An Old Boy Scout’s Journey – Part 1, by Rocket J. Squirrel

What prompted me to begin preparing? I am not certain if there was one specific trigger. I’d like to share my journey to becoming “more” prepared? If you have recently realized that you need to be prepared to take care of your family, your community and your country in the event that really bad things happen, then hopefully my journey will encourage you. Maybe not, since it has taken me so long. I am still on the journey, still learning, still implementing new things about which I learn. My perspective continues to change.

My beautiful bride and I are not retreat owners, we live in the suburbs. I have accepted that I need to be ready where I am, as we presently have no place to which we can bug out. As Mr. Rawles points out, bugging out is far from the ideal scenario as it will be filled with potential dangers. I look forward to the day when we can move away from the crowds to the mountains that we love so much; maybe the Sierra Nevada Mountains, maybe the Rocky Mountains, or maybe a property will become available on The Unnamed River. Until that day, I will do my best, here in this part of God’s Country.

One purpose in my writing is to share the choices that I have made with those who may be just starting on your preparedness journey. This is a summary of many complex subjects. There are so many choices to make when you start preparing, and so many conflicting opinions about which is the best option. Some think they have to get everything done now, once the preparedness floodgates have been opened. This can be overwhelming.

What should be the first priority – other than everything? What is the best solution for water storage, ammunition caliber, etc.? Implementing only the “best” solution can be a roadblock to action. Know that making a reasonable choice and implementing that choice is better than endless research and a lack of action. Accept the fact that as you learn more, your opinion on what you have implemented may change. It is okay to change your mind. If you change your mind then adjust your plans, your equipment and your training as you see fit.

Focus on Knowledge, Skills, and Training

Avoid just collecting the latest gadgets and doodads. Instead, focus on knowledge, skills and training. Gear and equipment are required, but a well-trained person who has the correct mindset and is stranded somewhere without their equipment will likely fare much better than someone who has only collected gear without the knowledge and training to use it.

Another purpose in writing this article is to show that, at least in my case, getting prepared takes a while and it really never ends. Being prepared truly is a journey. We each come from different backgrounds and come to the realization at different times in our lives that bad things can happen. I wish that I would have accomplished more preparations sooner. I encourage you to make time in your schedule to do what you can afford to do now, and make a plan for future actions.

I was a Boy Scout, although it was for only a short time. Maybe that is where I picked up my inclination to always “Be Prepared.” While in high school I joined the Explorer Scouts, a Post that focused on backpacking. We learned that we should always take the “Ten Essentials” with us when backpacking or even when just out hiking for the day. Here are lists of the Ten Essential from The Mountaineers and REI.

Christian Faith

In 1992 my beautiful bride and I both became Christians. I grew up attending Church, but at that point I “knew that I knew” that I was saved from sin and hell by the Creator of the heavens and the earth having sacrificed the life of His Son (Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah) to pay for my sins and redeem me. I started listening regularly to local KWVE Christian radio. I was drawn to the teaching of Chuck Missler. His program, 66/40, is still available on some radio stations and as a podcast on their web site. Chuck started doing a Strategic Perspectives program every year or two. He talked about current world events from a Biblical perspective and how we should respond. Being prepared was one response often mentioned. Chuck made an observation about the Jews in Germany before World War II. Some Jews were given wisdom, saw bad things on the horizon and chose to leave Germany in advance of the Holocaust. They escaped to their Redoubts. A few were preserved by God through the Holocaust. But millions were not so fortunate and were murdered by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.

One reference in the Strategic Perspectives cassette tape package was to a book Preparing for Emergencies by James McKeever. I bought the book. This was long before SurvivalBlog started. The following are the basic categories for preparedness from the book, and how I have addressed each. (An even better starting point is Mr. Rawles’ List-of-Lists or his book, How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It.)

  • Water
  • Light and Heat
  • First Aid
  • Fire Fighting
  • Self Defense
  • Food

The following is a description of supplies and training I have implemented. Also described are things that are on my list to be done. All of the specific brands/models of equipment and the stores or web sites mentioned are the equipment I own and the supply sources which I used. You are encouraged to investigate what is best for your situation and shop around for high quality gear at low prices. The internet is an amazing tool; make good use of it. Make certain to remain anonymous and use a VPN as Mr. Rawles recommends.


When the power for the water distribution system fails, we will have no water from the municipal water supply system. (For those of you who have a private well with an electric pump, you will need a back-up power source for your pump, or a manual pump.) Since I was living in prime earthquake country (the “big one” could happen at any time) I started preparing by purchasing four 55-gallon food-grade water barrels and filling them with water. The barrels were placed in the garage on pieces of plywood to keep the water from absorbing the concrete “flavor.” Sanitize the inside of the barrels with chlorine bleach before filling then add some residual bleach after filling with water and before sealing the drums.

I considered larger and smaller containers but this size seemed the best for me. They fit nicely in the garage along the side wall (they are 24” diameter) and you can store stuff on top of them (protect the tops) and place shelf units straddling/over them. (I got a barrel a few years ago for my daughter at her local Wal-Mart using the ship-to-store option for about $80.) I purchased a bung wrench, drum pump and siphon hoses for dispensing water from the barrels. Seven-gallon cube shaped Reliance Aqua-Tainer water containers are stored in my garage and will enable collection and transportation of water if needed.

I got some Polar Pure iodine for water purification and gravity filters with ceramic elements from Katadyn and Berkey. We use the Berkey daily for our drinking water. An Underhill Gulp hand pump, the kind landscapers use to remove water from valve boxes, will be handy for collecting water if it ever comes to that. If you live in an apartment, maybe a WaterBOB will be a good option; but that is only useful if you have warning in advance of the need so you can fill the container, such as with hurricanes. A WaterBOB provides no preparation against a surprise outage. I kept some filled 7-gallon containers in a closet when we lived in an apartment.

Light and Heat

At our current home the climate is such that we did not/do not have to worry about winter heating for survival, as do those who live in the Great White North. We could just put on extra clothes and still be comfortable; nothing life threatening. So, no back-up heat is required for us. For light we have flashlights, headlamps, lots of batteries (alkaline, lithium, rechargeable), battery chargers, various big candles collected over the years, a case of tea lights from the local Big Lots store, and a trusty hand-me-down Coleman lantern with extra mantles. The to-do list includes getting some solar panels for recharging batteries.

(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 2.)


  1. Thank you, J. Squirrel, for sharing the story of your preparedness journey. We are looking forward to Part 2 of your article!

    From your article: “Another purpose in writing this article is to show that, at least in my case, getting prepared takes a while and it really never ends. Being prepared truly is a journey.”

    We have, over many years, found this to be especially true! As knowledge levels and skills advance, our understanding about what is needed (skills, tools and equipment, other supplies) are needed. Some supplies are consumed or wear out and must be replaced or refreshed. Needs also change with time and circumstances as well. Although there have been resting points (or moments of pause), our preparedness journey is ongoing — and will be for a lifetime.

  2. Been trying to get my children ready for when the SHTF for a while, mostly with talks about preparedness and by going camping. One shies away from it — “eww there was a tick on you”. Well, we walked 100 feet away, and brushed it off. “It will come back.” My response was “no, that is 5 tick miles it would have to walk.”

  3. Hey Rocket, lots of good points so far. Looking forward to Part II.

    “Avoid just collecting the latest gadgets and doodads. Instead, focus on knowledge, skills and training. Gear and equipment are required, but a well-trained person who has the correct mindset and is stranded somewhere without their equipment will likely fare much better than someone who has only collected gear without the knowledge and training to use it.”

    A big Amen to this paragraph. We all have different definitions of what “prepping” is all about. Since I live a minimalistic self-reliant lifestyle anyway, prepping for small disasters isn’t something I concern myself with. For me it’s about TEOTWAWKI. I define “gadgets” as those things which won’t work for long once the grid goes down permanently because they require batteries, are cheaply made, or are just unnecessary clutter that don’t serve a good enough purpose for me to own it. So I wholeheartedly agree with your advice on not collecting gadgets. Skills and training are going to be SO much more important as you point out. Yesterday’s article on Synthetic and Natural Fibers reminds me that I should be stocking up on more than jeans and socks. I can’t weave or spin and I don’t think my fig tree produces big enough leaves to cover more than my, well you know. So I should learn more about spinning and weaving, right now I just understand the basics of it. But I do have the skills to produce any equipment I may need.

    One other point, more than one person has posted here that they don’t have enough room to store much in their home. I’ve mentioned I did a Swedish Death Cleaning last year and it’s a great idea for anyone, not just those low on space. Anything you are going to give to your kids someday, give it to them now if they have their own homes. We have so much clutter in our homes that is so unnecessary. I got a kick out of the two different “10 Essentials” lists. I lived for backpacking and hiking in my younger days. I never took more than three of the items on those lists, deeming them unessential unlikely to ever be used. They used to call me The Billygoat because I could really burn up the trails and nobody could keep up. One day a buddy and I traded backpacks because I wanted to see how his $300 pack felt compared to mine. Holy cow, I just about got a hernia trying to pick the thing up. No wonder I was the Billygoat, my pack weighed only half of what his weighed. My backpacking buddies had so many non-essentials with them it took half the joy out of backpacking. Life is the same way, we don’t own stuff, it owns us and it can bog us down, clutter our homes, create mental stress, and take some of the joy out of our lives.

    “You are encouraged to investigate what is best for your situation and shop around for high quality gear at low prices.”

    Last Saturday 3AD Scout mentioned all the great buys he got at an auction for giveaway prices. Many of the older tools and household items were built so much better in the olden days before the concept of “planned obsolescence” was discovered by manufacturers. If they build stuff cheaply, we’ll have to buy it more frequently so they make more money. Not only do auctions, flea markets, and thrift stores offer these older items, the prices are amazingly cheap sometimes. High quality is going to last through TEOTWAWKI, cheap stuff won’t. I have a vegetable grater made in Sweden that I got at a thrift store for 50¢ that is infinitely better than anything I could find on the market today. I sleep better knowing that if the SHTF, I can still enjoy crispy hash browns with my eggs. 🙂

  4. If worse comes to worse ticks will be the least of our problems.
    My kids were the same until the pLandemic, my granddaughter told my daughter, “grandma was right.”

  5. Thank you for sharing your journey, Mister Squirrel. It is comforting to hear from another warm-climate suburbanite, and the reminder to take things a little at a time is a good one. We can so easily get overwhelmed if we allow ourselves. I too dream of a retreat someday, but I haven’t solved the logistical challenge of my son with special needs, and his continual need for access to therapies and medical care. An off-grid ranch in the hinterboonies sounds delightful to me, but I alone do not physically have enough hours in the day to do all of the food production/animal care/property upkeep/etc etc, whilst ALSO taking care of things inside the house like feeding this crew, and being hands-on therapist to an 11yo toddler for 8 structured hours a week plus constantly assisting him with toileting/feeding/washing/EVERYTHING…and oh yeah, little things like homeschooling the others, nursing the baby, etc. etc. I know all moms complain about not enough hours in the day, but I have seen how badly he has regressed since the lockdowns started (even though we’ve tried to do teletherapy), and I don’t know how to meet his needs without outside help. I know God has a plan for our family, and I just need to keep praying and seeking it.

    Looking forward to part 2 tomorrow!

    1. Coeur d’Alene has top notch medical facilities if you’d like to consider it as an option, and you don’t need to be a homesteader to be living in a safer area. I live in a small town in the redoubt, right in town with neighbors on both sides, due to my situational requirements. My earlier attempt at acreage and homesteading was too much for me. But I’m SO glad to be up here. Wishing you all the best with your busy life!

      1. Thank you Didi! Blessings to you too. That’s very true–there are safer locations without the acreage. We’re a little more than an hour outside the closest Really Big City, but there are still too many people around for my liking even if it is somewhat of a “red” area. My husband says he thinks we’re safe here. I wonder how long he’ll feel that way. In the meantime, I’ll continue stocking up where I’m at, and decluttering the house so it will be much easier to move if we ever can.

  6. concerning 55gal water barrels. I bought two during the Y2K scare, filled them, sealed them, and put them in an outbuilding, and stacked stuff on top of them. Imagine my surprise recently when refreshing water in various barrels: those two were empty! The problem was both plastic barrels{walmart} had a small split in the bottom weld seam, very small but enough over time, especially in an out of the way location. Since the water tap still works all is not lost. I cut them in half to put plants in.

  7. Hi Squirrel,

    Good choice of an alias! We critters have got to stick together.

    I also echo the need for knowledge and skills over things. Expedient and hasty are my middle name, but shoddy is not. I now live somewhat like one half of the family did scraping out a living on a farm during the Great Depression. Through my mother, I picked up many of the ways of doing things, and the necessary attitude without realizing it. If we have the basics, we can do without much of the modern stuff if we have the ability to repair and invent. Concentrate on acquiring the basics, and learn how to use it. The basics require less room to store, and in the end, that is what will become most important over time.

    Where ever there are people there are problems. Even this part of the Redoudt, NW Montana, the libtards in the smaller towns and cities are everywhere, and have ruined most of the younger generation. We will have to contend with them someday, but at least the numbers are low compared to the masses found around population centers. Land and taxes are much higher here than in the Ozarks. There are lots of God fearing people there, and inexpensive land and taxes. The Ozarks have mild winters, and longer growing seasons. I suspect the culture is in general more traditional America than in some parts of the Redoubt. I would check out Joel Skousen’s analysis of that and other regions in his soon to be, or already updated book, Strategic Relocation. If you are set on the Redoubt, occasionally places like this pop up. This one is only 97K:

Comments are closed.