Friday, December 30, 2011

One more entry in the Safecastle Freedom Award

2011 Safecastle Freedom Awards -- a "New Media" Survivalist Contest

Here's another entry in the Safecastle Freedom Awards writing contest. We're trying to get them all posted by the end of tomorrow, then we'll submit the winner to the Safecastle folks. The rules for writing are posted here. The Safecastle website is here.

Just FYI, the contest prizes were modified due to poor economic conditions. You can see the modifications here.

But our prizes remain the same! To wit:

10 Rural Revolution laser-engraved tankards for the top 10 entries!

If you'd still like to send in your original essay or video on self-sufficiency, survivalism, or prepping -- there's still time!

Now to our next contestant...

Preparedness for Young People

“I’m fifteen years old and I’m worried about the future, but my parents don’t seem to notice how bad things are getting out there, and I can’t convince them.”

All over, young people are waking up to the precarious state of the world in which we live, yet are still living at home under their parents’ authority, and those parents do not agree that it’s important to be prepared. So I am writing this article to you, young people who want to prepare yourselves. What can you do to be prepared at this stage of your life?

I’ll start by telling you what preparedness means to me. Preparedness is being adaptable and resourceful, keeping oneself and those who are precious to one safe and happy.

I suggest to you that whatever your plans are, they should include your family. We need our families and they need us. So realistically speaking, your first option should not be to grab your bug-out bag and disappear, leaving your family behind to face whatever comes. Your family members can be your greatest assets, even though they may not look like it right now, and you can be theirs.

If you are hitting a brick wall when you talk with your parents about preparedness, it could be because they do not think “normal” people are prepared, that it’s only for weirdo extremists. If that’s the case, tell them the government wants them to be prepared! Show them the website It’s sponsored by the Federal government and explains why and how to prepare. It’s a nice, mainstream, non-weirdo-extremist source of information.

Take every opportunity to learn survival skills. Learn to light a fire, to pitch a tent, to hike through a valley without leaving any sign that you passed. Learn to break camp in silence. Learn archery. How do you find a teacher for skills like these if your parents are not interested? The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are wonderful programs for learning things that you can keep with you always, in your head. No scout troups in your area? Getting a little too old for that? - Get a Boy Scouts manual, it has the same instruction you’d get as an actual scout, though you’ll have to practice on your own. Then there are wonderful books out there to teach you more. Search “how to become an outdoorsman” on Google and you’ll find books, on-line courses, even college extension courses to teach you.

Make sure to involve your parents in this. They should know what you’re doing, and who you are doing it with. Set their minds at ease by being up front with them so that they don’t fear for your safety. It’s what we do, we parents; we fear for our kids’ safety. It’s hardwired into us. But if you tell us what’s going on and we don’t feel like you are sneaking around or tricking us, we feel much more at ease.

Once you have gained skills, see if your parents will allow you to teach them. Offer and see what they say. Your family’s financial resources are probably already committed somewhere, so try to suggest ideas that do not require a big outlay of funds, like a day spent hiking at a nearby park, with everybody carrying part of a picnic lunch, to start things off.

In the survivalist world, you will hear a lot about stockpiling food against future scarcity. It’s one of the easier ways to begin preparation and is where a lot of people start. But your funds are limited, and you do not have the right to insist that the family set aside a chunk of the family food budget OR the storage space in the home for food preps.

Here are some things you CAN do. First, change how you eat. If you are saying “This family really needs to eat more rice and beans because you can store them long term,” but you are consuming all the snack foods your parents can bring home, and you complain when nobody puts more soda pop in the fridge and you have to drink it warm, you are sending mixed messages. If you are asking for and eating fruits, vegetables, and, yes, rice and beans, then you are showing that you are willing to make changes.

Teaching people works much better if you show them how to do things and not just tell. So show that prep style food can taste good. Try making a meal of Spanish rice and refried beans. I’ll get you started: In a pan with a lid, mix 1 cup of rice, ½ cup of salsa and 1-1/2 cups of water. Put on the lid and turn on the heat to medium first, then down to low in a few minutes when the steam starts coming out. Meanwhile, in another pan, mix 2 cans of refried beans with a little bit of water and heat it up. Warm up some corn tortillas (or better yet, make some yourself, but that’s a lesson for another day). When the rice has cooked for about 10 minutes, take the lid off and give it a stir. If most of the liquid is gone, turn off the heat and put the lid back on for another 3 minutes or so. If there is still quite a bit of liquid, keep the heat on for another few minutes and check again. When it’s cooked, serve up the rice, beans and tortillas with some more salsa. This is a tasty, wholesome meal, and all of it can be made easily with foods that most preppers consider good storage foods. Next week, try another meal that you can make that’s delicious, healthy and prep friendly.

Once you have gained your family’s confidence, they may be more willing to allow you to make some choices on what food the family buys at the grocery. At that point, you can suggest buying larger quantities of foods to save money. Teach your parents to store the food properly (if it goes bad and is wasted, it was not a good deal in the first place).

Another area of preparation is your career. You have a lot of choice in what you do for a living as long as you keep your options wide open as a young person. There are not too many careers I can think of that will be completely useless after “the end of the world as we know it” - maybe politics! - but certainly some are going to be more needed than others. People will always need medical care, homes, food, and good water. They will always need to learn, and they will always need beauty to inspire them. Think in terms of what you can do that will improve other people’s lives as your career, and you will always be needed.

I’ll wrap this up with a five-part challenge for you. Each of these is a useful preparation tool. My challenge is for you to find:
  • One place you and your loved ones agree to meet if there is a crisis, in case your home is damaged or compromised
  • Two sources of clean water that do not depend on turning a tap
  • Three ways to start a fire using just what you have on your body at any time
  • Four kinds of food growing wild that you could obtain within an hour’s walking, gathering or hunting time
  • Five different routes to get home from your school or place of work
Sometimes the world looks like it could fall apart tomorrow. But chances are, it won’t; people have been thinking things can’t possibly get any worse for centuries, yet time continues on. In other words, be ready for the worst AND the best. You may be around to have a career and a home and a family. You may even be around to see your grandkids. So while you are thinking of how to be ready should the power grid fail, or for there to be no food available at the stores or for martial law to be declared or for pandemic or any other disaster you can imagine, keep doing what you need to do in case it holds off for a year or two or five or more. Learn all the skills you can, and practice them. Take the ACT or the SAT and apply for college. Get a summer job and save some money. Become an excellent driver. Be healthy. Exercise. Have fun. Keep yourself and your friends safe. Not one of these things will hurt you if society goes down the toilet - and each of them will help you if it doesn’t.

You will be 18 soon and then your choices will open up wider. Until then, do what you can within the bounds of what a young person can and should do within his or her family constraints. Learn. Your sharpest tool can be your mind.


  1. Keep your body fit and strong and use your mind to learn as many useful skills as possible. All this can be done with little or no money. Good advice for all of us, not just the young ones!

  2. So far this is my vote for best entry. I'm 31 and I felt like this was written for me too (I still often feel so young and inexperienced). I'm prepper-minded and as a wife and mother I am able to carefully add moderate amounts of food/supply prep into my budget, but my husband is not of the persuasion that it's a great idea. He is the head of this household, a Godly man and wonderful provider, so I am not about to butt heads with him constantly about prepping. I'd rather just lead by example and keep praying for the Holy Spirit to guide him in leading our family the way we should go. More effective in so many ways.

    This essay gave me plenty of ideas of things I can do and learn along with my kids that wont rock the boat and still be very useful. I'm frequently overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information, skills and tools I lack so it's nice to see a small to do list that feels manageable. I also appreciated the hopeful tone and organized writing. Well done!

  3. This one gets my vote. What wise words from a young person of 15. Wouldn't be nice if most adults thought so clearly?

  4. Dannie, sorry if the essay was misleading - I'm not 15, I'm a LOT older than that, but I was writing to young people. I keep seeing that sort of post popping up on the boards here and there.

    Thank you also, Swamp Dog and Anonymous. I appreciate your kind words, all of you.

  5. Maria, Sorry I scanned so fast I missed the transition but you still get my vote and I am still impressed with your message:>

  6. gotta vote here too...

  7. I also think this was a fantastic post. I so clearly remember the powerlessness of being a teenager, and this entry provides positive, goal-oriented and achievable methods to prep yourself and your family. Very well written, and so practical (which is the best part). This post has my vote for the Safecastle contest, not just here, but on all the blogs I read that have entries into the contest.

    ~ Sandy Taylor

  8. This gets my vote .. and I have learned a thing or two as well. Will send a link to my young adult kids too.

  9. This one gets my vote too.
    Down to earth realistic and not too theoretical at all.
    I know by experience youths grow when challenged and taken seriously.
    It ought to be taught and practised in every school and of course preferably also in the homes. Why not kill three birds with one stone; adolescents, parents and teachers.
    Make them undergo Maria Stahl's training program, I foresee great results.

  10. this gets my vote for best entry. Practical, informative, very readable. I think,even as a teenager (which was a loooooong time ago) this article would have motivated and instructed me. Good job, Maria!