Teach Us How to Fish – Educating on The Prepper Lifestyle

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Editors Note: Another guest contribution from valknut79 to The Prepper Journal. The views expressed herein are those of the writer, unedited except for the added pictures to drive home points. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

I was lucky enough to win the last round of the Prepper Writing Contest supported by this site. I have been contributing articles to the site for about a year now, having been involved in the prepper lifestyle for about six years. I have contributed close to 20 articles since the I began, receiving both high praise and harsh criticism for my views on preparedness (something that will, I’m sure, happen to anyone who contributes to such a vocal and opinionated field such as this). Winning the last contest was a great boon to me, and while I certainly appreciate the prize money, the rewards of being voted on, and knowing that it was my opinions and research that inspired people to choose my work, was the real prize here.

My job for a living is teaching, and as summer is around the corner, it is a time of reflection over the school year that is now passing us by. One reflection in particular that has struck me is the need for building of community. With rampant violence in schools across the nation, a mental health crisis among teens, a consistent drop-out rate, and an adult population that has a political party-line schism like never before in my lifetime, signs are everywhere that our country cannot survive into the future with things as they are.

In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of the liberal prepper, a great increase in the popularity of our lifestyle thanks in part to the Doomsday Prepper show, and more mainstream visibility, if not acceptance.

What are preppers like you doing to welcome new people into the hobby? What are you doing to teach others how to live?

Many will say that in asking these questions, I’m forgetting a very basic principle of preparedness. A lot of preppers believe that being in prepping is a lot like being in Fight Club. Preppers don’t tell others, even fellow preppers, about what they’ve been doing around the house to increase the size of their food and water storage. We try to disguise our property and lean-to shelters to prevent their discovery. I’ve seen people who believe that it is best to even garden in such a way as to disguise the fact that their collection of plants is meant to be a sustainable food source. Preppers are so secretive about prepping that isolation and secrecy are core tenets of what they do.

Nothing I have to say is going to dispute that in many cases, this is the proper technique. Some level of secrecy is important in a lifestyle like this. If everyone at my school knew of my life as a prepper, when an emergency situation occurs, some 2,000 families might end up on my doorstep looking for handouts.

If, however, I were to teach one or two basic preparedness techniques to each of those 2,000 families, how many fewer would come knocking at my door? With 2,000 families a little more prepared, maybe even just to the FEMA recommended three days of food stored in cupboards, my community would be in much less dire straits. If a few can store enough to survive a flood, while others remember how to start fires, or others find an excuse to go emergency camping with a bug out bag, thoes people would be safe, and maybe not coming to find me to save them.

A common hobby in preparedness circles is to play a “what if” game of scenarios. What if the power grid collapses? We have no electricity, and those who cannot build a fire may be frozen to death during the depths of winter. What if the government collapses? Those without weapons will become targets for roving bandits. In the most common of the “what if” scenarios I’ve been asked about, we see someone coming to your front door, asking for help. Many people answer the question by simply turning the stranger away. Others have suggested inviting them in and showing bare pantries, hiding the actual cache of food somewhere else in the house. Others have suggested holding cans of rotten, poisoned or spoiled food, and giving those away as a deterrent to future attack. My suggestion is that the best answer to this question of what to do may be to preempt the situation entirely: remove the majority of the door knockers in the first place.

Imagine volunteering for a summer camp experience where you teach young teens how to build a fire using a ferro rod. It can be a one-shot deal, or you could become a camp counselor for the whole two-week session and potentially make a a little money. Many of those kids will think that what you did is really cool, and will forget what to do before they even make it to dinner, but one of those young people might start carrying their pocket knife on a daily basis, and replace their pukka shell necklace with a ferro rod and striker. You have instilled self-reliance in a young person, and created one less pop culture zombie of the future, turning a potential door-knocker into someone who has a modicum of skill and a love of a few of the gateways to prepper culture.

Libraries offer seminar series, and are always striving to find new volunteers willing to speak on almost any topic. Disaster preparedness, especially in the wake of a major earthquake, flood, or other newsworthy event, makes for a well-attended seminar. It’s a chance for you not only to get the word out about basic preparedness, but to make a friend in the audience, and again persuade some families to keep a few boxes of ramen noodles and water bottles in the pantry if nothing else.

Community involvement doesn’t need to stop there. Our community recently invested in a community composting pile near our community gardens. This small step towards ecology will hopefully teach future generations of gardeners about their ability to create natural, sustainable fertilizer sources for their garden, and maybe inspire some to start the same frugal and ecologically responsible practices at home. Sponsoring projects like this in your local community is certainly at the top of the difficulty ladder, but would perhaps make the greatest impact.

If nothing else, I think a good place to start is in writing an article in an area of specialization that you have, and submitting it to this website. I write a number of logistical planning pieces and “top ten” style lists for the site, and other contributors add their information about firearms, gardening, budgeting and bartering, or basic preparedness, but there is so much more that could be gleaned from the site if a number of other authors began contributing on different topics (even if it does make it harder on my winning the writing contest again).

Teaching and community involvement is not something that comes easily to a community that prides itself on secrecy, self-reliance, bluffing, and a certain level of treachery. It goes to show by the fact that, despite having one of the most common real names in America, and basically being unfindable on a google search of my full name, that I write my articles using a pen name. If I were to instead just put my name out there, I could sleep tight at night knowing that I’ll never be truly found, but old habits die hard. Getting active and involved in your community, teaching others about the frugal, independent and mindful lifestyle of preparedness is, in a lot of ways, the ultimate prep. It means that your neighbors will be willing to help you in a shortage, because they have, in their own way, prepared for at least a little of what is to come. It’s the final step that we need to survive as a country, as a community, and as a collective of individuals, and something that I hope you all consider.

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