Prepping and Survival as a Mindset, by F.B.

People — being people — have all kinds of reactions to “prepping.” Some get it. Some think they get it. And some consider themselves too sophisticated to “prep” because that implies the system will fracture; so to them preppers are “extremists of doom.”

I’m not a prepper; I’m just a Dad responsible for a family. And once you wrap your mind around that, you’re already down that slippery slope of being a “prepper.”

Prepping Begins in the Brain

I have life insurance, like any middle class salary man. I pay for it every month. I don’t think I’ll die in any one of the months I pay for it. But I’m a financial prepper because I’ve prepared for the very low likely hood of my own untimely death. Does that make me paranoid, or responsible?

Your number one Prep is your brain. If all you have to “prep” is a brain, that’s 90% of what you need. Prepping is about foreseeing challenges, however unlikely, and making preparations for them. Foreseeing possible challenges will not drive your life any more than buying life insurance does and buying Life insurance doesn’t mean you have a death wish.

But you’ve got to use that gray matter and do some war gaming.

You Can Practice Prepping Before You Are Prepared

You want to know how to practice prepping? Go Camping. Camping is not an “extremist” activity.

Camping, not glamping. No running water. No sewer. No hot and cold tap water. No central HVAC. Can’t shower every morning and no TV or internet. You cook your own food, make your own heat, set up your own shelter and learn to carry the basics of life with you.

Being a good camper begins with using your brain. What will you need? Think about prepping as preparing for a camping trip. It’s nice to be dry and warm. It’s nice to have a heat source. Eating is wonderful. Sanitation is imperative. Where will you go to the bathroom? Can you tie knots? Can you cook on a Coleman stove or over a fire? (Can you cook at all?) If you camp in bear country, what kind of camp security do you have? A hard sided camper? Bear spray? A dog? Or just good luck? Prepping assumes your luck could run out and asks you to think about “what then?”

Prepping Your Brain

No camping list or prepping web site can prepare your brain. Your brain has to do all this work all by itself. Once you start working that gray matter between the ears, “prepping” web sites may spur your imagination, but it is no substitute for you actually doing that thinking.

Not Prepared to Go Camping? That’s Okay

Camp in your back yard. Don’t have a back yard? Camp in your living room. Use a propane stove on your porch to boil some potatoes. Use some food that does not need refrigeration. Don’t use tap water — use whatever bottled water you have. Make a fire in the fireplace. No fireplace? Cook over a Hibachi at the Park, then go home and roll out some blankets with your kids on the floor. Where are you going to the bathroom? (Five gallon bucket with kitty litter could work). Got any neighbors who are going to freak out under these conditions? What are they going to do on day three of no food? (They would be the bears mentioned above — they get hungry and grow a gnarly temperament to match). Got any friends who like to camp? Maybe you should develop that side of your social life.

Even thinking abut camping forces the mind to address all the issues that may come up when you can’t just press a button and have all the conveniences of modern life. (No toilet? What’s the backup plan? )

I’ve been talking to my family for years about things I see coming down the historical pike. And what I see coming makes the corona virus look easy. But even if the future is rosy, learning how to camp is a pleasurable way of preparing, and a healthy activity for your family. It all begins in the brain.

Next Steps

Okay you’ve managed to camp in your living room with your kids and your dog. I’ll bet money your children had a blast. The dog, too.

Take it up a notch. Camp in your back yard. Don’t have one? Think about where you could camp outside for the night. Safely. A friends house? Might as well make it a social event. We all need reliable friends in bad times.

Then, go to a state park and set up a tent for two nights. Cook on the camp stove or over the fire. Set up your bedroll (you don’t need a sleeping bag — blankets or a quilt work just as well). You’ll find that having a mattress makes life easier. Make your own coffee in the morning. Teach the kids knots and how to make a fire. Go on a day hike. Pack and carry your own water and sandwich. Bring a pocket knife because . . . well you just never know what you might want to use it for. That’s the point of “Prepping.”

Ready for the next step? Spend four nights in a tent. You’ll come back changed. Usually about four nights is the point it which you think “hmm, I think four days is plenty for me.” But it will force you to think through the “what ifs” of a longer stay.

Now You Are Prepared for a Bigger Challenge

Go camping in the fall or spring. Maybe there is frost on the ground. Maybe some cold rain. It complicates things.

Next, go backpacking. Just for a night. Walk a couple of miles with a bag on your back and enough to get you through a couple of days. You will either have to get in shape, or the hiking will push you into getting in shape. You may be forced to practice first aid. Ranger Rick won’t be down at the end of your campground. Cuts, scrapes, blisters and bug bites. You’ve got some basic medicines, right? Aspirin? Band-Aids. Disinfectant. Again, this forces physical health and it forces you to think through the “what-ifs.” Because no one is there to pick up the slack for you yet you aren’t really that far out in the woods.

Hungry for More?

Now it’s time to add another factor to your camping. Go camping with a firearm. (It’s called hunting, but don’t let that scare you). Spend a week in the woods in the autumn and walk around — safely — with a firearm. Not bear hunting — just searching for birds with a shotgun or rabbits with a .22 rimfire rifle. By now your camping skills should be pretty well honed — this layers an additional safety skill.

Before this trip, you need to be safe around firearms. There are two easy ways to get it. First, take a hunter’s safety course. Most likely your state will require it before you can buy a hunting license. The knowledge you will gain is incredible even to those who never want to hunt. Send your older children, too. It is that important and educational.

Second, take professional firearms training. Don’t skimp and don’t work with the first guy you find. Female? They have classes taught by women, for women. If you can’t find anyone, then check out NRA.org. Even if you never ever want to carry a firearm, consider a“concealed carry” course. It will allow you to work through the issues surrounding firearms and teach you how to be safe without committing you to ever carrying a firearm. The goal is not that you become a shooter — the goal is that you and your family are safe around this all too common item.

You can’t keep your kids away from water — so you teach them to swim. And it is very likely you and your family will encounter firearms — it is wise to know how to properly handle them and to know when others are mis-handling them. Wishing the problem away is not a good approach.

Firearms a No Go for You? That’s Okay

Even if you do not get any kind of training, memorize the rules below and teach them to your children. Telling them to “never touch a gun” may not be any more effective than telling them to never go near a pool, or never drive in a car.

Basic Rules of Gun Safety:

  • Finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  • Always treat every weapon as if it were loaded, including the toy gun you are practicing with.
  • Never aim a weapon at anything you do not want destroy — even a toy weapon.
  • And know what is in front of and behind your target.

Want to take it up a notch? Here’s a free tip: You don’t even need to own a gun to begin. Carry a toy pistol or rifle with you at home (when the neighbors aren’t watching) and practice the above until it is ingrained and automatic.

And then think again about professional training. You send your kids to driving school, right? Send them to a firearms class, too. It’s not about shooting — it’s about safety. That is the beginning, middle, and end of every firearms class. You probably didn’t buy your kid a car when he got his license, and you don’t need to acquire a gun just because you took the safety training.

Remember those bears I talked about at the begging of this article? You can’t control what the bears do. You can only control what you do. A firearm is not an answer — it is an option. A firearm, safely wielded, may expand the options you have in dealing with belligerent hungry bears. Or half a dozen angry dogs. Being that groceries may be scarce, animals can get pretty crazy. Your are an adult. You read. You know what can happen.

Producing Confidence

But maybe you do go on camping trip and someone brings a dead rabbit to camp. Maybe it was dispatched with a slingshot, maybe with a bow, maybe with a firearm or maybe with a trap. Now it is time to prepare your dinner! Know how to disembowel a rabbit safely? YouTube is helpful, but there is nothing like doing it yourself.

Your self-confidence will soar when your family can kill, prepare, cook and then eat game from the woods. You will believe that you can make it through hard times. Maybe you will think about raising chickens or rabbits in your own backyard once you get your fingers dirty — that’s just a bonus.

Don’t want to gut a cute furry mammal? Then go fishing and clean your catch. It’s the same goo and slime, but cold and not so cute.

Graduation

Now it’s graduation time. Join a late fall deer hunt. In the snow. Deal with frozen water and daily hikes over unmarked territory and the requirement (if you are successful) of moving a hundred pounds of meat back to camp. You will learn to camp in cooperation with others. (Guess what? You’ve already found your first prepping community whether they realize it our not.) You don’t even need to be the hunter.

If you can to this, you’ll be prepared for anything. And you will be a different person. It is immensely rewarding and an unbelievable journey in self confidence.

Gray Matter

All this is about working that gray matter between the ears, forcing it to adopt new neural pathways and training your mind to work through “what if” scenarios. That is neither extreme nor foolish — it is simply the exercise of due diligence by someone responsible for more than their own life. Singletons owe it to others not to be a burden if things go south, and you may even be a great help to others. Then watch out — you will find your friendship in high demand.

Even if you never hunt or shoot, you have already re-arranged neural pathways by finishing this article. Prepping should not be a burden and there is no finish line — it is a state of mind. If you approach it right it will be fun, rewarding and an incredible boost to your self-confidence. And, it might just come in handy some day.




30 Comments

  1. Something is always better than nothing. I think this is a very good approach. I have been encouraging my son to set up camp on our farm so he can camp with his girls. It’s great for spending time together and they might also become familiar with some camping skills. Fortunately the girls like creepy-crawly things. Proverbs 14:26

  2. Wonderful article. Camping is also a great cover story to do some prepping if you have a spouse who thinks prepping is kind of ridiculous. A person who can’t see the logic of being prepared may not resist the idea of family camping. All sorts of prepping items can be obtained without argument or stress.

    As someone who is a born prepper, it’s been interesting to me over the course of a lifetime to realize how many people don’t seem to have a single logistical or strategic strand of DNA in their brain. I was always the girl who had Tylenol, bandaids, tiny tube of antiseptic cream, Chapstick, paper clip, rubber band, nail file, neatly folded Kleenex, Saltine crackers, a wrapped hard candy, etc., etc., in my purse. Yet no amount of persuasion or argument seems able to get another person to plan ahead against potential eventualities, they just don’t seem to have the hardware. It’s just the way it is. And it doesn’t seem necessarily correlated with intelligence; I just mailed 9 rolls from my toilet paper stash to a dear friend, one of the smartest people I know.

    We are just a breed apart. Camping, anyone?!

    1. Totally agree. I am baffled by the people who deny, refuse, ignore (whatever the word) to prep. My hubby is on the fence about it always, but has learned to go along with it to make me happy. But I wish he would be the one taking initiative. He was stranded in our house surrounded by flood waters after hurricane Harvey, but did fine because of the preps I had in place! Water, propane, camp stove, weather radio, lanterns, food etc. He stayed at the house for the animals we have, which I wanted. I don’t want to vent too much here, because he does try. Like you said, it’s just not worked into some people’s DNA.

      This article is really well written, btw.

        1. Hey you guys,

          Me too!! Hubby is on board with all of this but he doesn’t quite look at the big picture like I do
          I wouldn’t trade him for anything though. He’s so funny and doesn’t think I’m nuts when a new item arrives. He just goes, oh wow, good thing you thought of that too!!

          Have a Rockin great day!

          1. Cabot, my Lady said something similar a few weeks ago. She initially went along with my “eccentricity”, but is now fully on board, coming along gradually over the years, with this being the final push she needed.

    2. This is a very interesting subject… How do nature and nurture each contribute to risk assessment and the likelihood that a person will or won’t be a prepper?

      My husband and I share a common life philosophy, and we’re both committed to preparedness. …but we do understand, substantially through the nature of our work, the challenges faced by couples and families in which there are differences in decision making styles as well as the development of priorities.

      Our heartfelt prayers go out to all who face the challenges that can arise when one or more decision makers within a group do not share in the same preparedness commitment. The experience can be confounding, although we encourage everyone to take heart! What we are enduring today may yet awaken more and more people to the need for and value of prepared living.

      Remain steady. Be safe. Stay well everyone!

  3. Good morning to you too Lily!!

    Yikes, we got a surprise 3-4 inches of snow last night! Radio reports massive accidents everywhere on Chicagoland expressways.

    Stay safe everyone

    Have a Rockin great day

  4. FB! Thanks for writing this article! Working through the mental exercise of an experience does help a person prepare, and there are studies to support the idea that thought experiments improve performance once a task moves from the arena of the mind to an actualized physical experience. While there is no perfect substitute for hands-on experience (and what one imagines does not always translate to the physical world), this is a worthy idea among the others presented.

    From your article: “Prepping should not be a burden and there is no finish line — it is a state of mind.”

    Absolutely agreed. Prepping is a philosophy and a lifestyle that helps guide our life practices!

    Remain steady. Be safe. Stay well everyone!

  5. This is a terrific article. I know I’m not the only one, but while reading, (even for the third time), I would pause and seriously think.
    I’m about ready to grab my note pad and read it again so I can make some notes.

    Thanks for this FB. You got my grey matter firing early this morning!

  6. Re: A mattress makes life easier.

    Cheap inflatable pool floats, the kind like mattresses, work wonders as single-trip inflatable mattresses. They even have a “pillow” built in. Besides comfort and a layer of insulation, they work excellent at keeping your gear off the ground if it rains.

    1. I agree with Vegas about using a mattress of some sort while camping. Most of us know that a good night’s sleep is very important camping or in a survival situation. Lack of restful sleep will make you grumpy and not as alert the next day and that could be a disaster in the making. A mattress could consist of a trash bag filled with leaves to a self inflating Thermarest, depending on what supplies you have with you at the time.

      1. THE BACKWOODSMAN magazine a few issues ago had an article on making your own inexpensive sleeping pad, using cut pool noodles as the main body. Cut them to pad width, and string the noodles together so that you form an insulated foam pad for your bag or blankets. You can minimize the length to upper body or for younger members of family.

        Its a good idea for vehicle carried camping, but maybe too bulky for backpacking. No air leaks though.

  7. It’s true, I know many people who cannot or will not even try to contemplate “what-if” scenarios, and what would their plan B look like, they just assume there will be someone else around to bail them out. I’ve learned to my sorrow that it does no good to even offer to instruct them, all that does is put a big bullseye on your back that tells them YOU are the person that will help them when things get tough. They will whine incessantly or try to manipulate me into “helping” because no matter what it’s easier than working. Growing up in rural Alaska prepping was in my DNA from an early age. Having a plan B and even a plan C is just second nature.

  8. Camping? Yep. SOmetimes wet and cold? Yep. learned a few things from those times.

    Now, here is true insight that is hard to learn from experience: “You can’t control what the bears do. You can only control what you do. A firearm is not an answer — it is an option. A firearm, safely wielded, may expand the options you have in dealing with belligerent hungry bears. Or half a dozen angry dogs.”

    Many who might have learned became bear scat. Intelligence and training make the firearm option more effective. I will remind all who I know possessing firearms of these few sentences. Then we can train for smart tactics.

    Carry on in grace

  9. This comment is going to seem trivial I fear but here goes: Ever since I retired so 20 years ago I have been motorhoming or trailering (can’t make up my mind!). Because of this I know exactly how much water we use each day, exactly what foods will keep without refrigeration, exactly how to make bread in a dutch oven, and how important even a little bit of electricity is. Also parking in remote places, busy rest stops and even national and state parks makes one think constantly about situational awareness and safety. Going to Canada means leaving the gun(s) behind but on the up-side it also means leaving most of the thugs behind (although Canada is slowly catching up to us). Driving through LA or San Francisco means planning like it was D-day. Las Vegas requires serious situational awareness as every gas station, 7-11 and Walmart seems to be the hangout of thugs and wannabe thugs (seriously if that sounds too paranoid than you try going to the 7/11 a 10PM in Las Vegas). Some of our favorite camp spots are in the middle of nowhere and sometimes someone else gets their first or worse comes in during the night and parks next to you. I will say that most campers are simply older retired like myself and all you have to fear from them is that they want to talk your ear off. But there are a new cadre of “tweakers” who exist in dilapidated motor homes that barely run and have a metric ton of junk and furniture strapped to the top and they are scary. Waking up to coyote or cougar tracks within 20 feet of your rig is always interesting too. We plan our meals and depend on non-refrigerated food as much as we can because of course the fridge is small (unless you own one of those $300,000 rigs that can even include a fireplace). I carry powdered milk and those $1 store cartons of preserved milk (not bad, tastes just a little like evaporated milk). Another trick we came up with is worth repeating here. Some places, even campgrounds, have water that is drinkable but tastes awful; too many dissolved minerals. So we run the water through a zero water filter (which I was skeptical of) and it is great! The water loses all of it’s mineral taste and is drinkable without disguising it with Kool Aid or some other flavoring. Another hint is when you are camping off grid and have no wifi if you have phone service you can connect by tetherring. (Probably everyone else in the world knew this long before I did.)

    Anyway my point in all of this is that this kind of thing touches on all or most all of the preparations one needs to practice and understand as a prepper.

    1. It’s not trivial. You’re just camping and moving to new sites. And I know you’ve already determined what’s important and necessary for a limited space. I just recently moved into a 29 foot Class C in an RV park. My dream is to start the motor some day and see the country. Bugging out permanently, sort of. Boondocking for sure.

      Thanks for sharing and to Vegas thanks for idea of cheap inflatable pool floats. I have a bunk which I’m not so comfortable on and I’m going to give the pool float a go.

  10. Do not underestimate the value of learning and believing. If someone took everything you have in a shtf situation, they will use it up in stupid ways and very quickly.

    However, they can’t take what is stored in your mind, so do not feel good about a cache of stuff as much as feel good about look learning all you can NOW.

    Of course we don’t want to get caught in any situation where we can’t defend what we’ve prepared for, but none of this is scripted.

  11. Thanks to all, for these comments – I find them fascinating.
    I’m a single, 66 yr old female, in the throes of decision-making, as to where to live.
    After seeing the -fake- panic about the Red Chinese flu, and seeing how many people behave, and the punitive ‘orders’ from guvmint officials, I’m wondering about moving to the boonies. Or to a county with a 2nd A-friendly Sheriff. Or turning to RV’ing. I can basically move wherever I want but am looking at each state’s qualities.
    And its not an easy decision.
    I’ve also taken a survival class, been a semi preppier since the run-up to Y2K, and do know how to use a firearm. Still, I’m unsure about my next step. So I really appreciated this article, and all the comments. Makes me feel as I’m in the company of ‘like minds’!
    Thanks again.

      1. Hi St, and thanks for that Cato link. It has some interesting info; I’ve just crossed Texas off my list, as they want a fingerprint for a drivers license – ha! no way that’s ever happening!
        My search really just involves a handful of states > AZ, ID, NM, NV. I’m partial to staying in AZ. I love it here. Idaho – I know many recommend it but as I look at the housing available, I’m just not feelin’ it.
        And while I like some aspects of NV, their guv’nor is unacceptable. 🙂
        I may be foolish, but am thinking that prices in the southwest will go down, a bit…so my being conflicted right now, may be ok!
        Thanks again.

        1. I don’t know if I am grandfathered in or something, but the only thing Texas dps has my fingerprints on for my LTC. Never had them taken for my Class C drivers license. (I think CDL requires it, or used to) The dmv does take them for other purposes inluding background checks for various agency clearances (FBI, IRS, etc.). My 17yr old did not had to give them fingerprints for her learners permit, will know for sure when they reopen for driving testing so she can her DL.

          1. Hi SP1, thank you for this info. I’d read that on the Cato report regarding how much freedom each state provides.
            So, with your comment, I went to Texas DPS to check, and sadly, they require a thumbprint for a new DL.
            This is tough for me to believe: the great state o’ Texas, doing this???!!!!
            Bad news, indeed.

    1. If you do not need a major hospital near by, check out Sander’s County, Montana. There they have a proven Constitutional Sheriff, not just a recent 2A Sheriff. They also have the highest concentration of vets of any country I know around here.

      By the way, medical doctors might purchase hydroxychloroquin by emailing:
      service@insulinhub.com This is a company in the UK who apparently still have plenty of it stock. Hopefully my friends have picked up theirs before you get yours.
      The are reportedly open 24/7, so one does not have to be concerned with the time difference.

      I’m fortunate to have grown up camping and around firearms, but it is never too late to get started. Car camping is a good start. I remember a back packing trip in Montana in the early 70’s where the deer followed us around for days. They were not afraid of us, and would almost eat of your hand. They did not see many people out there. The black bear were not afraid either, and they would invite themselves in. Black bear with cubs are dangerous. 12ga shotgun perimeter alarms are good for bear. Add a touch of black powder to your home-made blank cartridge to make them louder. It is good for around the house and chicken coup too.

      Yes, being a true survivalist should be measured not in how high their pile of stuff is, but by their mindset. Mindset separates us from them. Of course a pile of stuff is evidence that they may be developing the necessary mindset, yet if they do not have the mindset, their conventional set of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs could prove to be trouble for you. A full blown survivalist also values knowledge and skills over stuff, cause stuff alone, ain’t enough.

  12. I thank the Lord for the Boy Scouts of America in the 1970’s. My Dad who was a fisherman, hunter & trapper who instilled in me a profound sense of adventure and the joy of solitude. My mom who always kept a double barrel shotgun nearby and was strict enough for us kids to obey her rules without question regarding said gun. It took me aback to read this article and think of how many people really don’t know this basic stuff. I know I’m clueless about society and live in my own world, but wow. I now thank Jesus that I was brought up how and when I was and I pray for the rest of the world. I believe the nastiness will be ramping up for the rest of my life. There is no going back.

  13. A 3 or 4 day backpacking trip is excellent training. Carry your food, pack, clothes, sanitation implements, portable house and bed in November or March and do your best to keep it under 55lbs.
    Follow the trail and terrain with a map and compass, leave the gps at home.
    Wool is your friend, cotton your enemy.
    The fire at night is pure delight.
    A hot meal is a gift from God.
    A hot coffee or tea and peanut butter and jelly is a 5 star snack.
    A warm & dry sleeping bag is heaven.
    Hearing a coyote or screech owl is special.
    Finding tea berries is like finding manna.
    Finding your soul on a tough long climb gets you talking to the Lord.
    When you come out of the wild, your spirit is changed.

  14. F.B. –

    Excellent article and I love your writing style.

    Yes, the first step toward being prepared is using your brain and thinking of all the ‘what ifs.”

    I was never much of a camper until I joined an historical reenactment group. I took the kitchen sink as well as everything else I could possibly need along with me. We called it “decadent camping” long before someone coined the term “glamping.” I got a lot of teasing but whenever anyone needed something they forgot or didn’t bother to pack, they would show up at my tent to see if I had it. And I usually did!

    See… prepping mindset. What can go wrong and what will I need to overcome the challenge or inconvenience?

    My DH and I are equally committed to this journey. It makes the trip much easier. We each have our own projects based on our individual areas of expertise and then we have mutual projects. I doubt we will ever finish them all but we have goals to work toward. Isn’t that what life should be about?

  15. To the night stocker,
    I’m of the same mind set about teaching and people coming to my house. I’ve quit trying to teach. Some said they will come, to which I say we will have a neighborhood watch on steroids. It is almost like living a duel personality. Listening to people not wanting to listen or even consider preparing or thinking about the “what ifs”, all the while I’m developing, working, and planning for the things that I expect and that are now upon us.
    A very good post and I resemble your comment.

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