You Are At Your Retreat — What Now?, by D.H.

Many of us have plans to get our family and friends to a retreat once the Schumer hits the fan (SHTF). Many of us have written down plans that tell us what things to grab before we leave (so we don’t forget something important), but how many of you have written down plans for what to do once you’re there, at your retreat? Why write them down? Well, because even though you may know everything you’re going to do once there, maybe the others don’t. For some unforeseen reason, you may not even make it there. Will your family know what to do with all the supplies you have stored? Will they know the best way to defend your particular location? For that matter, will you remember everything, given the fact that things will be stressful and maybe even chaotic once you get there? Hopefully this article will give you some idea of how to put a plan together. The plan should be printed out and stored at your retreat.

When I put my plan together, I made it like a short book, including using a title, preface, table of contents. This is to make it easier to find information on subjects, rather than reading a single long document.

The sections I chose were – Food and Water, Health & Hygiene, Security and Defense, Energy, Politics, Humanity, and Documentation. Obviously you can choose your own section titles. I try to visualize that my wife and I don’t make it to the retreat, and our teenage children do. Although I have tried to educate them on the preparedness mindset, they might have little clue of what to do in an extreme SHTF scenario. So I write to that level. As if they know very little and need a lot of guidance to survive at the retreat. I’ll now explain some of the information I try to include in those chapters.

Food and Water –

If you have stored water and access to fresh water, then describe what water to use first, and why. How to get and store more water (yes, preparedness must continue). Different ways to make water safe to drink. How to conserve water (especially if you have limited access to more).

Instructions for Food are similar. What stored foods to use first, and why. I recommend that if the scenario appears that it will be prolonged, then we should begin using the bulk storage foods (wheat, rice, beans, etc.) right away. This will save some of the more portable, easy to cook foods (like canned chili, stew, or freeze dried and MRE type meals) for times when there may not be an opportunity to cook (lack of fuel, long hours of work, bugging-out, etc.), or to take with you in the event you need to abandon your retreat. Yes, you may even have to bug out of your retreat at some point.

Describe how to get more food (hunting, trapping, gathering, gardening, etc.). If you are able to get fresh food right away, then definitely use that before any stored food. Talk about different ways to store new food for use later (by canning, drying, etc.). Discuss conserving the food and getting the most use out of what you get. Things like boiling heads and other parts of animals, even if just to get the fatty oil to surface so you can use it. How about, if you have lots of blackberries, but have no way to preserve them, then eat as many as you can without becoming ill. Like a bear, getting fattened up now for the lean months ahead might mean the difference between living and dying.

Talk about how to cook, to conserve energy and to minimize the signs of your presence. You may not want a smoke signal being sent up in the middle of a clear day. A better way might be to cook when it gets dark, and to use solar to cook on the clear days. At least be aware of your choices and potential consequences.

Heath and Hygiene –

In this section you will want to discuss nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, and mental well being. Talk about eating enough, eating for proper nutrition, and staying hydrated. Talk about proper sanitation (including proper food care, staying clean and dealing with garbage and human waste). Discuss using extra care to prevent work-related injuries. If an extra set of hands can prevent an injury (like cutting yourself or hurting your back), then ask for help. Use protective equipment such as gloves and goggles. Staying safe and healthy is easier than combating an illness or injury.

Talk about the proper ways to cook and handle foods to nobody gets food-born illnesses or diseases. This is no time to become careless about something so simple.

Describe the planned method of doing laundry at your retreat. Wearing clean underwear or pajamas to bed can help reduce the amount of time needed to wash bedding. Even if you normally take a morning shower, it may make more sense to take a shower in the evening, after your work day is done.

Discuss sexually active couples and the risks of getting pregnant during the stressful conditions you are in.

There may be some “down time”. Especially in the evening when there may not be television and movies for everyone to watch. This is a great time for everyone (and I mean everyone) to learn as much as they can, from your stash of medical books, about first aid and advanced medical care. You don’t know who will end up being the injured person and who will be the “doctor”.

Mental health is another consideration. Everyone should read books you have stored, including the Bible. Keep up on your prayers too. Listen to the radio to try to keep up on what’s going on in the world, and maybe listening to a little music (quietly) might help. If you have the ability to watch stored DVD movies, then that may help too.

Discuss keeping each other informed about any significant changes in any aspect of your group’s well-being. Being informed and avoiding surprises is important to everyone’s safety and mental stability. All of this can help keep your group from going crazy.

Of course you should talk about triage and what to do if dead bodies are encountered (either from your group, or from an enemy). Being prepared mentally for these potentially intense events can go a long way to help.

Security and Defense –

This section you should discuss your planned method of deterring and combating any enemies. How will you be alerted that potential enemies are near (people on watch, electronic alarms, dogs)? How will you determine who is an enemy? How will you determine which ones to confront and which ones to run from? Discuss the advantage of going un-noticed first and then [, failing that,] looking like an unattractive target. If you have look-out posts, who will man them? When will shifts be rotated? Where will the posts be located?

How do you secure your buildings? Talk about light and noise management. How do you communicate, and what signals or codes will you use? How will your group train for these events?

When a threat is encountered, what level of force will you use, and what tools do you have that can accomplish the task. Not every threat is a deadly force situation (either at the beginning, or even throughout the incident).

Who will carry firearms? Which firearms will they use? Do they understand when it’s appropriate to shoot?

Does everyone understand how to communicate that there is a threat? How do the lookouts communicate with others? What codes or signs will be given? If you have radio communications, do you have codes to use so someone monitoring it might not know who exactly is talking?

You should address what tactics to use during a battle. What protective gear to wear, how you would deal with a wounded companion, and areas of responsibility are important to address too.

Address fire danger and how to fight fires.

Talk about the importance of knowing your enemy. Can you can gather information about your enemies in advance? What are their numbers, their skills, and their weapons? Is an attack imminent? If so, can you plan a preemptive strike? When do you attack and when is it wise to retreat? (Have those Bug-Out-Bags ready, even once you’re at the retreat.)

Talk about the use of force multipliers. Things such as barriers, alarms, decoys, and improvised explosives. Developing good relationships with nearby neighbors can help too.

Energy –

Energy for heat and work. Mainly stored energy, like wood, gas, and batteries. Address how you will conserve the energy you have and make more (by cutting wood, solar charging batteries, etc.).

Heat will be used mainly for keeping you warm during cold weather, and also for cooking food. It may also be used to boil water to drink, heat water for showers, re-hydrating food, and drying clothes during cold weather.

Most work might be done by manual labor, but some things require electricity. Your individual situation will dictate the instructions you give for electrical use. Maybe you can have a television playing a DVD all day, or maybe all you can only allow electricity to be used for is the occasional radio communication or flashlight use.

Describe the importance of using solar energy, whenever possible, for cooking, heating water, drying clothes and food, etc.

Politics –

One of the important things to address is the political makeup of your group. Who is in charge? How will important decisions be decided? Who is allowed to be part of the group? (There will always be unexpected people who want to join.) Who will be assigned what chores [or duties]? What behavior can get someone banished from the retreat? Address the importance of “pulling your own weight” and getting along with each other. Not everyone has the same skills or strength, but almost everyone has something to contribute.

Explain how triage will be conducted in health care [and veterinary care]. How there is a limited amount of skill and supplies.

Even among these tough times and trying decisions, the importance of keeping and promoting a good attitude needs to be emphasized. Attitude is contagious, whether it is a good one or a bad one.

Humanity –

This section will address how you will want to continue to be law-abiding and civil. And by doing so, you will help maintain your sanity, dignity, and humanity. Continue to educate each other, learning new skills, and helping each other. If children are there, start home-schooling them. And pray, as a group and individually.

Arrange for some relaxation time for everyone. A time of rest and play will benefit everyone. Be charitable and social with your neighbors. (But, of course, don’t reveal your storage supplies or your tactics to them.) Charity might only be in the form of labor, if that’s all you’ve got to give, but at least it’s something.

Keep clean. Staying clean and healthy helps your attitude and makes you feel “human”.

Documentation –

Talk about keeping a journal or log of the events that occur. There should be daily entries describing what you did, what you were thinking, what the weather was doing, etc. Any conflicts or deaths must be documented.

The journal can be very important if it is needed in court several months or years from now. It will also be a valuable item to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

Another form of documentation is photographs. Especially if there is a death. Take lots of photos (if you can), as if it were a crime scene.

Try to keep track of the date (at minimum, it will be nice to celebrate birthdays). Try to keep up to date medical records on each person. And, try to keep an accurate inventory of all supplies. This will help predict your needs for the future.

I hope this information about creating a plan will help. This should be a living document. It will change as your supplies, equipment, and personnel change. I always put the edited date on the front. Just putting your retreat planning document together might make you think of things you need to do or acquire.