Hiding in Plain Sight – There Are Others Like Us

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from R. Ann Parris who has recently contributed quite a few articles to our site with a few more in the pipeline as well! If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

Some of us are not huge into the word “prepper” even though that’s what we are. Some of us don’t like it, and some of us don’t want others to associate it with us. Media attention has led to an uptick in preparedness-minded forums, blogs and news sites, but it has also contributed to things like *that show* that some of us would rather keep our distance from.

There are people like us, though – even if they don’t use the phrase and don’t associate it with anything but the ridiculous TV shows, and certainly not themselves.

These are the people we can go to, explaining simply that we’d like to get closer to our roots, learn a new skill, indulge in a hobby, live more connected to our history and the land around us, or that we’d like to be more self-sufficient for environmental or health reasons. No “P” word involved.

We can look these people up individually with simple internet searches. There are regularly forums with state breakdowns for these people, or fairly local ones who have decided to blog about their experiences. We can find them at farmer’s markets, by posting flyers at the county co-op, and by seeking out similar-skill clubs – a sewing circle may be a good place to show up with cupcakes and go, “please, I’m of a helpless generation and don’t know how to make or mend clothes or costumes”.

We can ask if they’d mind us coming to help and learn, or if they have some task we can accomplish. Especially with things like the sewing clubs and HAM radio (really, really with HAM radio – be forewarned), people love what they’re doing or they remember starting themselves. The old timers we’re most interested in and the passion-oriented types are routinely just delighted to tell and show somebody all about their skill.

When we find enough of them, we may realize that we have a pretty good set of community skills we never realized were nearly on our doorstep, and we have a chance of working in networks to increase the self-sufficiency of our neighborhoods – without ever forming that MAG or using that P-word. They are all out there and many are hiding in plain sight, if you know what you are looking for.

What potential prepper resources are hiding in plain sight?


So who are these undercover preparedness human resources?

  • Homesteaders, organic farmers, free-range and pasture-fed livestock owners
  • Livestock keepers on dedicated forums for rabbits, chickens and goats
  • CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture)
  • Master Gardener’s, community garden initiatives, guerrilla/outlaws gardeners
  • Permaculturists/permies, “edimental” designers and growers (edible ornamental – A.K.A., HOA dodgers), edible landscapers
  • Aquaculture farmers and growers
  • Farmer’s market vendors (bee keepers, goat and cattle and pig products, jams and jellies, veggie and fruit growers)
  • Small rodeo and horse show participants and organizers (small, and hit an event and collect cards, stroll around and write down info from truck and trailer doors, nod and shake hands; don’t be too much of a pest during, unless you see an old person watching avidly by themselves – that’s somebody to sit beside and strike up a conversation with)
  • ASPCA and private farm animal volunteers and fosters
  • Horse-donkey-mule-pony owners and farriers
  • *Quilting and crochet clubs
  • *Programs and groups that make blankets and clothing for veterans, Wounded Warriors, neonatal hospital patients, disenfranchised children, women’s and children’s shelters (sorry, dudes, you don’t usually get as much play), and Humane Society, APSCA and private companion animal and livestock rescues
  • *Canning, dehydrating, and preserving clubs and groups (try looking on Facebook and for forums, and add posts for locals if you need in-person help)

*Some of these may be run through various churches and community clubs like the YMCA; also check senior citizen clubs – they may have one and let you come play even if you’re under 55-65, if you’re nice/lucky


  • Hunters, trappers
  • Anglers, hand-seiners, non-powered launch trap and line fishermen
  • Foragers, wild food fanatics
  • 100-mile diet and slow-food movement forums and blogs (looking for locals for their sources)
  • “Dude” ranches and the equivalent for old skills
  • Tourist traps like Williamsburg with period crafters
  • Period reenactment aficionados (CAS/SASS is not going to be helpful for preparedness besides some multi-target, multi-gun practice)
  • **Shooting enthusiasts
  • **Sports shooting events (just to watch and develop a contact or two to try the gear before signing up or buying in; be nice and provide some ammo or lunch and a beer), particularly those with precision (hunting; CMP rimfire & modern military rifle, trap and skeet) or speed-holster work (tactical; IDPA, CAS, IPSC, Three-Gun and Two-Gun)
  • **Self-defense groups and clubs (many will have a membership, but you can watch and maybe make a contact for outside assistance, just like shooting)

**Word of warning: “Military/Veteran” is not equivalent to “strategy, tactics and firearm be-all, end-all”; many military members served in a support field and without effort on their part to participate in more, only fire 1-2 qualifications a year, and outside select MOS’s, do not ever touch or see used a pistol or shotgun. Our tactics for convoys, operations, and shooting standards and training have changed immensely in the last 10 and 20 years, jungle to urban to desert and back again.

I mean no disrespect. I am a military veteran. I started in a white-collar field and lat moved to public affairs and combat correspondence. I’ve gotten to see a lot of the services as well as the Marine Corps MOS’s.

“Wanted-military/veterans” from the warm-fuzzy motivation is great but seeing it tucked into a list along with farmer/gardener, herbal medicine, livestock raiser, etc. like a specialty is guaranteed to make me roll my eyes a little – we may have some distinct and shared skills, but not all military service is created equal. And on that note, strategy and tactics are two different things, but without one, the other is doomed. Likewise, no intel, no comms, no op.

  • Lumberjack competitions and competitors
  • Blacksmiths, tinsmiths
  • Survivalists, bush-craft, and wild-crafting (maybe search for blogs, clubs and groups, otherwise schools are going to pop instead)
  • Hikers, backpackers (especially through-packers), and overnight kayakers and rafters,
  • Campers and RVers


Want to make your own soaps and lotions, dip candles, spin animal and plant fibers and dye it with more plants, tan your own hides from real rennet? There’s a forum, blogs and Facebook pages for that. You can get firsthand knowledge to answer questions, and you can start finding a local to learn from hands-on.

Table the evangelizing…

…at least for a little while.

When we’re passionate about something – anything – we tend to want to talk people into it. Especially when it’s something that could save them, and something that seems so utterly obvious and irrefutable to us. Yet one of the common things we see on forums is “my community/family is useless and won’t open their eyes, no matter how hard I hammer”.

So don’t hammer.

If you must use a P word, try preparedness instead of prepper. If you can stick an interest under the mantle of being a greenie/environmentalist or interest in homesteading and self-sufficiency instead of prepping, even better. Try working in hints and baby steps using sales and saving money, then the FEMA/Red Cross “normal” stuff before working up to an “insurance” aspect for job loss or big bills. As soon as somebody stops being responsive, stop trying.

If they’re not interested in a supply of UHT milk, Pop Tarts and canned soup so they don’t have to join the mobs emptying Buy’N’Large ahead of a storm – again – you’re not going to convince them of aliens, Nibiru, pole shifts, mind- or weather-controlling chemtrails or RFID chips in vaccines, NWO, global crop failure or pandemic, near-future Waterworld, object in space, Great Depression 2.0, IT-blanking virus, another 1859, nuclear threats, or anything else.

(I don’t poke things people prepare for, although I like the general approach myself. That stuff’s serious as religion, and I don’t poke people’s religions. My favorite deity and Mother Nature made a bunch of different types of trees, fish, and dogs, so I figure they’re okay with diversity everywhere. Be polite to each other – we have enough enemies in this world already.)

It’s natural that we want the world and our communities to be better prepared. We have to be smart about how we try to open their eyes, or we will most commonly drive them away. Some people just have to touch the oven to learn it’s hot. Then they might be more interested in preventing and treating burns, at least for a little while.

We’re there to learn from them without becoming the topic of conversation at the co-op, church or the water cooler. That’s the priority. Eyes on the prize. Anything else is just a bonus.

Expand where you look

Usually things like homeopathic healing and field surgery are going to have to be incidental bonuses associated with things like the period reenactors and freaky-greenie growers of one vein or another, but give it a whirl. Type in your city, county or state, and see what pops up.

You may be surprised by just how many people with a useful skill or set of skills are in your area.

Finding people who specialize in an interest, and being able to cloak our preparedness motivation for joining in their interest, allows us to gain the skills and sometimes the partners and commiseration we desperately need, without exposing ourselves as crazy nut-jobs like the ones on TV.

We have nothing to lose but a few internet searches, some phone calls, and some time spent hanging out in places they do. Since college football is long over and we’re going to be stuck with baseball on the radio and TV forever, it’s not like we have anything better to do.

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  • Huples

    Excellent article. Thank you.

    Not sure about the USA but local communities in Canada have adult education that often includes some of the ideas detailed above and at a reasonable cost.
    I think many of us over use Utubby; I know I do; but hands on is always the way to go and especially with an experienced mentor.

    Groupons also deliver experiences frequently for us but then I live near a major city. This Spring we are doing archery basics for 4 hours, foraging for a day, and even a basic day on wilderness survival. Costing us about $65 Canadian each or about three dollars American 🙂 I do not feel I need the basic survival day but we are scheduled off work so why not?

    The Prepper label. Honestly I do not care. Labels are not worth getting worked up about. I never use it to describe myself except on Prepper forums. Resilience is my goal, the ability to cope/transcend anything that could go wrong. The fringe of prepping is a scary place but the fringes of all movements always is.

    The point about the military/vet label is well worth pointing out and I hope it does not get negative reactions. I am a “nurse”. There are a lot of nurses as there are a lot of vets. I worked trauma level three for two decades and now I run the trauma hospital (all of it) at night. I figure out all the things that go wrong and lead all types of code response. The Canadian Government has trained me for nuclear incidents.I mention this to amplify the author’s point about “vets”. A nurse who has worked twenty years in ED will be more useful than me in giving care (by a big margin) but I sound more impressive 🙂 A nurse who runs a nursing home will always be less useful than the ED nurse or myself. Sorry but that is the truth. Pick those who do rather than those who could/might do. Applies to all jobs.
    There are a few very skilled military people who have never formally served in any branch of the armed forces. They do not talk about it ever but they are very worth knowing!

    • R. Ann

      “The fringe of prepping is a
      scary place but the fringes of all movements always is.” x2 that!!! 🙂

      I feel like sometimes labels become more constraining than they do defining. “Prepper” is a relatively new term, and the survivalist-prepper divide has caused fangs to grow on some forums, but it’s also now associated with a certain TV show where every other person is either truly or edited to be a nut job. In some cases, that OpSec monkey is another one that jumps on our backs, and the term becomes confining in a different way.

      Thanks for the nursing-veteran backup. I added and deleted and rewrote and deleted that one several times, but I was around too many fields and am now around too many group-finder and forum sites where that military/veteran stamp is tossed around one way or another, with even other veterans making assumptions about the skills and focuses, not only of other services and fields, but even generations of service. Fingers crossed!

      Have a good one! – Rebecca Ann

  • Chris McCarty

    Very good article. I read a couple of books that made me realize that my family needs to be prepared. We have a long ways to go, but we are making progress. I liked the emphasis on skills. I took up shooting a few years ago and making sure my wife and son are educated as well. We have always been gardeners. I am learning how to fish and hunt. In the past I have relied on my father-in-law for venison. This year my goal is to get it myself. Thanks for the insight!

    • R. Ann

      Thanks! Hunting is a great goal and so is fishing. I do it to check out of Big Ag. The more I look around, the more I realize how important the home-raised and “quiet” meats like rabbit are (nod to the rabbit starvation diet – most weeds are rich in the nutrients that prevent it).

      Congrats on moving forward with your goals and good luck to expanding them!

    • Good luck on your first buck! I wanted to comment that fishing as a hobby and fishing for survival can be two different creatures. While it’s fun to cast and catch them, in times of social upheaval you may consider fishing methods that would be illegal in most jurisdictions: partially damming streams and using nets or traps. This allows you to set up food retrieval places that you do not have to directly monitor. Other humans and wild animals may damage, destroy or rob from your fishing holes so always carry a fire arm to check the traps. There are almost as many ways to survive as there are survivalists so find what works for you! 🙂

  • Boondocker385

    I would add to look for people who reload their own ammo. Also there are plenty of places to learn first aid and get advanced training and many rural fire departments and doctors offices where you can volunteer. ,

  • MilkMaid

    You won’t find me at half of the places you mentioned, simply because I refuse to advertise what I am. I’d rather go about my business here at the homestead than sit around with a bunch of people who tend to talk a lot. (Grew up going to sewing circles with mom, it’s a gossip fest.)
    Its kind of like seeing the boss out walking on a nice day for exercise, when in reality she can get all the exercise she wants at work if she’d pitch in and help when things got busy. (Too busy making plans on her phone or surfing the ‘net I guess!)

  • Fifth_Disciple

    I was twelve years old when the Cuban Missile Crisis happened. I remember how afraid my mother was. Those who could afford it built fallout shelters. We couldn’t afford it so we looked for the things we could do. Back then the term was survivalist. Like the saying goes, the name has changed but the game stays the same.
    Mom instilled in me the desire to be self sufficient. Fifty years later I’m prepared for what ever comes. The best advice I can give is to tell you it’s a lifestyle not a game you play on weekends. You don’t buy preparation as much as you build it and anything you build is only as strong as the foundation you build it on. Enough said.

  • Bolofia

    Good article, and with many useful tips that apply to seasoned preppers as well as those just starting out. If I may add a word of caution to your comments about military and tactical/survival skills: If you are seeking to gain or increase knowledge in these areas, be prepared to undergo some level of vetting by the people you approach. You may very well have to build up a level of trust with some individuals before they take you into their group. Your motives and conduct may be very important factors in their decision to share knowledge and skills.

  • gman

    I dunno man, I think all the REAL preppers already are bunkered down in their own private Idahos. If someone is talking to you, likely they’re not REAL preppers.

    • RegT

      I’ve been into self-sufficiency (“prepping”) for over forty years. Having moved cross country several times (mostly for new jobs, training in new skills), I’ve had to rebuild my stocks several times, but that’s just the price I paid for the training and experience I gained.

      I’ve been a construction worker, an EMT (ambulance and ER), a registered nurse, police officer, helicopter pilot, a novice welder/fabricator, rancher (horses, dairy goats, chickens and truck garden), logged with horses, and lived aboard a sailboat on the East Coast and the Bahamas. All packed into over 65 years of living. I _love_ to talk to folks who are interested, whether it is in learning to reload, cast bullets, build a cabin, milk a goat, harness a team of draft horses (I raised Shires for a few years), grow and store food, sail a boat, or even fly a helicopter or a single engine fixed wing aircraft.

      If you are honestly interested, not just nosy or bored, there are a lot of us older folks who enjoy sharing some of what we have learned over the years.