Questions and Answers with The Wolf Pack : Bugging out with kids?

My name is Nikki and I’m a single mom of 3 kids. I just started prepping and was wondering if there were tips you could give for women who prep with kids. My plan is to “bug in” if its feasible. Fortunately I live in a rural area and have enough to live off the land. However, if I have to bug out to the woods with 3 kids ages 10, 14 and 15 what skills do I need to learn now? Thank you in advance for any tips!

Nikki from Oklahoma


  1. Tactical G-Ma says:

    I no longer have children at home but spent years as a team mom or class mom and took many trips with a herd in tow.
    With kids 10, 14, and 15, they are old enough to train in every aspect of survival and self-reliance. That doesn’t mean they are ready to be unsupervised. They all should have weapons skills. Bows, guns, sling shot, e.g. And they should be proficient with loading, firing, clearing, and maintaining their weapons. They should know how to forage and easily be able to identify edible and poisonous. They need to practice the buddy system and learn greyman and camouflage technics. Course each should carry a ghb or bob having a lifestraw and a small first aid kit. And all should be able to use a compass and be able to read a map. Old school cause if it’s grid down there won’t be ipads!

    I’m sure others have more or better suggestions.

    God bless and keep prepping.

    • Nikki
      Tactical G-Ma has hit it on the head. Since there are no helpless toddlers in the group, each should be trained with a minimum set of skills, with the list given as a good start. Firearms training (with a certified instructor through NRA, Scouting, 4H, or Appleseed) can be not only a good start; but, a confidence booster. My DD started shooting at 5 and my stepsons were both shooting by age 8, and all are still shooters, including one trained by the marines as a sniper.. Kids can be very fragile, or very resilient, depending on both their individual personality and their self esteem and self confidence. Self esteem and confidence can be built by doing real things and learning and practicing real skills. In training we tell people, that under stress, a human generally does not rise to the occasion; but, drops to their highest level of training and skill. This is no different for children, so stressing them in a safe training environment will go a long way to allowing them to cope with stress if the real thing happens. You of course know your kids best, but these general guidelines can I think always be helpful.

      • I agree with ohio prepper. I think 4h would be an excellent place for not only your kids to start but you too mom. Kids can learn a lot in 4H. Useful skills that not only help you prepare but help them to prepare for themselves as well

  2. hvaczach says:

    In essence all of them. Surviving in the woods especially with children on your own is not really practical. Living in the elements is very difficult even for the most trained and skilled outdoors people. You will need shelter more than a tent, readily made fire, dutch ovens and other cast cookware, and the ability to find something to put into said cook-ware. Defense how many in the party can and will be trained with firearms, bows, etc. You can’t pull watch yourself 24 hours a day. Prepping with a set place to live in a regular dwelling poses problems enough but in the elements compound that 500%.

    • I agree with hvaczach. If your kids learn to camp, how to safely make fires (and how to put them out, how to break camp without leaving a trace) and cook, they’ll feel more confident. The problem with acquiring these skills is that they don’t amount to much unless they are practiced. So maybe that means family camping without the iPods.
      Bugging in is a better idea, because having shelter is really important (you don’t know how long an “emergency” will be). If you want your kids to be better prepared for an emergency, have them learn first aid, learn how and where latrines are built, all about purifying water, how to can food, how to garden, and all about heirloom seeds. Some of these things fall into the PC speak world they experience in school (heirloom seeds and gardening become “non-GMO and being stewards of the earth” and first aid becomes “caring for others and giving forward”) so that makes it easy to blend into what their friends are doing(go grey). You can give them an area to become an expert in (let them choose) and if you assist them in getting the information that they need and support them in gaining experience, then you will not have to learn everything yourself (of course you have to monitor what they are doing, so you can ask them to teach you what they’ve learned and ask them what do they think the family should do in that area). It’s good for teens to have responsibility at home and gain capabilities with learning and experience so they will have confidence in an emergency. Read “one second after” and imagine life without electricity. Have them read it. What do they think about it? Grid-down is a highly possible emergency, regardless if the cause is hurricane, human error-caused blackout, or EMP.

  3. James Page says:

    They will have to learn to listen to you and do what you tell them for starters.

  4. Donna in MN says:

    I agree with tactical Gma. Training in weapons could be used in hunting as well. I used to do primitive camping, set a lean-to with 10 oz waterproof canvas, sticks and rope. I always brought my daughter starting when she was 7 and took her friends. Then we got a TiPi which gave us more protection from the elements, but a lean-to does provide a lot, is light weight, and easy to carry. Plus it can be made into other shapes. The kids were taught how to start a fire, gather/catch wild food, and cook meals in one pot using sticks to hold one pot over the fire.

    If you and the kids bugout it is very important to have knowledge to gather/hunt food because eventually the fritos, soup cans, and protein bars will soon be devowered. Practice and experience, not just reading books, will see you through.

    Enroll the kids into hunting clubs-many have archery classes, beginner gun safety and target practicing, even knife and tomahawk throwing for kids.

    Look for naturalist classes to identify the plants (edible or poisonous) .
    Some church camps boy-girlscouts, 4-H, and YMCA/YWCA offer outings and crafting, fishing, swimming, and camping instruction. Some are sponsored by the state at state parks and forests.

    • hvaczach says:

      Can not agree more! my seven year old can describe to you how to build a proper fire, have not allowed him to light said fire yet (maybe this year) but he knows how and why it works! He also shoots a 22 rifle that is at least 3 inches too long for his arms ( a real stretch to reach the trigger) with 50% plus accuracy into a milk jug (I assume it will improve when reaching the trigger and sighting it in is not a 2 part process, and when the rifle does not feel like a lead-sled)! We camp as often as we can during the summer and try and make every outing a learning experiance.

  5. Well, your starting out right, getting a plan together. As TGMa said better than I, the kids need skills. They also need to know WHY, it will help them do it because the want to.

    That being said, living “off the land” isn’t easy. Many have that as their “plan”, but little else. These folks won’t make it a month. And you will need specific skills for your area. The woodland skills and equipment that will keep you alive in TN, will get you killed in MT. And I am sure the opposite is true. I base this off my conversations with our Search and Rescue guys. Most of the people they have had to go get during hunting season, have experience, just somewhere else. It’s easy to get overwhelmed here.

    We have a “bug out” option, but I sure hope I never have to use it.

  6. Northernwolf says:

    I don’t have small kids as both are grown up but with mine both are special needs adults and live away from home,so I have figure out how to get to them with or with out my truck in case something happens and all the supplies we will need ,if I go back to my place or bug out.and they both live in different places.

  7. Jacksonmom says:

    So.. what do people suggest for those with young families?

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      Obviously, the needs of young children are going to be dependant on the child.
      I would think a good bug out plan would include a garden cart, preferably collapsible, in the event the cars don’t work. I remember traveling with mine and having to take half the house. I’d fix up a bag for each, not much different from a diaper bag on steroids. Wipes,drink, snack, change of clothes and shoes, meds. Now I do not advocate doping children but if you are having to sneak through a marauding hoarde and a child crying is not good. So, stuff like dimetapp, benadryl, and tylenol should be in your kit.
      30 years ago we traveled cross country in a pickup truck with a cap on it. There was a sliding window in the cab rear window. All our gear was pushed back to the rear of the bed and a bedroom was set up for the kids. the kids went in and out thru the window and the oldest passed the baby forward whenever he needed changing. Bugging out with small children will be a whole different animal. Don’t forget a playpen or portable pet corral and a harness and leash for each. There’s just too much at risk to leave anything to chance. For water a katadyn filter and jugs or camelbaks will be important plus whatever water you can carry. I think baby cereal and formula powder or powdered milk and dried fruit and cereal will probably be the best for keeping their tummys feeling full and will we light weight if it has to be carried. Oh and carry electrolyte mix. Does pediolyte have a powder if not you need to carry salt/soda and sugar to mix your own.

  8. Glacier-Blue says:

    Nikki you are one of the smart ones in looking for help before it’s needed. If you are able, pick up a copy of “One Second After”, you can find it on Amazon. This is a real eye opener on what we all may face with a major disruption to our way of living.
    You and your kids should take whatever classes, courses or training that will help you develop your survival skills. Sources for training include your local colleges, your gun stores, Latter Day Saints, Red Cross, Fire Stations, and the internet. My advice would be to stay where you are in the event of a major disaster since you are in familiar surroundings. If you must leave then you relocate to a previously determined location. One that you have visited, lived in, or camped on, and one that isn’t 1000 miles away. The things that you will need are shelter, food, water, clothing, and sanitation. Get the kids directly involved in helping to make decisions and plan for the change. Ideally you would relocate to a small cabin on a few acres, but most things in our lives are not ideal. Just remember if you drive to your location you will leave sign such as tire markings on dirt roads, and your vehicle will be visable from the air, unless you park it under a thick tree canopy or in a cave. Smoke from a cooking or heating fire will not only be visible but the odor will also carry on the wind for many miles. In my way of thinking the best bug out location for you in OK would be a natural cave or an abandoned mine. The internet should help in locating those near your present home. Inside a cave or a mine, the temperature would be more even during the year, and the heat and smoke from your fires would not be as detectable compared to a tent or cabin. You would still have to wrestle with food, water, and sanitation, and whatever you chose you should always plan on having a rear door available no matter where you locate.
    Good Luck!

  9. Well at least they’re old enough to carry their own backpack.

    Do they prep with you already? They really should. You should buy them a prepaid credit-card, give them a list of stuff to buy and send them “into the wild” to make their own BOBs. Then, take a weekend each month to train together and develop skills that you think are the most important.

  10. Exile1981 says:

    I started my kids on bow skills at age 5-6 (depending on the child), they enjoyed doing target archery. By age 8 they had some experience with pellet guns and at age 10 they started on a 22lr single shot rifle. Usually around 10 they learned to start a fire with matches or flint and they put there first emergency kit together for hiking in the woods.

  11. Nikki chambers says:

    Thanks everyone for the tips! Yes they currently prep with me. We all know how to handle firearms and my daughter knows how to use reloading equipment to reload spent ammo rounds and she is only 10. I make it a point to grow and store medicinal herbs and have learned to make remedies. I know basic first aid but teaching them is my next priority. I’m 10 miles outside of town on a dirt road and there is a cave nearby but as soon as the weather clears we are going to get the mountain bikes out and check other locations in case we do have to leave our home. I’m absolutely going to hone the outdoor skills with my kids and practice just in case it comes to that. Thank you again for all the tips!

    • Sounds like your 10 year old is awesome. I started my son young on reloading at 8. Even though he doesn’t do much of it now he still knows how. God speed Nikki and keep prepping. Your babies depend on you for guidance. One other thing you may do is very cautiously look for other single moms in your area that prep also and form a group. Nothing says a prepping group needs to be run by a man. Remember cautiously though.

      • Nikki chambers says:

        Mike, I would love to find other like minded single moms. A group is a great idea. And thank you, she is quite awesome! God bless you and thanks for the idea of a group!

  12. Jacksonmom says:

    I must admit these are fantastic ideas. I guess it’s time for a mountain bike… my kiddos are 8 soon to be 7 and 3 1/2. My youngest gives me concerns in that she has a heavy duty speech impediment that will more than likely hinder her throughout her life. I admit, I have been primarily an armchair prepper… I do pick stuff up from the store when I can. We have chickens and ducks and we garden, but I’ve been lax on teaching my kids. I homeschool my kids and that takes a lot of time away from other things. We are in scouts but after this year we will work through the books as needed and not as part of the scouts.

    Does anyone have any good suggestions for a book (preferably in color) on medicinal herbs for beginners? Something I can learn with my kiddos?

    • Lake Lili says:

      Hi Jacksonmom,

      I homeschool my almost 9 year old and we have been prepping for a number of years now. I found the original 1911 boy scout hand book to be a fantastic teaching tool as are almost all of the Popular Mechanics books (the 1924 one for farmers is goldmine). Monkey is excellent on the knowledge but not so good yet with the implementation.

      I’m sorry that I don’t have an herbal book to recommend but if you go down to your local health food store or co-op, they may know of someone who teaches about edible herbs and plants in your area, so that your kids learn about what is safe in their neck of the woods.

      I love teaching this stuff to Monkey and watching him apply it in his life. We are still in the tick of winter here but we have been going through his mini-BOB getting it ready for spring. Have you and yours put them together yet?

      Would love to chat further, MD can give you my email address if you want to.

  13. Lake Lili says:

    Hi Nikki,
    Hats off to you managing 3 on your own! Don’t have a huge number of additions to make to what the others have so well expressed. But as a side note your two older ones are old enough to start to apprentice or do co-ops through their school. Could be something as flexible as like helping out on a neighbour’s farm, or as organized as working for a local vet. They might also begin to look at part-time jobs – one at the local grocery store or co-op might give them discounts and allow them to contribute to the family stores. Also if you have a community college near you, a lot of them now offer interest courses in everything from wood lot or sugar bush management to poultry to sustainable and guerilla gardening. A neighbour here in our community had all five of her children adopt a couple seniors in our neighbourhood. They visit them several times a week. Her 10-year old can now knit and sew, darn socks and make jam. Skills taught her by an old soldier.

    If you want to chat further MD can pass along my email address.

  14. jamullins says:

    I spent some time in both eastern europe and in western africa in places where refugees were common due to the loss infrastructure and, often, the very lands the people lived on. Quite often these refugees were the women and children left behind after the father went off to war and never returned.

    One of the fundamental problems with children in any survival situation is that they required a high degree of supervision. We all feel that our children are different, but even teens need supervision. The reason is because children lack the understanding and discipline that, as parents, we take for granted because it is something we are accustomed to.

    Children will do things to occupy themselves when bored, children will be targeted by other people as labor (or amusement), and children do not understand their limitations in the same manner as adults do. This means that children require supervision, this takes time and effort from the other responsibilities of the parent (s). Even with children helping out around camp and doing it well, showing real responsibility at what age will you let them go off on their own to hunt, or gather, retrieve water, check traps, gather firewood, or any other of dozens of chores that we think of as no-worry tasks.

    What will you do if your child tries to carry to much fire wood back to camp on their own and suffers back strain? Or a sprained ankle? Or breaks a finger or thumb? It’s the same trust issue associated with letting children work with power tools or firearms without supervision. When are they safe enough?

    What will you do if your child falls in a stream on a cold day and begins suffering hypothermia? Even close to camp you now have to immediately deal with this situation. Do you feel comfortable leaving other children unsupervised while you jump into a sleeping bag for several hours with the suffering child?

    The issue isn’t can the children handle it. Of course they can, children are remarkably adaptable. The issue is that children haven’t had the time to develop the knowledge, skills, and character to be truly independent in life. The children that I witnessed overseas usually came in two varieties; those that were raised alongside their parents working and learning and those that were raised separately from their parents through codling or impractical expectations.

    Those children who were raised with their parents were better suited for the harsh times they endured. They were more responsible, harder working, and took direction more readily. These children were better socialized, more mature, and work better in a group.

    While children who raised separately from their parents would not mind their parents well, often took up with other children who were unruly, displayed independence to the point of contrariness, and were often selfish and deceptive to other siblings and their parents.

    If you are going into the woods to learn to live and thrive, take your kids and include them in everything. If you feel it is necessary for you then it is necessary for them as well. Your own learning should not be a separate vacation for the kids. Children raised in this manner will manner will be better able to accept, an understand, what they need to do during the hard times.

  15. mom of three says:

    I can’t let our kid’s know about weapons, right now. Being in public school, and Dr. Office, ask if we have gun’s in the home. When you have insurance, those are the questions, they ask you I let my kid’s answer because it’s always no. I want to get out hiking short trip rounds our area to get accustomed, to walking. Camping, is another activitie we need to do more of in the cold, and wet,since that’s what we are up against 9 months a year.

    • Encourager says:

      You CAN tell them it is none of their business, mom of three. We did. And the doctor agreed.

  16. Nikki,
    If you have any boys, consider Boy Scouts. My son was able to throw tomahawks, learn archery, shoot 22 rifles and shotguns, learn first aid, hike and backpack overnight, car camp, rock climb, build and shoot rockets, build an electric light, learn carpentry skills, fire starting, knot tying, cook on a fire and a cook stove, operate a lantern, filter water, and so many other skills…all in Boy Scouts. I did most of it with him.

  17. Patti, my 14 and 15 year old boys know how to hunt, firearm safety and fishing. My daughter knows how to handle firearms and reload as well and she has fishing skills. Right now their skills are limited in first aid and I plan to remedy that. I have actually scheduled a “bug in” exercise next month. I haven’t told them because the idea is for them to be caught off guard. We will see just how ready we are. Does anyone else here practice a bug in?

  18. Nikki,
    I am a single mom of two boys and can speak from experience what it takes to get your boys ready to tackle life. Boy scouts has been a HUGE blessing to my boys who not only learned survival basics, but were around good, quality men as role models to see how natural it is to live the motto “be prepared”. I took them out on nature walks and found my then 3 and 5 year olds loved to climb. A backpack was a natural way to enjoy outings filled with water, compass, food, etc. Ten years later they still love it. It just takes you finding a couple of fun places to go nearby where you live and
    your participation is the key! Bikes for all of you are mandatory and we just rode around our small town and bike trails. I began early with them (particularly my older son) talking about what we would need as emergency supplies. I asked them to make a list with me and we slowly gathered supplies over time. Camping wasn’t my thing but the boy scouts camp once a month and all you need are sleeping bags, while they usually have the backpacks and tents to use. I had pitched a tent for the boys in the back yard and that gave us lots of fun, even gave my boys indepence sleeping overnight in the backyard with and eventually without me. My backyard chickens were real responsibility for them to feed scraps to and collect eggs. A guard dog was a smart move because she guarded them anywhere they went and gave me peace of mind being alone in the house with two young children. Guns, sling shots and bow & arrows were always around from day one. Another thing I did was not get tv and only a DVD player to control what they watched. Books were a big thing for my youngest and I read bible stories at night. Putting them in a small private christain school was a great foundation as well as a few years homeschooling. Talking about what I learned with the kids let all of us talk about our family in positive ways and enforced our core family values.
    Church is a given, but remember it starts at home praying a dinner and saying nightly bedtime prayers. Positive reinforcement and strict rules with lots of love can make your kids into well adjusted happy adults. Never speak negatively about their father and reinforce tis by telling them constantly that mommy and daddy both love them very much. Make a set of family rules and write them down. Those times when you are ready to break, go into your room alone and take a bubble bath to regroup. Your mom and dad to them which is really hard but you CAN do it and produce loving, well adjusted children that are a delight to you nd those around you. I’m living proof and walk the walk everyday.

  19. jacksonmom says:

    Boyscouts is only as good as your local pack. Our local cub scout pack lacks well… everything. I am actually withdrawing my kiddos at the end of this year since I can teach them better.

    • Encourager says:

      jacksonmom, you are correct. We had a great pack, until the Scoutmaster retired due to a very sick wife. My husband and I were very active in the pack – he was an assistant scoutmaster and I was the merit badge person. One of the other assistant scoutmasters finally agreed to become the Scoutmaster (my dh was working weekends and overtime so felt he could not take it on). Turned out the new guy was an atheist, and even though the pack was sponsored by a local church and met there, he stopped any and all references to God. Then on a week-long camping trip, he screwed up a kid’s meds. The meds were given to the nurse at the main building (Scout camp) but he went and got them. He gave them one day, skipped a few days, then gave the kid a triple dose and when the kid could not wake up in the morning, he had the other kids dump water on his head while he was in his sleeping bag.

      When all this came to our attention we, and other parents, filed complaints at the head quarters but nothing was done. We pulled our children out of scouts after that.

  20. jacksonmom says:

    I don’t think that being an athiest has anything to do with stupidity and certainly the guy sounds stupid. I don’t necessarily follow Christianity and feel as though those who do often press their beliefs on those who don’t. It’s an incredibly frustrating feeling. Please keep in mind that not everyone is a Christian. So your assessment that because he was an athiest he was stupid is actually insulting.

    Yes, the church is the sponsoring organization but scouts is a nondenominational entity. That means that they can’t press religion onto others. I do have issues that the guy stopped references to God if it was the predominantly Christian pack. Certainly discussion should have ensued if there were issues. I have found that discussion is often neglected when there were issues in our pack. I am surprised that there were not safety precautions in place for the child with medical needs. Also, where were the other adults when this man was pouring water on the child? Scouts requires two adults present at all times.

    Anyway, I digress. I do agree with your assessment that scouts is only as good as the adults running it.

    • Encourager says:

      The other adult was accompanying scouts to the showers.I did not say the scoutmaster was stupid, you did. I was not attacking your beliefs or lack thereof.

      Let’s just drop this.

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