Greetings, my fellow SurvivalBlog readers! My name is Michael, and I am seventeen years old. I live somewhere on the East Coast of the United States of America with my mother and father. To the rest of the world, I appear a normal teenage boy: Glued to my iPad, where I read SurvivalBlog each night before bed, obsessed with both new and old music, and always quoting music lyrics, movies and television shows with my friends. Yet what both the majority my friends and society do not know is for the last year I have been preparing for The End of the World as We Know It. Yes, dear reader, it affects even the youngest in our society: this fear of a “world gone mad.” Generally, optimism is my life philosophy, but I see society on a dangerous trend towards self-ruination. Realism has taken deep root in the way that I handle the world around me. My goal for this essay is to be the example to those who say that they cannot prepare because of financial, familial, social, political, or other factors. I also want to give those holed away in the mountains or in “The Unnamed Western State” a sense of peace, knowing that regular, everyday citizens of our society understand that preparing for a future that might not come to fruition is better than partying on and having to learn the hard way.
My prepping story began when I was eight years old. My parents bought me a copy of the book The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht. I fell in love with the book, as it revealed how to land a plane, jump off a building (and there is a safe way!), and escape from killer bees. The book made me think of the classic cheesy Hollywood inspired “doomsday” films that seem to open each summer blockbuster season. I thought, “How would I take care of myself if something terrible happened?” Thankfully, those thoughts faded just as quickly as they came. I still have the book a full eight years after my days dreaming of the end of the world. However, prepping fell out of my thoughts for many years, as I entered an academically challenging school where my time to consider such things was severely diminished under the weight of 12 page research papers, math homework and more. Prepping, like an urge to contact a long-forgotten friend, though, did come back. One of my father’s friends is a gunsmith and a prepper who gave me a paperback of one of James Wesley Rawles’ novel Patriots. I was in tenth grade at the time. The book did not stand a chance against my voracious appetite to keep turning the pages: I finished it within a day. Going back and reviewing the elaborate ways that the Gray’s prepared The Group” for TEOTWAWKI-style living was quite a shock, and made me consider The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook a trifling attempt to capture some of what the fictional Grays did at their wilderness fortress.
As I thought about Patriots, I considered where I was located in the country and the world. Being on the East Coast, many nuclear power plants exist and are an open target for some form of terrorist takeover or attack. Nuclear threats from a “rogue state” like Iran or North Korea could be a threat, but many years further on. By the time that North Korea has a missile that can reach where I am and stay in one piece, I will be dead and gone, and thus I considered myself safe. Yet such events as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), Flu pandemic, economic collapse and innumerable more catastrophes made me reconsider my “high on the horse” mentality quickly. As I did then, I continue to want to leave the East Coast for good, as I see it leading to the destruction of the American way of life and a haven for looters and other miscreants after a TEOTWAWKI event. As it turns out my father has a job opportunity that will take him west after I graduate high school. Naturally, my mother and I will follow him out there. As Robinson Jeffers said in his poem Shine, Perishing Republic, which includes this stanza:
“But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center;
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster’s feet there are left the mountains.”
I believe that prepping is a task best undertaken by the community that surrounds oneself. My parents, for example, are my strongest and most dedicated supporters on this long and arduous process of collecting and storing the things necessary to continue life as we know it. My mother has kidney, sinus, back, and other health concerns that force me to stock up on such products such as antibiotics, namely Levofloxin and Avalox. As a family, we also contract many other infections, and to combat this I attempt to keep a full prescription of Amoxicillin inside of my bug-out-bag, just in case. Advil, Tylenol, Mucinex, sleeping medications, cough drops and more play as crucial a role in my bug-out-bag as a room full of ammunition or a new AR-15 would be to an otherwise “healthy” prepper, given our medical histories and other complications. Procuring these medications, especially the antibiotics, requires nothing short of an act of Congress to get, as doctors are more reticent now than ever to forking over such prescriptions for infections that do not exist. Nevertheless, my mother and father allow me to store these medications when obtainable in an effort to protect us from what may lie around the corner.
In addition, as a family, we also work as a team on buying such things as ammunition. Our gun battery is not what I would consider sufficient, yet we are making strides forward. We have a 9mm Glock Model 17 and a .22 Long Rifle Beretta handgun. Because the nature of ammo is transient on the shelves in Wal-Mart or any other dealer, just finding ammo in either of these calibers is an act of Providence! My father enlists the help of my mother to purchase ammo in the “bulk packs”, as an individual can only purchase one per day. I am the one who stores and checks all of the ammo for defects once purchased, keeping it separate from our firearms, which are in my parent’s room, locked up. Nothing like a little bit of physical distance to keep “the lock from the key”. In addition, my mother is supportive of my father and I going to a local gun range every so often and honing our skills, of which I am grateful for her trust in my fathers and my abilities.
Because I have supportive parents, they fostered my desire to form my very own bug-out-bag. My first bag was a disaster. I constructed it last year, and at the time, it was the best thing since sliced bread to me. It was a L.L. Bean backpack that I had formerly used for school, but now insisted that it needed repurposing into a “survival kit.” My father was none too pleased because I had just gotten this backpack, but my mother was yielding, buying me a new backpack to replace the one that would soon become my “survival kit.” I woefully overfilled this poor backpack, whose purpose was to carry about 15 to 20 pounds for only a brief time. I weighed it at one point and was horrified to find that it weighed 45 pounds! I could barely carry it 15 steps when relaxed and not stressed, let alone under duress. My mother had forbid me to carry it outside the house, fearing for my physical safety! Yet, as I got older and wiser, I realized that a frame bag would take a majority of the weight from the supplies and distribute it, making carrying 45 pounds similar to carrying 20 in my current bag. After finally having this stroke of genius, I went out and purchased a Kelty Redstone 60 frame backpack. I spent the big money, and it was absolutely worth every penny. Now I can pack so much more than I could have in my old bag, and not even feel a difference! I ascertained a moral out of this: Always buy the best gear that you can afford, and make sure that it is applicable to the job you want it to do.
Now that I have made my decision and have a better bug-out-bag than I did before, I can now pack my bag with more than I ever imagined I could. Now, I have 5 days worth of clothes and food in my bag at all times, ready to go. In addition, I have a Kaito Voyager radio for staying in touch with the outside world, a 3 D-cell MagLite flashlight, a small quantity of ammunition, all of my medical supplies, toiletries and more. In addition to the bag itself, however, my room can be converted into survivalist headquarters in the event of a catastrophe. A set of clothes that include a L.L. Bean rain coat, blue jeans, sweat pants, long johns, and boot socks stay perched atop my Sturm T0 sleeping bag, which I recently purchased. The bag is amazing: it can keep me warm on even cold concrete, and while I may wake up stiff, I can sleep easy knowing that I will not become ill from being chilled. I also love the Sturm because it connects perfectly to the bottom of my Kelty bug-out-bag, where I would connect it for easy carrying if an event forced an evacuation of my home. In addition, my steel-toe boots sit beside my bed at night, along with a pair of Teva sandals and flip flops, just in case. This setup is just the “Warm weather” or “hurricane season” wear; I make the change from my “Winter weather” to “Warm weather” whenever the temperature remains above 60 degrees F at night, as only then could I survive in my summer clothes outdoors. Yet when the temperature dives below 60 degrees F at night, I make a swift change to my survival supplies, bringing out the “Winter Weather” supplies. These changes include bringing out ski pants that I have in my closet to an accessible place for quick access, bringing out my LL Bean heavy winter coat, filling it with a lighter, hand and boot warmers, Clif Bars and a small flashlight. This jacket stays next to the ski pants, where they sit in preparation for whatever life may throw at them. I also replace the sandals and flip flops with a pair of Bass winter boots that sit next to my steel toe boots, ever ready to tackle the next problem.
While my parents and I think that these plans are fantastic and prudent, there are many detractors. Some questions that I seem to get a lot from both friends my age and adults: How do you plan to implement these plans? Where would you go if you could no longer stay at your home? Why are you a “prepper” anyway? I will answer these questions respectively, starting with how my family and I would implement these plans. If there was ever a catastrophe great enough to displace thousands from their homes, and this happened at least 60 miles from my house, we would make the getaway plans effective. I would grab my bug-out-bag, put on my spare clothes I keep by my bed, put on shoes or boots, grab additional clothes that are stored in my closet, grab the family ammo tin, my watches and any other sentimental items that can be transported without additional weight. My mom and dad would grab their kits and any small items they would need and we would move to either my mother or my father’s car. The decision on which car to take would be on the amount of gas in each. As for where we would end up, we have a family friend that lives “somewhere out West” that has agreed to take us in if any catastrophe ever happened, and this is where we would formulate our plans to either return home, stay put, or move further out west, depending on the situation. As for why I personally am a “prepper”. I believe in a Supreme Being that has endowed me with enough intellect to understand when times are getting rough. With many potential threats to society now becoming apparent (CME, Yellowstone Eruption, Power grid failure, economic collapse, etc), now is the hour to hear the “little voice” within us all and begin making preparations not only for ourselves, but for the next generation of Americans as well. These preparations do not have to be on a massive scale to be a benefit; rather it is the small steps that move us forward with more wisdom and guidance than those who will attempt too great a stride too late, succumbing to a TEOTWAWKI style event rather than being a survivor.
I sincerely hope that this article has inspired you all to either begin preparing for events outside our “Circles of Influence”, or to continue on a path that protects you from those events. My family and I pray daily for the SurvivalBlog readership and the aversion of devastating events. I wish you all the best. Never Surrender. Stay Strong.