The Number One, Must-Have Survivalist Tool

Doomsday Housing Plan / Image courtesy of Duron123 /

Doomsday Housing Plan / Image courtesy of Duron123 /

I attended a Preparedness & Survival Expo in August.  One excellent speaker, Jay Blevins, who has been featured on National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers,” talked about the 6 foundational aspects of prepping. At the top of the survival list?

Having the proper mindset.

This means having the will to survive, even when things get downright ugly, insecure and uncomfortable–and in the event of a ‘doomsday’ scenario, they inevitably will.  Having a strong mindset allows you to handle being outside of your comfort zone and losing your creature comforts.  That’s not a bad life skill to have for just everyday scenarios that can be their own scaled-down, personal version of doomsday, such as job loss.

I know I’ve gone soft in terms of handling anything outside of my comfort zone.  I’ve been running my writing consulting business by day, and working on my own writing on the side, including a collaborative effort at the Waterfront Writers website.  I’ve noticed that the outdoors features prominently in my stories.  Maybe that’s because lately, my outdoors pursuits have fallen by the wayside, and I feel the lack of connection with nature in my life and that sense you get of being able to find your way if needed.  In my comfortable world, this present shifting of priorities has been a good thing on the one hand, but also a mini-trauma–one I can luckily undo by shifting priorities around a bit so I can re-connect to the outdoors.

One thing I used to do to get out of my comfort zone is to go camping.  I didn’t go camping this year–and I realize that isn’t sufficient preparation for having a survivalist mindset when it’s only car camping.  But there was no way I was going to get my son to backpack, so I was always happy to just get the little gamer that far out of reach of a game console.  I have, however, had survivalist scenarios occur while car camping, such as camping next to neighbors where I wasn’t sure about their survival prospects after I’d listened to hours of their noisy shenanigans well into the night.  But I digress…

In a doomsday scenario, you may have only the bug-out pack on your back, and the only fire pit and picnic bench at your disposal will be what you create out of what you find.  And with that, you’ll need a mindset that accepts the situation and flows with it.

Car camping does serve to take me out of my self-created bubble world and remind me that I still have a lot to learn about self-reliance–and that means above and beyond earning a living.  My mindset is just fine for the daily dramas of life.  But you can always be mentally stronger, and it’s an area I want to explore more in-depth.

But not tonight.  I need a hot bath, a steaming cup of tea and then a little television.

How about you: do you feel you’d be mentally prepared should complete chaos and anarchy occur? Leave a comment! And if you don’t mind, go take a look at the website I’m collaborating on – we have four chapters posted for our new web series.  Help me justify my ‘gone soft’ condition on the Waterfront Writers

Prepping… What’s So Funny?


Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

I attended the Mid-Atlantic Emergency Preparedness and Survival Expo over the weekend. I’ve read many articles and online comments about preppers, and there are a few common reactions: respect, a knowing wink, or an outright insult and dismissal as a bunch of crackpots.

It may be the use of the term “doomsday.” It has Hollywoodesque connotations of unreality. Or, maybe it’s the seemingly excessive lengths that some preppers go that may induce eye-rolling, such as the building of bunkers. It’s too easy to look at recent history, when folks in the 50’s built nuclear fallout shelters, and judge them as excessive because we know nothing happened to require their use. So anyone building a shelter or bunker today is seen as over the top because there is seemingly nothing to warrant such extravagance.

Who’s to say? Just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it won’t, but it’s all a matter of personal taste.

While any pursuit can be taken to an extreme, learning skills that promote independence and the ability to take care of yourself and your loved ones is inherently a good thing. I don’t think you need to throw the baby out with the bath water and cut all ties to society. We are still social creatures, and working together to prevent “doomsday” scenarios from occurring still makes sense.

Besides, it’s all fun and games and mockery until the unexpected hits. It doesn’t have to be a complete collapse. How many people have experienced the inconvenience of a power outage? I can’t get water from my well when the power is out–talk about feeling helpless. It takes little inconveniences like that to make you realize… I’m really dependent on a system that when it works, great. But ask the people who lived through Hurricane Katrina what the system was like there. Can anyone forget the people stranded without drinking water?

My favorite snarky comments I see with prepper-related articles (isn’t the comment section one of the liveliest bits of any article?) are those that say, “I’ll just go take a prepper’s stuff if need be.” If that isn’t a classic case of entitlement, I don’t know what else would qualify. The funny thing is, the commenter probably relies on GPS and wouldn’t be able to find a prepper, so maybe they’d better think of putting some gallons of water by instead of thinking they’re going to turn into Mad Max. Better to focus on developing Mad Skills, baby.

The speakers at the Expo were a diverse group with a range of background experience. It was with passion that they shared their knowledge. Some might look askance at the fact that they each had something to sell. I can’t fault anyone for packaging their knowledge or creating products and selling them. It’s still the American way. And, it didn’t seem like anyone was trying to bilk the crowd or getting rich off their endeavors. People plunk down money for things of far less value, and anyone willing to pay for knowledge or practical products has probably made a wise investment.

I took pages of notes and look forward to sharing tidbits over the coming weeks. But first, what do you think about the prepper ‘movement’? Folly, or foresight?