Prepping for Prepping: Initiating the Uninitiated, by R.S.

If you are like many in the prepping community (not of the lone wolf variety), then you have developed or are working to develop a network of people with similar ideology regarding SHTF or TEOTWAWKI. We’ve been taught to believe that there is strength in numbers, and OPSEC aside, I tend to agree that surviving together beats surviving alone.

In that case, you will inevitably need to reach out to people to build your network, and if you’ve had more than two if these conversations, I’m sure you’ve run into someone that either thinks you’re crazy or needs a great deal of convincing. So, I’ve put together this handy guide of “Do’s and Don’ts” (or Don’ts and Do’s, as it were) for wooing those you have targeted.


Step 1: Don’t be crazy.

You are already walking headlong into a topic that, while increasing in popularity, is still on the fringe of what most people are comfortable discussing. My 12-year-old son is still a bit uncomfortable talking about prepping. He is at that age where anything that makes him not “normal” is bad. Most unsuspecting people are much this way. They are walking around thinking about their weekend plans, or they’re thinking about how much they hate their job or driving to soccer practice. If you pop up and start talking about Armageddon, you will like get a less than warm reaction. As Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” However, a tempered enthusiasm at first will do you well. Beginning with an over the top approach could doom your little foray.

Step 2: Don’t “Chicken Little” them.

You’re preparing for a super volcano eruption or a massive financial collapse or a CME that will cause an EMP, all of which will make the SHTF and leave us in a WROL situation. See where I’m heading? You’ve just acronymed yourself right out of the conversation. Of course, you wouldn’t use those in conversation, but even using the words themselves could have forced your unwitting audience to consider the apocalypse. For most people, the sky isn’t falling, so starting with the assertion that it is falling could get you put in prepper purgatory by your unsuspecting acquaintance.

Step 3: Don’t discuss the zombies.

Stop. Just stop. I know you want to talk about them. It makes you feel like Rick Grimes or Milla Jovovich. Still, DO NOT DO IT. First, it violates rule one. Second, unless you’re recruiting 14-year-old boys, the person who reacts well to this approach is not your target market. My brother made this very mistake when first discussing prepping with his wife. He spent a good few weeks rebuilding any credibility with her, regarding any discussion about anything related to his desire to prep.

Step 4: Don’t eliminate hope.

There is a big difference between preparing for an inevitable collapse and preparing for a possible collapse. Helping people see the possibility of bad things happening is a primary element of this discussion. However, if you simply deliver it in the context of an inevitable collapse, you will likely be tuned out quickly. As a side note, if this is your view of things, I’d urge you to consider your perspective. Hope is a critical component of survival. While we see the continued decay of society in so many ways, don’t give up on it. Strive to be a positive instrument of change in your family and community. Like most of you, I hope I never have to use my preps for a true unintended survival situation.

So let’s recap; don’t be a creepy, crazy, “the world is ending”, zombie apocalypse, fear mongerer. That seems simple enough, right?

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some positive ways to network our way into building the greatest prepper group known to man.


Step 1: Do know what you’re looking for.

You will need to consider whether you are looking for like-minded people or whether you are trying to recruit someone who has never considered prepping (at least in the way we think of it). For the purposes of this article, we will focus on recruiting a newbie. While you may not want an entire group of people that you have to convince, you will almost surely have someone important to you that needs convincing. Since that is often family who you don’t want to leave behind, I’ll focus on that.

Step 2: Do observe your fellow fellows.

Much scouting can and should be done before ever having a conversation about your secret past-time. Does this person have any habits or hobbies that indicate they’d been interested in prepping? My wife, for example, never considered the idea of prepping. However, she loves gardening and the idea of homesteading. She has long warned me of the dangers of our modern farming methods– using pesticides, GMO foods, and such. Armed with that information, it was a relatively easy conversation as we discussed the need to simply begin planning for a longer-term situation.

The friend, who lives off fast food and depends on mass transit every day, is going to be in for more of a shock. Still, that doesn’t mean they are a lost cause.

Step 3: Do start small.

I’ve been a prepper for a long time, but I’ve only been prepping for a few months. Stay with me; it makes sense, I promise.

First, I was a Boy Scout as a kid. On some level, I was taught to “Be Prepared” from the time I was young. When I went on camp outs, I was prepared. Unfortunately, I can’t say that it transitioned to my everyday life. It wasn’t until I became acutely aware of the possibilities for disaster that I used what I had learned years ago to start preparing my entire family.

Second, nearly every adult is already preparing, even if they don’t know it. I would suggest that this is maybe your most compelling argument to make. A case in point, do you pay for car insurance? Do you pay for renter’s or home owner’s insurance? Do you have life insurance or disability insurance? Are you saving money for retirement? If you have an Internet connection and are reading this article, I feel safe saying that 99% of you would answer at least one of those questions in the affirmative. If so, you’re already prepping. You may not call it that, but you are.

Insurance is simply protection against a future disaster of some kind. While insurance is important and in some cases legally required, it will only get you so far. Worse yet, you are still vulnerable to a great deal of possible disasters. What happens if you lose your job? Insurance isn’t going to pay for that. What happens if your furnace goes out in the middle of a storm? Even if you have a home warranty that would happen to cover the cost of fixing it, that won’t keep you warm until the repairs can be made.

You’re putting money away for retirement, which is simply a down payment on a future lifestyle. That’s great! Have you considered a future where the status quo is no longer, and if there is a disaster of some kind. Again, a little insurance will only get you so far. When people realize that they are already investing in protection against disasters, it’s much easier to then help them consider what other potential disasters are out there that they are not protected against.

Step 4: Do use the news.

Get people’s reaction to the Ebola outbreak. See what their opinion of the Sony hack is. What about the Ferguson riots, anyone? Did you hear that Russia has seen 50% devaluation of the Ruble this year alone? What if that was us?

It’s all around us, every day. Gauging people’s reaction to the things that are happening right now moves you from the hypothetical disaster to something much closer to home. Giving someone a delicious food to eat is much more compelling than trying to describe the taste to them. I’m not suggesting that you use fear mongering, but people should understand the problem before the solution truly has value.

Step 5: Do practice what you preach.

People see what you do long before they hear what you say. One of the most persuasive cases you can make is an everyday approach to being prepared. If you’re the guy who has a generator running when the rest of the block is down during the storm, you’ll gain credibility…and probably visitors.

If you’re the one with water when a water main breaks, you have credibility. If you’re the one with jumper cables when a neighbor’s car dies, you gain more credibility.

Recently, some friends and I went to a help a lady from our church. The day we showed up at her house, an ice storm hit, making her steep driveway extremely slippery. She is a shut-in and didn’t have anything in her garage to deal with the ice, so we couldn’t get the trucks and tools closer than the street. Fortunately, I carry salt in my car for just such an occasion. I salted the drive, and the problem was solved. Upon seeing this, my friend commented, “Now there’s a man who’s prepared.”

While not a major disaster, it was an opportunity to solve a problem that stood before us– a problem that no one else was ready for. That laid the groundwork for a future conversation with my friend about being prepared for whatever comes.

For those people in your life that you’re looking to sway, just remember, prepping is pragmatic and practical. We’re not doomsday militant (though I do love me some guns) whackos. I just want to be able to provide for and protect my family in whatever situation comes our way. Don’t you?