The only way to teach them is by example. That is from parents, teachers, youth leaders and every one they meet in society. We all have a part to play in the future of our children and shouldn’t be too keen to criticise if we aren’t willing to live by the same standards.

Observation, Memory, Concentration, Skills For Tracking and Life

kim tracking observation skills

Essential Skills For Tracking And Life

Observation, Memory, Concentration

In a previous post I spoke about improving observation skills and gave some tips that can help not just children, but adults as well to develop their memory (Observation Skills, What to teach your children,) In this post is a game that is named after the character who played the game to improve his observation and memory skills. The book is Kim by Rudyard Kipling in 1901 and the game is “Kim’s Game.” It is a book that is well worth reading. These are skills for tracking and life.

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I always say it is important to get our children outdoors, but sometimes we cant. So here is a game that can be played anywhere, indoors and out

Improving memory, observation and concentration skills are  vital for all people especially children. It is beneficial for their education, learning about wildlife and nature and skills that are great everyday life skills, that can help keep us all safe.


Children hunted for spittlebugs, searching out spittle balls

Only today I was returning home from collecting my daughter from school. We were walking home with another family and the mum pointed out what

looked like spittle on one of the boys sleeves. I had seen a lot of spittle from spittle bugs on a privet hedge on my way to the school, so I got my daughter to find some on our way home. She found some and I showed them the immature spittle bugs in the spittle. The other family were amazed at what they saw. Many people just like this family walk past things like spittle bugs and other bits of nature and wildlife as they go about their everyday business. By enhancing our observations, memory, concentration opens a whole new world which is fun and exciting to many people. But the benefit doesn’t end there, these same skills help a child develop their education and improve their lives in a fun and healthy way.


Kim’s Game

In the book “Kim”, Kims game was used to teach Kim skills he needed to become an agent and remember important information. It is a simple game still played a lot by Beavers and Cub Scouts.

The basic game is set up by putting twenty items on a cloth. The items should have different uses and backgrounds. The person playing the game is then given one minute to look at the items then they are covered by a cloth or removed from sight. The person playing then gives a description of what he saw in as much detail as possible. The focus should be on detailed descriptions. Here are two examples.

  1. A door Key.
  2. A Yale brand key that is bronze in colour for a latch type lock.

Initially a child will most probably give a description similar to description one. Once they have remembered the item ask some open questions to encourage them to describe the item in more detail, like example two. Initially the game can be simply recalling the objects, it can then be developed into a more technical. The development of the skills should be gradual and fun. This can be done in a variety of ways.

Variations On Kim’s Game

Changing the format of Kim’s Game isn’t just about keeping the game fresh and fun. The variations

Kim's Game, skills for tracking and life

Kim’s Game, skills for tracking and life

make the person playing observe in different ways, so they start looking at situations from various angles and points of view. It teaches then to see what is in front of them, what is missing and what is out of place.

There are many ways to change the way the game is played.

  • Change the items for an object such as a package with an address, postcode, stamp, return address etc.
  • Let the participants observe a room for a given time then recall a description in detail.
  • Remove items then show the remaining items, participant lists missing items.
  • Present items a various distances.
  • Place distinctive or similar items to distract the participant.

The important thing to remember is to develop these skills in a fun way and take your time, these are skills for tracking and life. Have fun with Kim’s Game.

Perry Mcgee’s Essential Tracking Handbook

Perry mcgee's essential tracking handbook

Perry McGee Essential Tracking Handbook

National Tracking School

I recently got  a book through the post, it was Perry Mcgee’s Essential Tracking Handbook. It is by Perry McGee and his colleague Jamie McGregor who are founder and Senior Tracking and search adviser of the National Tracking School. Prior to reading this book I had read Perry’s first book,  The Tracking handbook, this was an excellent book which I related to, but found it related to my work as a police officer rather than a member of the public. Then I read this book. I have read it from cover to cover and found it the best book on the subject of tracking.

The first thing Perry explains is that tracking is not the best term to use, instead the term sign awareness should be used. Firstly using Sign Awareness opens the field up to the scope that it truly has. When most people thing if tracking they think of following a person or an animal, often hunting animals or finding fugitives. Although these are uses of Sign awareness the field is much wider. If we focus on tracking we will develop tunnel vision and become focused on tracking or following what ever the subject is. That means the operative will more than likely miss the full story being told by the sign.

Perry McGee Essential Tracking Handbook

Perry mcgee's essential tracking handbook

Perry mcgee’s essential tracking handbook


tracking handbook

tracking handbook

This book is essential reading for all people who have an interest in sign awareness. As I police officer I was fortunate to be able to use these skills in various environments. whether it was to protect myself through counter surveillance, following sign to find people or to read crime scenes. Sadly I had little training in the basic policing training, it was through what I learned as a child and later in specialist departments.

As a child I learned through play then through a man called Eddie McGee, yes it was Perry’s Father. He was an great tracker, survival expert and nature lover. He wrote many books and a television series. If I hadn’t been taught basic skills as a child I would never have had the wonderful career I had. The books by Eddie McGee are still available second hand on amazon. I would highly recommend them for children and adults to learn about outdoor skills in a fun, enjoyable way.


In the book Perry McGee’s Essential Tracking Handbook you will find an thorough look at sign awareness that will help people from all backgrounds. Whether you are an adult wanting your child to develop a better understanding of the world around them and/or you want your child to develop skill that will help them in many areas of their lives as children and adults, this book is for you. If you are and adult wanting to learn how to develop your understanding of nature and wildlife, this is the book for you. If you work in law enforcement, this book is for you. What I am saying is this book is a great introduction to all people, through to some advanced methods

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Perry is looking to write some more specialised books for all areas and he also runs some excellent courses at the National Tracking School.

Content of Perry McGee’s Essential Tracking Handbook.

Here is a list of content.

  • Introduction.
  • Glossary of Terms.
  • Chapter One – Basic Searching Skills And Procedures.
  • Chapter Two – Advance Searching Skills And Procedures.
  • Chapter Three – Tactical Searching Skills and Procedures.
  • Chapter Four – Urban Searching Skills and procedures.
  • Chapter Five – Navigational Searching Skills and Procedures.
  • Chapter Six – Search and Rescue Searching Skills and procedures.
  • Chapter Seven – First Aid Responder Skills and Procedures.
  • Chapter Eight – Fugitive Searching Skills and Procedures.
  • Chapter Nine – Counter Evasive Searching and Self-Defence.
  • Chapter Ten – Searching Exercises, Games and Awareness
  • Chapter Eleven – Specialised Discipline and Procedures
  • Appendices – Reference, terms and useful material.

As you can see this is a thorough book that is practical and interesting. Don’t think you are going to learn all the secrets used in Law Enforcement. As Perry points out early in the book some techniques would be beneficial to criminals and need to be kept secret. Perry still does a lot of work especially fighting poachers and that alone should earn the respect of him and James. If you don’t do anything else at the moment visit the website and buy this book and visit the National School of Tracking and see the services and course they offer.

I highly recommend this book as I do any books or courses by Perry Mcgee. If I were to score it, I would say 10 out of 10. When you have heard Perry talk you can hear him talking as you read.

Why Children Should Learn Tracking.

First Aid For Children

First Aid For Kids, Essential Skills

First Aid For Children

First Aid for children is an important subject for children to learn. It doesn’t matter whether the children are involved with bushcraft, nature, outdoors activities or some other activity, First Aid is essential for all children. I hate to type these words but by other activities I mean a tablet, games console, computer or TV. It is something I am passionate about and believe that all children should be taught it as part of the National Curriculum in schools. Doing this I believe it fulfills one of the necessities of First Aid For Children. That is continuity.

Continuity In Teaching First Aid For Kids.

Having a course that lasts a day, a week  or a month is better than nothing. But teaching and enabling practice regularly throughout school means the child will have the skills become natural an automatic response to a given situation. The child will develop and be able to learn new skills when they have mastered the previous. The following is adapted from a system used by the UK Scouting Association, it is a great framework which progresses and builds on the previous level. The early levels start with the basics of what an emergency is, how to get help, reassurance and ensuring their safety and that of the patient.

As with so many other activities people will use the argument that children are too young. Using a system like this gives the child skills  that not only could save a life but gives them confidence and a great platform for them to develop first aid skills from.

It is also good for children to carry a small,  first aid kit.

First Aid For Children – Early Years First Aid.

Moving from one stage to another is nothing to do with age. It is about the young person being comfortable and able to complete the various levels competently before moving to the next level. This model is based on the system used by the scouting association. However the difference is that rather than educating children on short courses each year the training should be continuous. So that it is a natural progression for a child and is a natural life skill. The ideal place for this to start and run is in the schooling system as part of the National Curricullum. This is not the case and few schools teach first aid especially in Primary school. This is something we need to encourage. First Aid saves lives. Everyone needs these skills.

• The importance of getting help

It is important that children start at an early age to understand the importance of getting help at the earliest opportunity whilst keeping themselves and the casualty safe.

• Understand what the emergency services are and their individual roles

Police – Crime, Public Safety, lost people.

Ambulance – Illness and Sickness.

Fire Rescue – Fire rescue from Cars and Emergency Situations.

• What to say when you call 999.

The process of calling 999 and what information they will have to give to the operator.

• Reassurance of a patient.

How a can reassure a patient. Concealing wounds and conversation. This could be a victim of an accident or an ill person.

• Helping someone who is unconscious.

What to do to help and ensure an unconscious is safe whilst help arrives

• Helping someone who is bleeding

Learning about minor cuts and when to apply pressure and raise a limb. Whilst making a patient as comfortable.

• Reassuring someone at the scene of an emergency.


First Aid For Children – stage 2

• Show they are competent at the previous level.

Ability to help a patient who:

• is unconscious.

Knowing how to put a patient in the recovery position, when and why you need to use it.

• Bleeding able to demonstrate how to stop bleeding, clean a wound and apply a dressing.

• How to treat a burn. Using cold water to treat a burn and wht tempory dressings to use.

• How to help someone having an asthma attack.



First Aid For Children – Level 3

At this level, the training starts to become more complex and will take a minimum of three hours training. The young person will learn and show competency in more situations and apply the relevant first Aid Techniques.

•  Show competency in all the areas in the previous levels.Explain and demonstrate how to deal with a patient in the following situations:

• An unconscious casualty

• An unconscious patient who is not breathing

• Patient with various types of bleeding wounds.

How to stop bleeding and give the necessary treatment.

• A patient who has a burn.

How to assess a burn and provide the necessary First Aid Treatment and Care.

• A patient has Hyperthermia or Hypothermia.

How to recognise the symptoms and give the necessary treatment

• is choking.

How to treat patients of various ages who are choking/ have obstruction in their air way.

• is having an asthma attack.

Learn to recognise the symptoms and communicate with a patient go help them self-medicate or get the necessary help.


First Aid For Children – Level 4

At this level, the child will need at least four hours training. However, this is a minimum and the training should be continued until the child is competent.

•  Show competency in all the previous levels.

 Explain and demonstrate how to deal with a patient in the following situations:

• An unconscious casualty

• An unconscious patient who is not breathing

• Patient with various types of bleeding wounds.

• How to stop bleeding and give the necessary treatment.

• A patient who has a burn.

How to assess a burn and provide the necessary First Aid Treatment and Care.

• A patient has Hyperthermia or Hypothermia.

How to recognise the symptoms and give the necessary treatment

• A patient is choking.

How to treat patients of various ages who are choking/ have obstruction in their air way.

• A patient is having an asthma attack.

Learn to recognise the symptoms and communicate with a patient go help them self-medicate or get the necessary help.

• A patient having a heart attack.

Show they know how to recognise the symptoms a person may show who is suffering from a heart attack and how to treat them.

• A patient with a head injury.

How to recognise a patient has a head injury and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help.

• A Patient suspected of having a broken bone.

How to recognise a patient has a suspected broken bone and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help.

• A Patient has a suspected sprain or strain

How to recognise a patient has a suspected sprain or strain and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help.

• A patient has suspected meningitis.

How to recognise a patient has a suspected menigitis and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help


First Aid For Children – stage 5

At this level, the child will need at least six hours training. However, this is a minimum and the training should be continued until the child is competent.

 Explain how you help someone who:

• Explain and demonstrate how to deal with a patient in the following situations:

• An unconscious casualty

• An unconscious patient who is not breathing

• Patient with various types of bleeding wounds.

How to stop bleeding and give the necessary treatment.

• A patient who has a burn.

How to assess a burn and provide the necessary First Aid Treatment and Care.

• A patient has heat Hyperthermia or Hypothermia.

How to recognise the symptoms and give the necessary treatment

• A patient is choking.

How to treat patients of various ages who are choking/ have obstruction in their air way.

• A patient is having an asthma attack.

Learn to recognise the symptoms and communicate with a patient go help them self-medicate or get the necessary help.

• A patient having a heart attack.

Show they know how to recognise the symptoms a person may show who is suffering from a heart attack and how to treat them.

• A patient with a head injury.

How to recognise a patient has a head injury and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help.

• A patient suspected of having a broken bone.

How to recognise a patient has a suspected broken bone and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help.

• A patient has a suspected sprain or strain

How to recognise a patient has a suspected sprain or strain and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help.

• A patient has suspected meningitis.

How to recognise a patient is suspected of having menigitis and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help

• A patient is suspected of having a stroke

How to recognise a patient is suspected of having a stroke and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help

• A patient is experiencing  a diabetic emergency

How to recognise a patient is having a hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic emergency and how to treat it until help arrives.

• A patient is suspected of having a severe allergic reaction

How to recognise a patient is suspected of having a severe allergic reaction and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help

• A Patient suspected of having a seizure.

How to recognise a patient is suspected of having a siezure and what treatment to give whilst waiting for help


Secret Stuff (Being A Spy)- Bushcraft For Kids Children activities, spy kit

Bushcraft For Kids Secret Stuff

Secret Stuff (Being A Spy)-Bushcraft For Kids

Children activities, spy kit


As a Child I loved the idea of being a spy sneaking about following people, a secret identification, gadgets, adventure and subterfuge. For most people it ends as a they grow up into adulthood. I was lucky (In my opinion) I went into the police and ended up working in a department called Special Ops as an Undercover Police Officer. I used a secret identity, used gadgets and had what you could call have adventures. Here is a children activities, spy kit

You may wonder what this has to do with nature and bushcraft. One of the main over laps is tracking, making sure you aren’t followed and being able to follow other people. I spent a lot of time outdoors and no matter where I was I was aware of nature all around me, at times when I was bored I watched what was going on around me.

Children activities, spy kit

I was asked by a boy in a Beaver Group I am a leader of whether I could teach them anything about being a spy.

Bushcraft For Kids Secret Stuff, Children activities, spy kit

Bushcraft For Kids Getting Children Outdoors. Secret Stuff learn new skills

So we looked at animals and nature, all the different signs/spoor that animals leave that tell a story. Not just that they were there but also what they were doing, the same can be done with people. But what is most important is that the children are getting outdoors, learning, about people, animals and new skills whilst having adventure. Here is a Children activities, spy kit. Whilst children are doing this they are also releasing their creativity that will help with problem solving skills.

Each element can be completed in isolation, or as one spy workshop with one or more children. Instructions or each element of the Bushcraft For Kids Secret Stuff (Being A Spy) can be found on the download page or on the pages of the actual download. Once you have made a spy kit you should encourage your children to go outside and play with the Kit.

Along side making this kit it is a  good idea to teach laying a trail and what symbols that can be used to direct someone to a message or to know exactly where you have been. Included is an additional download that will give you a set of symbols children can learn and use with friends. There are a variety of ways to lay the trail using either, stones, sticks, chalk or a combination of all three.


CypherWheel- Bushcraft For Kids Secret Stuff

Build a Cypher Wheel

Bushcraft For Kids – Secret Stuff

How to Send Coded Messages To Other People

Making this simple Cypher Wheel enables someone to send secret messages.

  1. Download PDF.
  2. Print out the download.
  3. Cut out the two disks and fasten them together with a pin or split pin through the middle.
ID Card Template – Bushcraft For Kids Secret Stuff

Credit Card ID Template

Bushcraft For Kids – Secret Stuff.

Download the file and follow the instructions and make your secret ID Card that looks like a credit card. To complete the task at home you will also need some clear sticky plastic to cover the card with.

Spy Tail Log Book – Bushcraft For Kids Secret Stuff

Spy Trail/Tracking Log Book.

Bushcraft for Kids – Secret Stuff

Download and print out this Log book. Then you can keep record of anything that is of importance or relevance to what you are doing as a spy. Whether you are tracking people or animals keeping a record of what you do and see. You can fasten these pages together with staples or piece of string. Alternately keep it in a file.

You don’t need to record everything directly into this log. I would recommend carrying a little notebook and pencil with you all the time. You then can record anything that you want to then put in your Spy Trail Log. You can also record any plants, animals, footprints in this book along with any ideas you have. This means you are less likely to forget things. Using a pencil you can also draw things you want to look up later alternatively you can take a small sample and press it flat until you get an opportunity to look it up in a book or online later.


Spy-Doku-Bushcraft For Kids Secret Stuff


Bushcraft For Kids – Secret Stuff.

This is a fun puzzle involving logic and code breaking skills. It isn’t the easiest puzzle, it is something to be completed with the assistance of a parent.

Spy Through A Keyhole

Build A Fisheye Keyhole Vision Tool

Bushcraft For Kids – Secret Stuff.

This is a very simple tool that was used in the past prior to the invention of fibre optic technology. However this technology is not available to children. This tool can be used to check for movement in a room and isn’t suitable for identification.

Invisible Ink Bushcraft Secrets

Invisible Ink Bushcraft Secrets

Bushcraft For Kids – Secret Stuff

Invisible ink bushcraft secrets, is a great way for children to learn new skills whilst, experiment and learn to improve what they are working on. Download this guide to find out how to make the ink and use it effectively.

How To Make And Use Fingerprint Powder

How To Make And Use Fingerprint Powder

Bushcraft For Kids – Secret Stuff

Simple methods how to make dark contrast fingerprint powder. Children love to collect fingerprints using simple methods. Take care though some methods use candles and heating porcelain bowls. Care should be taken and children should be supervised by a responsible adult at all times.

Free additional tracking download.

Track and Trailing The Secret Way

Tracking and Trailing

Bushcraft For Kids – Secret Stuff

Using tracking and Trailing is a way that was initially taught in the UK by Lord Baden Powell. Using these symbols and signs mean you can lead someone to follow your trail, find messages and much more.  It teaches children to use sign in a positive way and learn skills that help children develop skills that enable them to follow and observe animals and nature.

Laying a trail for others to follow enables children to understand what sign/spoor can be left in the open and hidden away. By using sticks, stones and chalk or a combination of any of these shows a child that signs and marks can be left lots of different ways, some seen openly others hidden away. They can lead friends whilst leaving messages and other information for them to find along the way.

As children learn this they are learning about nature and how animals leave signs about where they have been and where they are going as well as what they have done along the way.




Den Building, Basic Bushcraft Shelters For Kids

Clove Hitch

Den Building, Basic Bushcraft For Kids

When I think back to my childhood den building was something I loved to do. Whether it was permanent dens in trees or hidden away, or temporary dens that lasted a few hours of fun. The main thing I remember is the fun, sometimes it would be cowboys and Indians others, Robinson Crusoe, living out tales or adventure and fun. Other times I would be a spy building a hide to watch my quarry. As time went by these developed into more substantial structures made to keep my friends and I dry and warm whilst we tried to stay outdoors in all weathers.

When I mention we are going to den building or shelters the reaction is always the same, excitement and smiles. If you aren’t confident being outdoors you can start at home either indoors or in the garden and start using cardboard boxes. if you decide to start with cardboard boxes make sure you check the weather. There is nothing worse than cleaning up soggy cardboard and watching your hard work slowly collapse into a soggy mess.

Uses of Den Building/Bushcraft Shelters.

When you build your first shelter it is likely just to be a fun thing to do with your children. When you have finished you will see your children’s imagination come alive, whether they are pirates, marooned men like Robinson Crusoe, Cowboys and Indians, playing with teddy bears and dolls, or what ever the latest television show is about. The point is they get a chance to be outside getting fresh air and having fun whilst using their imagination.

When children are a little older they may be interested in watch wildlife, nature, bushcraft, fishing or some other outdoor activity. Making a simple shelter and camouflaging it can be fun and either keep you dry or out of the sun depending on the weather. In the UK you are likely to have to do both within the space of a day or even a few hours. When you set out bear in mind the colour of the Tarp you are using. Even if you camouflage it orange or fluorescent yellow will still stand out.

The final activity you might like to do with your child is sleep out. Whether it is in your shelter or under the stars, it will be something your child will never forget. I believe every child should experience sleeping out under the stars with their parents at least once. It doesn’t matter where you do it, it can be in the garden or further afield and part of a bigger adventure. What ever you decide to do it will be a memorable time for everyone. Starting in the garden can be good for your first attempt then if it rains or you have any other reason you can retreat indoors.

Being Prepared For Den Building.

The best option is to purchase a few basic items. This will allow you to build a more substantial den/shelter. You can then re-use your den building equipment again and again. You can take it with you to the beach or park and have fun den building anywhere. You could start with a piece of plastic (A Tarp) and a length of Paracord. you would be amazed at the variety of shelters you can make with these two items and a couple of trees. But with a few more items you can do a lot more and learn a few skills along the way.

Here is what you will need for your den building experience:

  1. A piece of plastic, or a “Tarp”;
  2. Paracord;
  3. 6 long pieces of wood, log broom handles are suitable;
  4. Dozen tent pegs.

Remember: When you are building this shelter the size of tarp and the lengths of wood determine the size. Using Broom handles will make your den quite low to the ground, but suitable for young children.

Den building is fun and exciting and gives parents a chance to learn and share with their children. The skills taught here will also give you some basic bushcraft skills you can the develop further and build shelters in the woods.

Den Building Skills.

When you are building a den or a bushcraft shelter you are likely at some point going to need some or all these skills. They are all quite simple and will come in useful when you practice other bushcraft skills with children.

Don’t let these names scare you they are easy to learn with a little practice you will have your “Bushcraft Kid” helping you with these.

Here are some links to get what you need to build shelters and dens with your children. Whether it is in the garden or somewhere further afield in a park or local woodlands.

Clove Hitch

Clove Hitch

Remember  At least two poles are needed for den building, unless you have two conveniently spaced trees. you can use broom handles. Or an alternative more sturdy method using 6  broom handles.

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For some simple simple ideas for shelters visit Basic Den Designs.

If you decide to use Cardboard you can use the Basic Den Designs, but it is best to let the children use their imagination and you to be the chief labourer adding some knotting and lashing skills.

Hazel Tree-Corylus avellana Tree Identification

Hazel Tree

Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Hazel is a relatively common tree and is often found growing along waysides and hedgerows. In the past it was frequently coppiced in various parts of the UK as it naturally forms an understorey. If it is left un-managed it will reach a height of about 12m and live for up to 80 years. If coppiced Hazel can live for several hundred years.

Hazel generally grows with a shrub type of look

Hazel Tree

Hazel Tree

with multiple stems.  It is so bendy in spring that you can  tie it in a knot without it breaking. Another interesting fact is, Bees find it difficult to collect hazel pollen, they can only gather it in small loads. This is due to Hazel pollinating by wind so the pollen is not sticky. The pollen grains actually repel one against the other.


Download our worksheet and look at the examples we give to help learn about tree, identifying trees and uses in bushcraft.


Hazel Leaf

Hazel Leaf

The leaves are distinctive, being oval/racket-shaped with a defined point and are double toothed. The leaves are hairy on the underside and have a rough texture. In Autumn the leaves turn yellow and fall from the tree. Leaf buds are oval, blunt and hairy.


Male Catkins Hazel Tree

Male Catkins Hazel Tree

Hazel is monoecious. That means a tree will have both male and female flowers. However Hazel flowers must be pollinated by pollen from other hazel trees. The Hazel tree has catkin flowers. the male catkins are yellow and hang in clusters before the leaves, from mid-February. Female flowers are tiny and bud-like with red styles.







The fruits are hazelnuts, these are well known and easy to identify.


This is smooth, grey-brown, and peels with age. As mentioned previously the new stems and bark is bendy. New stems are hairy. Leaf buds are oval, blunt and hairy.


To identify Hazel in winter. Each nut is held in a short leafy husk, this encloses about three quarters of the nut.  During the Autumn you may also see small green catkins.

Caution This Trees is often confused with Elm.

Uses Of Hazel In Bushcraft.

  • Straight poles for making anything from tent pegs to camp gadgets,
  • An excellent source of withies for strong bindings,
  • thatching spars,
  • Cordage,
  • net stakes,
  • water divining sticks,
  • hurdles and furniture,
  • Hazel was also valued for its nuts, or ‘cobs’,
  • Weaving, fish traps and baskets.

Hazels Place In Nature.

Hazel has an important place in nature. In provides food for the caterpillars of many moths, including the large emerald, small white wave, barred umber and nut-tree tussock.

In managed woodland where hazel is coppiced, it supports many species of butterfly, especially fritillaries. Coppiced hazel provides a habitat for ground-nesting birds such as the nightingale, nightjar, yellowhammer and willow warbler to have shelter.

Hazel is a big part of the diet for the dormouse (a.k.a. hazel dormouse). These enable the dormice to fatten up for hibernation. Then in spring the leaves are eaten by various caterpillars, which are then food for dormice.

Hazel nuts are part of many birds diet, for example, woodpeckers, nuthatches, tits, wood pigeons, jays, plus various small mammals. As mentioned previously Hazel flowers provide early pollen for Bees which is vital food.

Finally the Hazel tree provides an environment for many, mosses, lichen and fungi. The trunk is a place for mosses, liverworts and lichens to grow. The soil surrounding The Hazel tree is home for the fiery milkcap fungi to grow.

Hazel trees are a great tree and provides resources, for people, animals and the environment.