By situational awareness I mean (but certainly don't limit it to):

  • Looking behind to familiarize yourself with the return journey.
  • Looking ahead to see what the best route will be.
  • Knowing the approximate time of day.
  • Knowing your approximate location.
  • Keeping one eye on the sky for incoming weather.
  • Being aware of how the group as a whole and each individual is doing.

This is one of those skills that I have more absorbed through experience then been taught by others, so what are some tips for teaching people these skills?

  • One possibility is to have intermediate goals for the day: For example, by 10:00 we should be at the first waterfall; by noon we should we at X, and so on. Then check to see where you and adjust your plan accordingly. For example: "It looks like rain; we'll stop at 5:00 -- where will we be then?" These can be brief discussions which you guide and in which everyone participates.
    – ab2
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 3:46
  • Kids can learn situational awareness skills through well thought out games
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 3:55

1 Answer 1


One can always pass on the various techniques of situational awareness to others while in the outdoors by simply sharing your knowledge while hiking!

In order to be good teachers, we must be versed enough in this art in order to pass on the knowledge we have learned.

Some universities offer courses which include situational awareness within their particular course. An example would be 2014 Outdoor Council of Canada (OCC) Leadership course offered by UBC which contains the following in its course content:

◾Understanding the role of the leader and leadership styles

◾Integrating ‘activity,’ ‘participant,’ and ‘venue’ characteristics to promote event quality and safety

◾Constructing an activity plan

◾Identifying hazards and mitigation strategies

◾Communication and team building between participants, co-leaders and other stakeholders

◾Group management in the field

◾Enhancing situational awareness for quality and safety management

◾Emergency response

◾Post-trip debriefing and facilitation.

The following course was designed and developed at the request the Discovery Channel: INTRODUCTION TO OUTDOOR SURVIVAL (IOS)

Focusing on the basic points of four-season survival, the course begins with the construction of a personal survival kit and the importance of situational awareness and progresses through the skill sets of basic navigation, water acquisition, signaling, primitive fire building methods and shelter construction. THIS IS A FIELD COURSE. Students should dress and prepare for outdoor, mountainside conditions.

As for teaching others the need for situational awareness we could use games (as for children). For Example:

The Right Way to… Game: This game teaches your kids how to get home or to another destination. Have them pick out landmarks that identify the route. Also, have them give you directions to wherever it is that you’re going. Make it fun and offer a reward for getting it right. Do the same thing when you’re camping or hiking by picking out identifying landmarks such as trees or rocks.

Teach kids the S.T.O.P. acronym: Stop, Think, Observe, Plan.

Stop the minute that they realize that they’re lost.

-Think about what’s happened. It’s easy for a kid to panic but if they know that they’re going to be scared, they may be more ready for it. They need to stop and think about the situation, which will help with the next step.

-Observe. Where are they? What’s around them? What’s in their pockets or backpack that they can use to help themselves? Finally,

-Plan. Figure out what to do. Should they blow their whistle or hide? Are they close to your meet-up point? Is it safe for them to move? They need to build a solid plan based upon what you’ve taught them. SO TEACH THEM. - Teaching Survival Skills to Children

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