Survival: Why Primitive Camping Gives You Valuable Skills

Primitive camping means a lot of different things to different people.

For my demonstration today I’m referring to what my husband and I call primitive camping. This means backpacking into the wilderness and setting up a camp with what we’ve carried in, including building a fire for warmth, finding and filtering water, cooking over a one burner stove, and sleeping in a tent with sleeping bags. Tent out in the woodsIt also means knowing the local wildlife and taking precautions with our food, such as using a bear canister and bringing nothing into our tent with a scent.

So in this instance I’m not talking about going into the wilds, with only a knife, to live off the land.

But then, neither am I referring to camping in a giant RV complete with power and toilets and TV reception.

As you read, think about each skill set and consider how it could help you cope easier during a natural disaster or emergency scenario…

There are plenty of people with far more knowledge about primitive camping than I have. But my point here is that by getting out in nature, at any level, and learning how to cope without modern conveniences gives you a skill set you’ve probably never had before, which will build your confidence over time. Heck, just being outside in nature and changing weather patterns is a whole new experience for most people. You’ll find yourself invigorated and eager to learn more.

Sometimes Hubby and I end up camping in a structured campground in a park, but we can still keep it pretty primitive by using a tent for sleeping, and cooking over a fire. If we’re really not roughing it, we’ll bring a two-burner camp stove. But no matter where or how we end up camping, it always gives us the wonderful opportunity to work on our wilderness survival knowledge and practice new skills.

Here’s a list of skills I’ve added to my self-reliance knowledge base over time:

  • Understand how to choose a suitable site for my camp based on my surroundings, the weather conditions, local animal population and nearness of a water supply.
  • Well practiced at quickly setting up and taking down a tent.
  • Alternate ways to make & find shelter without a commercial tent.
  • Know various ways to use natural materials for insulation & warmth.
  • Can find, gather and treat water to make it safe to drink.
  • Know which natural materials make good tinder and kindling for a fire.
  • Knowledge of different types of wood and their burning properties.
  • Have multiply ways to make fire with or without matches.
  • Can safely build, maintain and extinguish a fire for warmth and cooking.
  • Know how to cook over an open flame, as well as various camp stoves.
  • Know how to fish in a lake or stream.
  • Can identify common edible “weeds” and plants.
  • Can identify common poisonous plants and how to treat conditions.
  • Know basic first aid and how to use a medical kit.
  • Understand the basics of sanitation and health issues of unsanitary conditions.
  • Practice “leave no trace” camping —pack out what you bring in.

Do you see why knowing even one of these skills can give you more self-reliance in an emergency or disaster scenario?

I hope this inspires you to try your hand at camping or to at least get out into nature. If you feel more comfortable in a camper–in a structured park setting, then go for it. But during each trip, try some different skills. Start out simple and build from there and soon you’ll be surprised at how much knowledge and experience you’ve garnered!


Do you love to camp? Will you give it a try?



  1. Mike Sirota

    I love to camp out–as long as the hotel has at least three stars. 🙂

    • indy

      Ha! I thought of you when I posted this! :0)

  2. Jill G. Hall

    When I was young I thought sleeping in a tent was romantic. We used to car camp and set as far away from other people. There’s nothing like hearing raindrops on the canvas. I also loved to sleep right outside under the stars too. Haven’t done either in a long time.

    • indy

      Thanks for sharing this Jill! Yes, I love to listen to the rain as well. As a teenager I slept outside the tent. Were we braver then? Or just more innocent? :0)

  3. suad campbell

    I’m with Mike on the camping hotel. I’ve only been camping once, and it was with a friend and her family in their camper, smack jab next to everyone else’s campers. And I was still scared of bears! I like to read your articles and hear your comments about camping, though because I get the experience vicariously through you. And if I didn’t hate roughing it so much, I’d give it a try!

    • indy

      Ha! Yeah, I guess camping isn’t for everyone, Suad. I really do get a kick out of seeing what I can do without and living as simply as possible. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and belief in myself – to see what I can do when I try. At this age, it’s wonderful to discover that I am still fit and strong. And when we return home to running water and hot showers I always feel as though we live as kings! :0)



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