Which Kids Would Most Likely Survive the Collapse of Civilization?

Written by Sami Grover

They say the children are our future, so it’s kind of a shame that we are trashing the planet for them. That said, even if we do manage to totally screw over our civilization, there are some pretty resourceful young people out there.

We’re putting our money on these kids, come the apocalypse.

Austin Hayes, tiny house builder

Austin Hayes’ project to build himself a mortgage-free home is as inspiring as it is refreshing. Working in his backyard, he crafted a beautiful tiny house which he planned to take with him when he headed off to college. The best part? He did it while generating almost zero trash.

Abigail Osborne, 5-year-old survival specialist

Paul Osborne is a survival specialist. So it’s no surprise that his 5-year-old, Abigail, is also learning about how to survive in the woods. As part of a school project, the father-and-daughter duo put together a survival kit that would help keep her safe if she gets lost. What’s not included in the kit—rope, knives etc—is as interesting as what is included. And Paul does a good job of explaining the importance of psychological comfort and keeping a child occupied—after all, staying put and waiting for help is one of the most important pieces of advice that a young child alone in the woods can heed.

The Ebel Brothers, teen floating home builders

I posted on the Ebel family’s efforts to build a 12-person floating home/workshop last week. While some folks were skeptical of the boat’s ocean worthiness, it’s hard to argue that the skills being learned by the Ebel boys aren’t valuable, and all too rare, in a world where almost everything can be purchased at the store.

Teen moms, urban farmers

Detroit is not exactly a picture of new urbanist utopia, but it does have a lot of vacant land. And a growing number of would-be farmers are taking that land and turning it into vibrant, urban farms. One effort to create well paid jobs for teen mothers was highlighted in the documentary Grown In Detroit. It sure does help to be able to grow your own food when civilization collapses.

Boyan Slat, garbage patch harvester

When resources are scarce and supply chains disrupted, we’ll need to make do with what we have. And what we have is a whole lot of trash. True, actually building one of Boyan Slat’s gigantic devices to harvest plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be much harder if the apocalypse ever really does come to pass (and there are anti-plastics pollution campaigners who claim it is a pointless, even dangerous, pipe dream even now), but we’ll bet that a kid this resourceful has a few other clever tricks up his sleeve too. We still want him on our side when the gas pumps start to run dry.

This post was originally published in TreeHugger

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago


Myriam G.
Myriam G4 years ago

These kids are really great. I love their initiaves. But, I think in case of a major collapse of civilization, the child with the best chance to survive would be the little girl in that movie "Beast of the Southern Wild".
Like she says, she's "the man"!!!

Stephen Greco
Jason T4 years ago

Surely you could have found an excuse to mention these children and their accomplishments without bringing up a hypothetical apocalypse that would kill most of them off? The collapse of civilization means that the majority of all people would die, so no one's chances are particularly good. Even the most skilled survivalists could find themselves killed by the initial disaster, or gunned down later.

Some of these kids may have some advantage, like Osborne assuming the hypothetical collapse of society is still a few years off and she has time to mature and hone her skills. Others like Slat have virtually no advantage at all. (not that I don't respect what he's doing)

Still, thanks for sharing. These stories are interesting, and you were right to use a flashy, attention-grabbing title; otherwise a lot of people, myself included, wouldn't have checked this article out. At times there is something to be said for being overly-dramatic.

Jacinta S.
Jacinta S4 years ago

Probably most children would deal with it a lot better than some of the adults... kids are for the most part resourceful, adaptable and practical, whereas many of their adult counterparts (in this part of the world, anyways) tend to be cowardly, neurotic and unable to deal with change in comparison.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago

Good luck one and all...

Kathleen R.
Kathleen R4 years ago

Thanks for the inspiring news.

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck4 years ago

Very cool! Thanks :)

Kathy K.
Kathy K4 years ago

Interesting story and these are great kids. I hope there are many more like them out there.

Ryan b.
Ryan B4 years ago

Very few if any kids in the USA would survive the collapse. Our kids today are too worried about electronic devices and being "bullied" that they would get stomped out of existence. Sixty years ago people in this country would stand up for themselves when bullied. We did when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. It's no wonder other countries try to come in and exploit us. We are all a bunch of pansies so worried about our feelings rather than right and wrong. Sometimes a punch in the nose is needed to get someone's attention and to get them to leave you alone.

Deb Ryan
Deb Ryan4 years ago