Let us review the basics of child rearing. Children are a gift from God and we are to bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. All preparedness means nothing if we have prepared our children for the eternal fires of hell. God, in His eternal wisdom and grace, providentially provided His son Jesus to restore us to a loving relationship with the Almighty. God provides covenantal blessings for those who obey Him and curses for those who don’t. With that being said it is imperative that all our worldly preparation be first and foremost spiritual because we are to store up that which is eternal and lasts forever rather than the temporary. Furthermore, the Bible is very clear as to our responsibility to provide for our own family which thus leads us into this discussion. I have thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Rawles’s book Patriots and find it to be the most comprehensive book of its kind. I was blind to the fact I was not prepared for any small emergency that may occur. It shocked me into action. Whether it is an evening storm outage or the full blown worse case scenario I wasn’t ready. The following article is an attempt at providing an addendum to Patriots for those families with small children. We home school our five children ages 3 to 11 and found preparing for emergencies take on a whole new meaning when plans must take into account those who can’t account for themselves. The Patriots story fits a certain demographic and my family doesn’t fit that profile. So here are my thoughts and ideas on preparing a family with primary age children.
I truly believe that having the right mindset or belief system about preparedness is essential. We are not hoarding out of panic or fear but making a concerted effort to provide the necessities of daily living for an extended period of time. Discretion is necessary because two things occur during preparation. The first is possibly being socially ostracized by being labeled a survival whacko by neighbors. These people are harmless until a survival situation occurs and then they become problem number two-potential security risks. I believe all preparedness should be disguised in some way. For instance, all guns and equipment can be acquired for our camping and shooting hobbies or purchasing food in bulk can be “taking advantage of a good sale.” Whatever you do just be creative in disguising all your actions especially with family or friends. Likewise, our mindset should be long-term focused because being prepared is a process, not an event. Preparedness begins with education of the entire family and not just the spouse who is driving the agenda. A family should cultivate an environment of learning that permeates the entire daily lives of its members. The more you educate yourself prior to purchases the farther your dollar will go with wise decisions and quality buying habits.
My education started with reading Patriots for the first time. I would recommend everyone do the same because it gives you a realistic idea of the effort required to get prepared. Once you make the decision to start you should take a realistic inventory of your skill set and knowledge. Be honest about how well you would do in a mild disruption, large-scale emergency and full-tilt TEOTWAWKI. Start your reading list with the idea that you will prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Start first with Beans, Bullets and Band-aids and in that order.
Beans refer to getting educated on how to grow, store and prepare food in a survival situation. This may at first seem a large burden on the parents but children of all ages can have a keen role in this area. Children love gardening and are good at planting and weeding. In fact, by the time I was 12 years old I was responsible for half of our garden which included beans, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, onions, carrots and potatoes. Children are especially adept at picking crops without ruining their backs or getting stuck by thorns in the blackberry bush. Beware of “2 in the mouth and 1 in the bucket” blight of these two-legged creatures. It can be as costly as infiltration of a four-legged pest into your garden.
Turn off the TV! Or better yet, get rid of it altogether. The outdoors should be a constant classroom as you walk, talk, weed, plow and play. By being outside you have ample opportunity to teach across a broad spectrum of topics and curriculum. For example I have attempted to link activities with teachable topics for preparedness.
- Gardening & Preserving = Planning/Agri-management, Geology, Hydrology, Botany, Construction, Irrigation, Anatomy (when muscles ache), Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Culinary Science, History and Horticulture, Oceanography/Atmospheric Science
- Hunting & Hiking = Geography, Topography, Geophysics (magnetic fields), Zoology, Botany, Anatomy, Ballistics, Military Science, Culinary Science, Physical Education,
Oceanography/Atmospheric Science, Geology, and Astronomy
- Touch Football Game = Military Science, Physical Education, Anatomy, History
I think you get the idea. Even something as simple and mundane as football has value to prepare for a survival situation. The key is to be creative and make it fun for the kids. I play a game with my kids as we hike. We haven’t made the move to the country so we drive over to a natural area on the edge of suburban Spokane. Our game is called “Patrol” We hike in silence and in 5 yard intervals. Each kid takes a turn at Point leading the way up to a pre-determined destination and the others rotate bringing up the rear.
The really fun part is when I whisper “Danger Close!” or “Tango” we race to find concealment and the last one to get concealed well is tagged. When its time for a break we look for a rest spot that is concealed and yet provides good line of sight for security. I don’t want to traumatize them so the “bad guys” are the looters they saw on TV during Hurricane Katrina coverage. Even kids know a bad guy when they see one. Children love to learn and play games and if you can do both at once, Amen! Each teachable moment is a short lecture about life and the world we live in. You will train your children to improvise, adapt, and overcome life’s challenges. Educate yourself in all aspects of the preparedness mindset but don’t exclude the little ones. They are just as eager to learn as you and may actually retain more factoids than our aged brains.
Getting Out of Dodge
G.O.O.D. provides several unique hurdles when preparing for children. Instead of breaking up the topic into Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids I will discuss as an all encompassing endeavor. Depending on the age of your children preparedness has to take into account the child’s physiology from the start. Teenagers don’t have inherent problems as do tending to small pre-adolescent age groups. A teenager, for the most part, has stopped growing or is growing into adult sizes that make acquiring survival gear a bit easier.
Primary age children grow out of their clothes extremely fast and if a TEOTWAWKI scenario occurs you must store sizes to grow into. I guarantee during TEOTWAWKI Wal-Mart won’t be holding a clearance sale or Schumer Day sale on gear (Actually if anyone would be open for business it probably would be Wally World). I believe one can prepare in several ways for growing children and seasonal changes in weather. Once again a little education can go a long way.
Preparation should encompass a layered approach starting with a 1) G.O.O.D. Bag, 2) Rapid Deployment Bin and 3) Long-term Inventory. G.O.O.D. bag is a backpack loaded with all essentials that are pre-packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Mr. Rawles description in Patriot’s is a great place to start. The idea with children is to size down the weight since kids can’t carry at par and most likely won’t be carrying ammo and other weighty items. Also make sure the clothing is sized up one size. Kids can fit into something a bit larger but squeezing into something a size too small is misery. Once you bring the weight down look to exchange adult items for kid friendly items for comfort and entertainment. Add a couple of books and a deck of cards or a travel size game instead of ammo or firearms. Also have a spare set of clothing one size bigger to grow into.
Rapid Deployment Bins
The Rapid Deployment Bin is a supply prepared for rapid deployment where you will travel by vehicle and not on foot. For instance, if you had ample warning and were leaving home for a retreat location this would easily be picked up and hauled with other necessary items. We use square plastic bins with locking lids that conveniently stack and are transportable. One bin per kid and you can easily prepare several years of clothing for all weather extremes. Add two pairs of boots and two pair of snow boots and one child can be squared away for at least two years. Coveralls are a great way to fit one child for several growth spurts. Coveralls can fit even when their too big and can be grown into over time. One pair of light[weight] and one insulated can be stored easily to provide year-round protection. You may have realized the problem of keeping all eggs in one basket. If I were to loose one bin that child would be in a world of hurt. I am currently looking for some plastic half-barrels to store two clothing units per kid and hold two for each member of our household.
Long-term inventory at a retreat location would be similar to Rapid Inventory arrayed in comparison to the Patriots example of lockers. The supply of clothing and other necessities would be more in depth and take into consideration long-term growth in height and weight of children. It would also be wise to add some patches and Shoo-Goo into your sewing kit to add calendar life to BDUs and boots. Knees on pants and soles on boots can wear out faster than other articles. Repairing means some items can be handed down to smaller kids when outgrown by its owner. Once kids grow out of a size and you run out of kids to hand them down they will make great charity or barter items.
Purchasing and Storage
We have two methods for obtaining and storing clothing that saves time, money and storage space. My wife is warrior shopper which means she finds all the deals and never pays full price. We found a new pair of Sorrel winter boots in a youth size for only $3.00 at a local thrift store. The most intriguing part is that it was August when she bought them. Remember: Preparing is a process not an event. Start with a list of sizes and actual gear you need to outfit the family. Camo gear can be hard to come by but light brown and earth tones aren’t. Buy the earth tones and browns which can easily be dyed to some level of camouflage during bad times.
Thrift stores and garage sales are the only way to go. We also plan to buy a sewing machine and learn a few basics on manufacturing our own clothing. You can now buy polar fleece camouflage material in several patterns which can save a bundle compared to store bought outer gear. Be diligent with the yard sales because in our area the local Russian immigrant population hits the sales right as they open between 7 and 9 AM. We have found that they can take all the good stuff before you even get a chance.
A big recommendation for G.O.O.D. bag, Rapid Deployment Bins and Long-term retreat storage is the use of a vacuum sealer. You can seal a whole set of clothing in one pouch. It saves on G.O.O.D. bag space and bin space also. For an example, in a large bag I can fit 1 pair of BDUs, 3 t-shirts, 3 underwear, 5 socks and one set polypropylene and that is vacuum sealed into a space the size of a laptop computer. Planning ahead and have several sets all prepared and sealed allows for additional storage space. Label each bag with a marker for age and size information to make inventory easy and you are set to store for use, charity or barter. The sealer works great for dried food items also so this is a great purchase for beginning to get squared away. Shop online for the best deals or even check local “nickel” want ads.
I have a few quick thoughts on a cache that may be easier on the pocket book. If you are looking to cache some items you don’t have to wait until you have a big pile but you can cache in increments. Five gallon food grade buckets can be used as personal or individual caches. Restaurants throw these “buckets” away on a regular basis. Contact a local burger joint and ask them if you can have their pickle buckets when finished. Soak overnight in a little bleach water to remove the vinegar smell. Use a small plastic garbage bag to line the interior before placing items inside. If the restaurant destroys or cuts the lid you can purchase replacements at paint stores or nearest warehouse lumber store.
Placement of the buckets in the ground can be done individually as you prepare them. I recommend sealing the lid with duct tape and placing the bucket into black garbage bags before putting into the ground. Use the heavy duty contractor’s grade garbage bags; they cost a little more but are super heavy duty and will take 30+ years to decompose in the soil. Place your bucket into one bag and then inside a second bag for double layer protection. I prefer a long trench for my cache to make recovery as simple as possible. Once I find the first bucket I know where exactly the others are in a linear formation. You can save time and energy later by lining the trench and back-filling around the buckets with pea gravel up to 3 inches over the top. The last 12 inches should be normal top-soil or fill. There are several reasons to use pea gravel. First, it allows better water drainage over time so there is little chance of moisture compromising your cache. Second, rocks can be pushed into and break open the plastic containers that’s why irrigation, telecom and other utility pipe is installed with sand first and then backfilled with dirt. Third, pea gravel helps recovery of cache if done when conditions aren’t ideal. If you have to recover in the dark the pea gravel will contrast to top soil by sight and sound when digging. It also makes removal of buckets easier since they will just slide out and won’t have to be dug from compacted soil. It can also help if you have to dig with primitive tools or your hands.
I am a graduate of Front Sight Firearms Training School. I cannot stress enough the overall value of spending time at that facility. They took me from dangerous novice to Distinguished Graduate status in four days. I was ignorant of just how dangerous I was to myself and others. I had gone through a basic hunter’s Ed class at age 12. I have hunted many years in the woods of northeastern Washington chasing deer and in the blinds of the Pend Oreille River freezing my tail off for the occasional duck and goose. Being around guns all your life actually makes you complacent and more dangerous than a novice. Just because you’ve been around guns your whole life doesn’t mean you are safe. Once you have professional grade training you will be astonished at just how much you didn’t know. So before you go off and try to teach combat skills make sure you have time-tested education in this area. Even with my level of skill I am slowly introducing responsible gun handling to my kids. When we are out in the woods they can take toy guns or BB guns and they are to practice muzzle control. At home during dry practice we practice snapping in and breathing for sight/target control and trigger control. These elements come together when we take the Chipmunk .22 out to the range. The kids are already proficient with open sights at 25 yards.
Bottom line is you will always fall back to your highest level of training during a combat/life saving situation. If you can’t do the right thing without thinking about it you are likely a danger to yourself and others if the threat level goes black. Don’t wait to find out the hard way by causing injury or death negligently. Get the training-it’s worth it!
I hope I have provided some helpful hints and ideas. If you have a better thought or suggested improvement please share them in a follow up letter. I know I have come a long way but I am just getting started in this process of becoming prepared. It is comforting to know that God’s providence rules over all things. Preparedness must be in submission to His law or it is hoarding, which is sin. If you don’t know the difference go seek guidance from your pastor or church elder. There are blessings for those who keep His commandments and curses for those who don’t. We are not guaranteed an easy life or a life free from persecution or strife but His path will not lead you astray. God Bless and get started. – B.H. in Spokane