–October 14, 2016–
Prepper Camp, really?
The name says it all. A three-day annual mid-September gathering of serious preppers in the forested hills of southwestern North Carolina. Countless booths, countless demonstrations and countless seminars filling the days. Campfires to sit around in the evenings, and stars to sleep under.
I am not and have never been a prepper, but a long-lost Green Beret buddy who I hadn’t seen since Afghanistan in 2003 was coming down from New York to attend the camp, and he had an extra ticket. An extra ticket free. Need I say more?
For me it would mean little more than throwing a sleeping bag and some grub into the truck and hopping east across the border to North Carolina.
Regardless that I was there to reconnect with an old friend, not for the prepping, being surrounded for three days by everything prepper I couldn’t help but somehow fall into the spirit. Starting with some of the prevailing lingo. Such as, SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan). And try this one on for size: TEOTWAWKI (pronounced teo-twa-waki, for The End Of The World As We Know It). Both are terms of the coming societal collapse for which true preppers prepare.
I heard a lot of “grid down”, which can be both cause and effect of the SHTF. As well as “just-in-time inventory”, which in a SHTF situation will collapse all goods (from food to fuel to everything!) in a matter of days, if not hours.
Not that I’m going to change my ways and become a prepper. I can imagine a random little localized disaster here and there (earthquake, flood, localized terrorist attack), with the grid going down for a couple of hours or days at the most. But, c’mon, a nationwide TEOTWAWKI?
Naw, I can’t think that way. In any case, in a dog-eat-dog end-of-the-world case, I’m willing to bet my survival on my good old G&A. (In Avallone lingo, guns & ammo.)
One thing that I could not help but be impressed by was the sheer volume and variety of prepper books found at the camp. In a number of cases the authors were a part of the event, offering multiple and varied seminars covering their passion and expertise. Take a look at the photos here—books after books after books.
Perhaps a good place to start, in particular, if you’re new to prepper awareness, is Johnny Jacks’ book Absolute Anarchy. With survival experience that goes all the way back to the jungles of Vietnam, Jacks lays everything out—the whys and hows of surviving a SHTF collapse—in an easy-to-read, easy-to-follow outline format. In addition, through the lessons in the book he links the reader to the internet for a wealth of further resources.
Jacks seems to leave no stone unturned, overlooking nothing, no matter how seemingly insignificant. For instance, in preparing one’s long-term food storage consider this: Though brown rice is more nutritional than white rice, its grains have an oil coating that causes the rice to deteriorate and become useless in a few years. White rice, on the other hand, with no oil coating, will last for years and years in storage.
See, gee, there’s always something that one doesn’t know.
Extremely popular for his books and lectures is Prepper Camp founder and organizer Rick Austin. He teaches from his Secret Survival books. He is perhaps the most recognized working-the-land prepper in this neck of the woods, and his books are documented evidence of what he’s done with his own hands. He starts from the premise that in a SHTF environment, as the hungry hordes flee the city wastelands, they’re going to head to where they think there’s food—namely, rural America. And you rural preppers had better hide from their hungry eyes your own resources. Austin’s belief in brief: Keep your means of survival a secret. His three books are pictured above, beginning with his Secret Garden of Survival.
Approaching prepping from an angle that had never before crossed my mind is Samuel Culper, who taught broad-ranging classes from his book SHTF Intelligence. A former Army intelligence analyst with multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as both military and civilian, Culper approaches prepper preparedness as one would a combat enemy in war. That is, foremost as an Intelligence challenge. His emphasis is heavy on Intelligence gathered before a SHTF collapse.
What’s more, Culper teaches that it’s not the big-picture global, national or statewide situation for which one should be concerned, but rather, a highly localized one. Know everything local—from friendly forces to enemy forces to terrain—as you would on a platoon- or company-level in combat, rather than being preoccupied with that which you have no control, which would be the larger battlefield or theater. For example, prepare yourself with local street maps, (in paper, not digital, because digital will be dead in a grid-down situation; there’ll be no GPS or Google Earth). And do not neglect to obtain paper geological survey maps for the areas you’ll be surviving in. Prepare yourself with details on local avenues of approach and retreat, as well as the local law enforcement, military and emergency services. Perhaps most importantly, gather Intelligence beforehand on any potential local threats—in particular, gangs, who’ll be the first to loot and maraud.
And then there’s every hardcore prepper’s hero William Forstchen, invited as this year’s Prepper Camp keynote speaker. A college professor with a PhD in History, Forstchen has taken the prepper community by storm with his post-EMP novels, beginning with his One Second After. That is, the second (and year) following an Electromagnetic Pulse nuclear bomb that is detonated twenty-five miles above Kansas—not radiation, but a massive dose of EMP—instantly sending the continental United States back two hundred years. You guessed it—a true TEOTWAWKI situation.
I hate to say it, but it’s every 2-year-stocked-up prepper’s dream. After all, their chances of survival in the estimated first-year 90%-die off that such an EMP will bring are much better than those of us lazy, unprepared, apathetic head-in-the-sanders.
It’s a novel, pure fiction, and in spite of its negligible literary merit (or complete lack thereof), Forstchen’s One Second After has great value if only because it is a clarion call to a complacent, head-in-the-sand American government which hasn’t even taken rudimentary steps to harden its grid against an EMP strike. Equally as pressing perhaps, if one considers an EMP nuke attack as a one-in-a-billion chance, a similar TEOTWAWKI catastrophe can come from EMP caused by an unforeseen and random extreme solar storm.
Enough with the depressing scenarios, what you really want to know is whether or not, ignoring the fact that I went to Prepper Camp solely to reconnect with an old military buddy, I’ve turned into a prepper.
I’ll admit to having found myself a bit intrigued by the seriousness in which preppers take their fear that a SHTF scenario will happen and the confidence they have in themselves that they can survive it. As well, I’ll admit to having had my curiosity aroused enough to read the above highlighted books.
So, you’re asking, am I now stocking my basement pantry with cases of beans, rice and Pop Tarts? Am I hoarding double-A and 9-volt batteries and buying 1950’s analog radios? Have I got a BOP (bug-out plan) and BOL (bug-out location) and BOB (bug-out bag), or, in the spirit of a beat-up ol’ Green Beret, am I sandbagging around my front and rear upstairs bedroom windows’ firing ports?
What do you think?
(Hint: Keep a close watch on your Pop Tarts.)