This is a post for me. Maybe it will benefit some of you as well. :)
How much should you involve your kids when doing self reliance/preparedness type activities? My opinion (of course every thing I write here is my opinion) is that they should be very involved. For example, our 72 hour emergency kits . . .
I'm not the best at following my own advice--every time I update the emergency kits I face a moral dilemma--do I do it quickly and neatly while the kids are in school/playing with a friend/etc., or do I do it when they are home and have parts of the kits strewn all over the house as I'm trying to swap out the clothes in them? I've done both (depending on my mood that day--if one more mess is going to push me into a breakdown I do it without them). But I want them to know what is in the kits, what they are for, what they are not for, etc. I want them to know where their kit is kept and how to use what's in it. Take away the mystery and you take away the curiosity. Involve them, let them ask questions, and then when the mystery backpack is under their bed, they feel no need to get it out and eat the candy in it (well, at least not quite as often).
Another example is the garden. Let (or is it make?) the kids help you plant, weed, water, pick stuff etc. Sure, you will have crooked rows with bald patches in them and almost ripe veggies picked when you were really looking forward to eating that tomato in 2 more days, but the kids will learn what a garden takes and witness the miracle of food coming from seeds. I read a story once about a guy who took his kids with him to work in his potato fields and his neighbor asked, "why do you take your kids with you? Doesn't it take twice as long with them there?" To which the man replied, "I'm not raising potatoes, I'm raising kids." I really have to remind myself of this when I have the urge to answer the question, "can I help?" with "yeah, you can help by getting out of the way." Really, some times it is twice as exhausting and takes twice as long, but find a way to let them help you.
And the satisfaction they get when they did it is fantastic to witness. My 7 year old just opened her first can with a manual can opener the other night and she was so excited about it she wanted to tell everyone in the family! Now, I could have quickly and easily run that can through the electric can opener and told her I didn't have anything for her to do, but I got creative, listened to my own advice, and found a way to let her help.
Moral of the post is it is worth it to get the kids involved, it really is. Really. You'll be happy in the end when your kids hopefully grow up a little more self reliant and responsible. (At least that's my hope . . . )