SW Video/Essay Contest – Entries and Voting

Posted on: March 28, 2016

Okay folks, here we go. What follows are all of the entries submitted for the contest this year. Our panel of judges will be evaluating all of the entries throughout the week and the winners will be announced Monday, April 4th.

The assignment was this – Create an original video or write an original essay that illustrates and shares information about some aspect of prepping or self-reliance. That left it pretty wide open and the entries received reflect that. We have quite a wide range of topics addressed in the entries below.

Who are the judges?

John McCann – well known and highly respected survival and preparedness instructor and author, as well as owner of Survival Resources.

Rich Beresford III – head honcho over at Around the Cabin, pioneers and innovators of live streaming video used in teaching self-reliance.

Gaye Levy – preparedness authority and blogger at BackdoorSurvival.com.

Craig Caudill – Director of Nature Reliance School and all around great guy.

Charley Hogwood – Owner of P.R.E.P., and author of The Survival Group Handbook.

Scott Finazzo – Author of The Neighborhood Emergency Response Handbook and The Prepper’s Workbook. See his website here.

and myself, of course.

Now, here’s where you come in. See, the judges are going to choose one winning essay AND one winning video. In addition, we’re allowing you folks to vote for your own favorite entry. Comment below with your absolute favorite contest entry. Choose wisely as you only get one vote. The entry with the most votes will win the Fan Favorite prize package (all prizes are listed below).

Why take the time to vote? Well, we’re going to choose one voter at random and he or she will receive a handful of DVDs from the Make Ready to Survive series by Panteao Productions! Be sure you use an accurate email address when you vote so we can reach you if you win. We will not be using your email address for any other reason. Rest assured, we won’t be spamming you with anything.

Fan Favorite votes will be collected through Friday, April 1st.

One vote per household, please. Duplicate votes will not be counted and you will be disqualified from winning the DVD package. Remember, you’re only voting for ONE entry, either a video or an essay, not both.

Good luck!

Here are the prizes up for grabs:

Video Prize Pack:
Baofeng UV-5R radio
Copy of Prepper’s Communication Handbook
Small selection of DVDs from the Make Ready to Survive series
A UV Marker and UV pen light for leaving your own secret messages.

Essay Prize Pack:
Baofeng UV-5R radio
Copy of Prepper’s Communication Handbook
Copy of The Survival Group Handbook
A UV Marker and UV pen light for leaving your own secret messages.

Fan Favorite Prize Pack:
One copy each of:
The Journal (combined edition of first three books) by Deborah D. Moore
Prepper’s Communication Handbook
Prepper’s Financial Guide
Prepper’s Survival Hacks

Without further ado, here are the contest entries.

Video #1

Video #2

Video #3

Video #4

Video #5

Essay #1 – Untitled

I gotta be honest. I think the zombies were on to something. Take any zombie flick or tv show you’ve seen. Half rotten and decaying carcasses sloughing around mindlessly in search of what? You don’t seem them clambering around for ‘arms’ or ‘legs’ or even ‘rriiiibbbsssss’.

What’s the one thing they long for?


The most useful tool in any survivalist, prepper, or self-reliant human being’s arsenal is your own mind. Sure, high-zoot whiz-bang tools are great to have and look cool hanging off of your belt, but do you really know how to use every item on that? Specialized first aid kits are great for prepper use, but if you don’t know how to use a tourniquet then those items are useless. First aid is one of the few skills that could cause more harm than good if you do not know what you are doing. I’m not saying take a 7 year doctoral program in emergency medicine, but there are several cheap and even free (yes, that word still exists) opportunities for you to expand your own basic first aid knowledge. FEMA online courses, Volunteer fire houses, Community C.E.R.T. programs all can teach you a little more information regarding life-saving skills, basic search and rescue, and even fire suppression. ‘Cause when the zombies come knocking, well… no one else will.

Face it folks, in order to be truly self-reliant you need to train yourself. Stimulate your mind. Fill it with important useful information, not more malted hops and bong resin. Hear me out. No amount of gear is going to help you unless you know how to use it. Nowadays there is no substitute for actually getting out and learning how to do something. I mean it is extremely helpful to have YOUTUBE, or blog sites dedicated to prepping, but unless you physically put your hands on some 550 cord and make a shelter, your website doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in a survival situation.

Mmmm. Beans.

Which brings me to food. Grow your own. Becoming more popular across America is the farm-to-table movement. Which, by the way, can happen in your own backyard. There are an innumerable number of companies that cater to container gardening. I know, I know, you live in an apartment or condo or somewhere that doesn’t have a porch/ patio/ gardening area. Not an excuse. A 5 gallon bucket, some dirt and seeds (water and sunlight help also), are all you need. Truly, plant some tomatoes in mid-June and you’ll have dozens all summer. You actually gotten off the web also! Now go use that thing that your rest your hat on! (I mean your head.) Get dirty! Sit down and make a plan of what vegetables you want to plant next. Make a meal from your own backyard.

So in the last 500 or so words, we’ve discussed first aid, survival prep, and container gardening. “But, but, but, how am I going to protect myself when ______ occurs and they come knocking at my door?” Ah yes. Well if you are considering hand-to-hand combat, why not take a martial arts course? Most martial arts studios offer at least an introductory class for free. If that style doesn’t meet your needs, move on. What’s the worst that has happened? You used 3 hours of your life to get a general introduction into another survival skill? I can almost see your brain increasing in size from here. (Which doesn’t really happen unless you get a viral infection and then encephalitis sets in… see: FIRST AID paragraph). But anyway.

Don’t feel like tugging on another person’s clothing and grappling to the ground? Take a firearms course. With the Second Amendment being a front and center issue in not only politics but around the water cooler, learning how to use a firearm properly could save your life in a dire situation. Many states have very restrictive laws regarding the ownership of a firearm, but do not have such laws regarding learning about how to use a firearm. Levels of courses around the United States ranging from “Keeping your booger hook off the bang button” to weekend long ballistics course learning how to stretch your rifle out to a thousand yard shot.

So here’s the deal. The only reason you are not prepared is your own fault. Stop buy the newest ‘survival tool’ and make the best of what you’ve got. Your own brain. The zombies will thank you.

Essay #2 – How to clean a chicken or upland game bird

Kill the chicken or get someone else to do it. Once it is dead, hold it by its feet and swish it around in a bucket of hot water to loosen the feathers. Immediately start plucking the feathers, pulling them against the pattern of growth. They should come out easily. IF you are planning on using the feathers for stuffing pillows, you need to pluck them dry without scalding the bird and this is much harder but gives you nice feathers for your pillows.

Once the bird is free of feathers, singe the hairs off. You can do this many different ways. I usually use a rolled piece of paper or birch bark and do it fast enough not to singe myself while I’m at it.

Remove the feet between the joint at the start of the drumstick and the start of the scales that cover the lower leg and feet on most breeds of chicken or other bird. At the neck, cut the skin and remove the crop which may be full of seeds, gravel and other bird delicacies. Place the bird on its back and carefully slice the skin between the breast bone and the tail, being careful not to cut across the vent, but around it, to remove it with the entrails. You can wear rubber gloves to do all of this if you are squeamish about stuffing your hand up a birds behind. Carefully pull out the entrails and possible egg sacs. Reaching farther up, remove the heart, liver, gizzard and lungs. Save whichever parts any of you will eat. They are good and contain a lot of nutrients. Cleaning the gizzard is a delicate job, cut through the large muscle piece on one side between the openings but not through the sac inside that contains the digesting contents. Carefully roll it away from the walls of the gizzard and discard.

Turn the bird over and on the back near the base of the tail is a bump that is the oil sac for preening the feathers. Cut far enough away from it to remove it without getting any on the meat. It works well for feathers, not so much for flavoring meat.

Rinse the bird well, it should now be a cleaned bird, ready for cooking or canning. That is, if the head was removed as a means of killing the bird. If not, cut it off at any time during the cleaning process.

If you want to cook it whole, now is the time. Other than that, go ahead and cut it into pieces as for frying. Pull the legs away from the body and cut the skin and any tissue between the thigh and the body, aiming for the hip joint and removing each leg this way. Straighten the leg and press it down as though you were going to bend the joint the wrong way and cut through the dimple in the joint to make a drumstick and a thigh piece.

Pull the wing back and cut it from the body at the joint, repeat on the other side. Cut the breast away from the back, cutting along the ribs where they join the breastbone. The breast meat can be cut from the bone or left on the bone on one side, cutting it in half after cutting a chunk off the front to separate the wishbone, making the breast into 3 nice pieces.

Cut the back piece in half. Bend the ribs back toward the outside of the backbone and slide your knife blade along the rib bones to remove them. Cut the neck off the rib section, also. Now you should have 12 pieces of chicken if you count the neck piece. This makes a nice fried chicken dinner for a small family or the chicken can be deboned and cut into smaller pieces to feed a larger group, whether fried or made into another chicken dish such as chicken stew.

Essay #3 – Untitled

When it comes to being a prepper, I can’t even call myself a beginner and keep a straight face. Honestly, if TSHTF right now I would be in deep trouble. What I CAN say, however, is that I am in better shape than I used to be, and I am far more aware of the fact that in this day and time, we NEED to be prepared. I have learned that it is really easy to become distracted by the shiny trinkets of prepping, such as this knife or that multi-tool, this fire starter kit, or that bag. I must admit that until just recently, those are the only things I had thought of. I can say, “Yeah, I got this ESEE 4 on my hip and this Leatherman Wave in my pocket”, but if it came down to it , would I really know what to do with them? I have to say “NO”. I hereby throw myself onto the sacrificial alter of what NOT to do. Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you what I have done to change this situation.

I am a Type 2 diabetic. That’s not as bad as being a Type 1 but it is definitely not something to play around with. If all goes wrong, what would I do to treat my condition? The only answer I have been able to come up with is to begin to learn alternative ways to treat it. I am no doctor and cannot offer any type of medical advice. This is something that has to be one’s personal quest for knowledge, but it is good to have a Plan B, if for no other reason than peace of mind. The less stress on the mind, the better our chances of coming through an ordeal, and at the end of the day, our health should be top priority.

The second thing I have done to try to change my situation is to think about my food situation. I try to make sure that I have a two weeks supply in the pantry at all times. I buy the things I like, and I try to follow the wise old saying, “Eat what you store, store what you eat, and ROTATE, ROTATE, ROTATE.” This is one that we have all heard and to hear it, it sounds rather generic, but it is good solid advice and it has helped me tremendously. It certainly simplifies things.

Lastly, there is my meager bag of trinkets. I have a simple mini A.L.I.C.E. pack that I use as my bug-out bag. In this bag is a personal trauma kit, a small flashlight, a tube tent, a good knife, a pill organizer with my medication in it. I might add that I treat the medication just like I do the food. I rotate it. There is a fire starting kit in there, some water purification tablets, an emergency blanket, and a S.O.L Survival Kit. That sums up, my preps so far, but I am constantly learning. I can only hope that in a few words and a humble confession that I have given you, the reader, a little food for thought.

Essay #4 – How My Family Preps on a Budget

Being prepared is important for my family and I. We have a large family, 6 people in the house, so a monthly budget is important for our survival. I am a soldier in The National Guard and my husband is a Supervisor in a chemical plant. We make a good living and live on a 14 acre farm in West-Central Kentucky. We make and stick to a monthly budget for food, bills, car payments, mortgage, etc. Most times it is hard to have spare money to spend on things we might need some time in the future. But we have set a plan and we stick to it as best we can. To date we have built a storage supply of non-perishable food to last us about 9 months. It has taken some time but we add to it every shopping trip. I hope our methods can assist in setting up a system for your own preps.

When we put together a grocery list, we make a menu for 2 weeks, our pay cycle. We roughly calculate an amount to spend and then add an additional $20-$100 to the total. The additional money is based on other things we need to accomplish that pay cycle. We then plan out our addition storage food purchases. We purchase bulk rice and beans, flour, sugar, salt, and lots of mix packets like gravy or sloppy joe mix. All of these additional purchases are vacuum sealed and placed in our survival cache. We package these items into usable portions, 2 pounds of rice and 1 pound of beans packed with gravy mix. This will feed everyone for a day. We package flour with yeast packages and everything needed for bread. We shop around for the best deal for all our food purchases, and usually fist 2-3 stores to finish our shopping. We avoid impulse purchases and stick to our list as much as possible. This helps us stay on budget and allows us to put some food back every 2 weeks. We inventory and rotate our stores as needed and use the food that is close to expiring. We replace that food and keep a rotation going.

We grow a decent sized garden each year. We utilize raised beds and vertical gardening to maximize space and to keep the work to a minimal level. We see very good yields from this method and eat a lot of fresh veggie all summer long. We all get into canning also, we get the kids involved and make a fun time of it. All of the extras get canned for use throughout the winter. We use a pressure canner so that we can preserve just about anything. We can full meals and side dishes as well. This gives us a nice rotation for our food usage. We avoid processed foods and eat as healthy as possible. We find recipes online to make some things that are normally bought as processed, like chicken nuggets, fish sticks, etc. Each year we have a surplus of canned foods and they are integrated into our storage foods and rotated as needed.

We also purchased a dehydrator for use in prepping. We dry vegetables and meats for storage as soup bases. We use pint mason jars filled with dry meat and veggies and a couple bouillon cubes. This is the perfect amount to mix with 1 gallon of boiling water for a nice soup. We also use the dehydrator to make fruit leather from fresh fruits and berries. The kids love it and it is a healthy snack for them. The fruit leather keeps well also, just vacuum seal it and it last for months, if you can keep the kids from eating it all that is. We also make jerky that tastes awesome. We are a family of hunters and make a lot of jerky each fall after deer season. When vacuum sealed, it lasts for over a year.

With these simple inexpensive systems we have been able to build a nice supply for food for any emergency that might arise. Be it a severe storm, a flood, or TEOTWAWKI, we have what we need to survive. These ideas are not the only way to do it, but it is what works best for us. I hope this gets you thinking, and DOING!

Essay #5 – Growing Garlic

So this spring at the new house I’ve been busy planting, most springs I plant garlic in spring and fall. Garlic is one of the easiest herbs(?) to plant. Literally dig a hole and put the clove in and forget about it. I’ve been planting the stuff for at least ten years, since I was given a couple of pods of “wild” garlic. I think that it actually came from an old home place and just kept making pods every year. I don’t think it is ramps or any other truly wild bulb.

But after a face book posting about spending the first warmish and dryish day of spring planting about a hundred cloves I was hit with a lot questions. So I’ll go through them Where did I get my cloves? Most were gifts from various people, and they have came from around the country.

Another question was, is any other part edible, a quick goggle search produced the following paragraph. “Hardneck garlic produces long, curled stems, called “scapes,” in early to midsummer, following a fall planting. Snip off the scapes as soon as they appear, but don’t harvest the garlic bulbs yet. Unlike onions, the flowering garlic bulbs will continue to grow after the scapes have been removed, putting all of their energy into making the bulb. A tasty bonus: You can use scapes from flowering garlic — which have a pleasantly mild garlicky flavor — in soups, salads, stir-fries or pestos. Harvest garlic bulbs when the lower five leaves of the plant have turned brown.”

Garlic is broken down into two categories, hard neck and soft neck, and many sub categories, like elephant garlic! Honestly I do not know the difference between hard and soft neck varieties, unless storage is the primary factor. I planted what I obtained in gifts or trade and have been happy with what I have.

Will store bought cloves grow? Now this needs a bit of clarification, yes store bought cloves will grow and make pods. But seed cloves are sold in stores also. We’ll cover both. When I’m in any grocery store I first go through the produce section, I’ll look at the boxes of garlic to see if any has little green sprouts. Those I buy and plant, well at least the ones showing green, the others if not used soon I’ll wrap in damp paper towels and store in the fridge for a few days to see if they will also sprout. If so out those go to the garden, if not cooking time. Since I almost have always lived in more rural areas the stores also have seed cloves for planting. With those I look for green shoots

I have preferred to have raised beds. In spring, When I plant my cloves I just barely cover then with dirt. Then for weed control I’ll go back and thinly sow radish seeds and moderately sow salad greens. The weeds don’t have much chance to take root and the extras are harvested before the pods are ready to dig.

In fall when I plant garlic, I do pretty much the same thing, only I use turnip seed and winter wheat, rye, and barley. There are other companion planting choices, no one is limited to these few.

Onions, shallots, and chives being close cousins are treated the same way. The flowers of all of them are quite Ornamental, even striking!

Even if you are in a no gardening zone, the allium family will let you have your own “guerrilla” plantings. The greens planted for weed control can be worked into your gardening plan as ground covers.

In the pics you see that I use tires for the raised beds, there folks that text and email each year detracting the use of old tires. Some people believe that planting in tires is hazardous due to possible chemical / heavy metal contamination. I have not found yet an unbiased study to agree or disagree with their beliefs. For generations people have been using old tires repurposed into planters. But planter choices are up to the individual. It’s a good use for them, they are repurposed.

Garlic has so many virtues in cooking and medicines that an encyclopedia could be filled. I’m not going into that. My favorite uses are for vinegar’s and oils, just cut your cloves and drop in a container cover with oil or vinegar let sit for a while and you have a culinary experience waiting for you.

And you get to repel vampires and other obnoxious entities and people.


Based on the title, I’m not suggesting boasting on your E-Harmony account that you have 3 lbs. of junk silver, 2000 rounds of .22 ammo, 97 cases of MREs and 2 Berkey water filters. What I am saying is prepping should be viewed as a couples activity if you’re in a relationship. My wife and I feel it not only is an activity that brings us together but makes us better preppers.

Humans obviously don’t all share the same interests nor do we all have the same talents. By each person learning skills they are interested in they become the “experts” in that field. An example of this is my wife enjoying all aspects of gardening from starting the seedlings under grow lights in early spring (officer, those really are tomato plants) to canning in fall. Me, I could kill an artificial Christmas tree, but I’ve had extensive training in fire arms and have competed in shotgun sports, indoor small bore pistol, and 600 meter rifle. My wife and I will conduct classes for each other sharing our knowledge with each other. Doing this even a few times really helps the communication lines in the relationship.

Another prepping activity that should be done together is shopping. Often time’s one person is what I call “The Accountant”; the one who controls the purse strings. The other person is much more spendy (that reminds me I need to take the credit card out of my wallet before my wife catches me with it). By doing it together you both know what you have, can talk about what you need, and make plans on how and when to get it.

A final activity that we do together is wilderness camping. We do this to try survival skills and get familiar with gear we have acquired. Wilderness camping is our favorite way to get away from all the hustle and bustle of modern life. There are endless survival skills that can be tried out over a weekend of camping. It doesn’t even have to be in the middle of nowhere. You can just as easily test your fire making skills in the middle of Jellystone Campground outside your 30 foot travel trailer as the youngsters are playing video games inside; although that would be a travesty on more than one level.

Not every couple will have two people who both enjoy this lifestyle. One of them may even see prepping as unnecessary and a waste of money. If that is the case … Heck, I’m not Dr. Phil. Don’t know what to tell you. For my wife and I it has been a great way to strengthen our marriage.

Essay #7 – Creating a self-sufficient homestead

A self-sufficient homestead can be a critical asset to you and your family in a SHFT situation. There are many different aspects and components that are involved in having a self-sufficient homestead. You have to insure that your homestead can created all the aspects of food and supplies that you would need to provide for yourself and your family. You will need to provide all meat, dairy, wheat, vegetables, supplies and knowledge to provide for your family and your farm.

Providing the meat for your homestead might seem easy: you just need a couple pigs, a chicken or two, and maybe a cow or goat. Though you will need these kinds of animals, you will also need your farm to provide the grain, hay and supplementations to keep your animals alive and healthy. This will require a larger property to grow and cut hay from, and also for growing a plot of corn. Also, you will need knowledge of the animals you have in order to keep them healthy and cared for properly.

Dairy plays hand and hand with meat. You will have to have a cow or goat to provide milk and other dairy products. The decision whether to get cows or goats is a hard one; cows produce more milk but are hard to care for and eat a lot more than a goat, whereas a goat eats a lot less but it would require at least 4 milking goats to provide all the dairy products needed for an average family. Your dairy animal will eventually become a part of the meat that your family eats. You also have to have the knowledge of all the different processes to make cheese, butter, and any other dairy products you wish to have.

Your wheat and vegetables are extremely important, because unless you are going to just live off of meat and cheese, you will want to have a garden and definitely a wheat plot. Your garden can be very family specific: plant what you eat. Your wheat plot needs to be quite large. The average american person eats one acre of wheat products a year. With your wheat and vegetable products, you must know how to preserve the products you grow or you will not have any vegetables in the winter months.

You will also need products to heat your home and preserve your food. You may be able to heat your home and preserve your food with the current conveniences of electricity and fuels, but if there is none available you will need to be prepared. You have to be able to have access to cuttable woold to make firewood for a wood-burning stove to heat your home. You will also need the knowledge of how to preserve food without using electrical appliances.

Most importantly, you will have to have the supplies to take care of these things you need. You have to have all the resources to care of your land, garden and livestock. You have to have a means of fixing these supplies if they break, and making new supplies you may someday need to survive. If you have the know-how for most of these different aspects or the willingness to learn them, you can make your homestead self-sufficient. The key is to look into the deeper aspect of it; you will not just need some firewood, you will need the means of getting more. Being self- sufficient isn’t for one day, and having a self-sufficient homestead could potentially save you and your family in a SHTF situation.

Essay #8 – Vegetarian Prepping-Beyond Rice and Beans

I will first start this essay by saying I am not a nutritionist. I am, however, a vegetarian, and have been one for over 28 years. I tend to eat mostly vegan at this point, no dairy or eggs, so I will not be talking about dairy or eggs in this essay. I am not gluten sensitive, so I will not be talking about gluten free options exclusively, though some are gluten free.

Prepping while vegetarian seems limiting at first. Rice and beans, beans and rice. It doesn’t have to be that way! In this essay I’ll talk about a few alternatives, and some other things you can stock up on now, that will make your pantry fun to fall back on.

One of my favorite proteins is seitan. It is incredibly easy to make yourself, adds a great texture to any meal, and is very versatile. The main ingredient is vital what gluten flour. You can buy this in bulk at any health food store, or through a buying club. I have also found it in regular grocery stores, with the Bob’s Red Mill products.

Vital wheat gluten stores well, though, like whole wheat flour, it needs to be stored properly to last. A pound makes a lot of seitan, enough for many meals. Most recipes I follow use only a few cups at a time and I have enough for several meals. Vital wheat gluten is the protein part of wheat flour, and it is a great protein supplement. With the right herbs and seasonings, you can change the flavor of it nicely.

There are several good cookbooks and recipes online to teach you how to make seitan in all its forms. I really recommend the Vegan Dad blog; he is a master of seitan! Seitan can be made with just whole wheat flour as well, the process is somewhat longer and more labor intensive, but it can be done! So if you store whole wheat and grind your own, this is a great option.

Another great product that stores well, is inexpensive, and is very versatile is Besan, or chickpea flour. You can make your own easily, it’s just ground chickpeas. Chickpeas store incredibly well, like any bean, and you can do so much with them. Besan is available in Indian markets, and is very inexpensive. Store it like any other flour, and it should last you quite some time. This is gluten free flour, so it is useful for people with gluten allergies.

A book I recommend for getting started with this protein source is The Chickpea Flour Cookbook: Healthy Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Recipes to Power Every Meal of the Day by Camilla V. Saulsbury. Chickpea flour is used often in Indian cooking, but there are a host of other things that can be done with it. It makes a fantastic, and protein packed, noodle. Chickpea pasta is just as easy as easy as fresh pasta to make, and has a bunch more protein and vitamins. Pretty much anything made with besan has a nice nutty flavor too.

There are several companies that sell vegetarian foods that are canned. Worthington Foods is the one that comes to mind first. They started in the 70s, and for a long while were the only kind of meat substitute you could find. They’re still available, and have a great shelf life. Some are tastier than others, though I guess if I were hungry enough, I’d be OK with just about anything they make.

It is a great idea to look at other cultures as well, when planning a vegetarian pantry. Just about every culture has some great vegetarian proteins and recipes, and if you familiarize yourself with those types of recipes and cooking styles you will be amazed at what there is to offer. Simple things like masa harina and refried beans and vegetables can make some wonderful Mexican food! Making your own tortillas is inexpensive, easy, and pantry friendly, as masa harina stores well. Indian recipes are often vegetarian, and it is amazing how inexpensive their different proteins are. You don’t have to just stick with storing kidney beans and lentils. Familiarize yourself with the array of dried beans and proteins used around the world, and your pantry just got a whole lot more exciting!

So, when you think of prepping your pantry for a vegetarian diet, don’t get mired in the beans and rice trap. Explore now, while you have time to learn new techniques. Explore some different markets and see what you can come up with. I bet you will be surprised, and be looking at your food stores a whole new way!

Essay #9 – Untitled

You probably have life, auto, and homeowner or rental insurance – maybe riders for flood or earthquake. But what about economic collapse, power grid failure or pandemic? We believe that the best insurance is educating yourself and maintaining a quality of readiness in life for any crisis, large or small.

Stocking water, food, the means to communicate, to keep warm and keep safe are a lot like making a will, rotating your vehicle tires or changing the batteries in your smoke detectors. At the time, you don’t think much about it – but if a particular situation arises, you and your loved ones will be glad you did.

Some view preppers as wild-eyed, paranoid crazies. There are a few out there, but the reality is that we’re regular people, many with families. We just don’t want to be refugees in a disaster, dependent upon help that may or may not show up.

What this group IS about: helping each other by sharing knowledge and information, and forming relationships and alliances. Our focus is prepping in urban and suburban environments more so than wilderness survival.

What this group IS NOT about: sedition, militias, conspiracy theories, racial identity, religious prophecies, political agendas, or promotion of any provocative group or culture. We’re all human beings here. No one is going to tell you what to believe or not believe, but let’s keep the conversation on preparedness.

We deal only with realistic SHTF/WROL scenarios, not zombie apocalypse nonsense. Also, firearms and other weapons are a part of the discussion.

Some of us are new to prepping, and others have been doing so for years. Wherever you are in your journey, you’ll find a friendly community here.

Essay #10 – Kids and Preparedness

I am 16 years old and live in a home where prepping and survival is discussed way more times than I care for. I understand that my parents want to protect me but it all seems a bit much at times. As a kid, I want to go and hang out with my friends, watch TV and do things that are fun. I don’t want to sit and talk about preparedness and suvival. I’m not even sure that I really understand “Situational Awareness” or “Loss of Civility” but I hear words like these all the time.

We talk about severe weather and all sorts of other things that may interrupt our lives. Dad is always talking about manmade and natural disasters and how we can prepare to survive them. He taught me what I need for emergencies and survival, how to pack a bug out bag and we discuss different places to meet in case we are not together and something tragic happens.

When Dad asked me if I was going to participate in this contest I said, “No!”. I didn’t want to and didn’t think I had anything to offer anyhow. I could tell he was bummed but I just didn’t want to.

A couple of days later the whole survival topic came up again and it occurred to me that I do have something to offer. I have my aspect as a kid; I have my experiences of being a part of a family that prepares for disasters. It is boring most of the time but other times it is interesting. Maybe even fun sometimes.

So, I sat down and began writing. It was much harder than I thought it would be and started to feel like a homework assignment. The harder I tried the more I realized I had made a big mistake! I didn’t want to do it anymore but my parents have always taught me to never give up just because something is difficult, so I continued on. I realized that there are lots of things that I know how to do that will help take some of the stress off of my parents if something bad happens.

If we stay at home during an emergency (Bug-in, as Dad says) just knowing where things are stored is helpful. If we have to leave (Bug-out) then knowing how to catch fish with Dad helps put more food on our plates. Knowing how to start a fire helps keep us warm and helps Mom heat water for cooking and washing dishes. In emergencies, I can actually be helpful and not just look to my parents to save me!

I continued to think and realized that none of my friends know anything about prepping or survival. Most of my friends are too concerned with cellphones, music, videos, playing games and doing other things. I don’t discuss prepping or survival with my friends because it’s sort of weird. I am embarrassed to talk about it with my friends because they wouldn’t understand, they don’t care anyway and would just make fun of me and my family! Maybe their parents don’t know how to survive or care to teach them about Emergency Preparedness.

At school, we have fire drills and they give us pamphelts about Hurricane and Disaster Readiness but most of the papers wind up in the trash, on the floors or flying around the student parking lot. No one reads the information because no one cares! I guess they just all think that there will always be someone there to protect and save them.
So, as much as I hate being interrupted from doing what I want to do to participate in Dad’s “Preparedness Discussions”, I can see where I have been taught how to help and even take care of my family and myself in an emergency.

I have at least some skills that can help us survive. I can’t believe I am saying this but kids need to listen and learn more about preparedness and survival if their parents are trying to teach them. We may be in a situation someday where we act and save ourselves or sit and wait for someone else to come and save us. Dad says the latter isn’t an option because there may be no one to come to save us!

I think I understand now.

Essay #11 – A Plan for Comprehensive Preparedness

Prepping can be a daunting task. You know you need food, water, shelter, bugout bags, medical supplies, cleaning supplies, pet food, and a million other things. But how can you do that with a limited budget? And where do you even begin? The purpose of this article is to answer these questions and provide you some basic strategies to utilize in developing your overall preparedness strategy.

I encourage people to complete the following with their families or preparedness groups:

1. Answer the question “What are we preparing for, and how long an event is this?” This will help you define an achievable goal, so you are not just establishing a stockpile with no end in sight. Different emergencies required different levels of preparedness.

2. Decide what you and your family need to ride through the event. Here are some broad categories to think about. This is not meant to be an all inclusive list, and you may not need all of the items or may not need particularly large quantities of these items. Use this list to determine what your specific needs are. Don’t forget to take stock of what you already have.

*Skills — first aid, CPR, gardening, plumbing, electrical and carpentry, automotive repair, herbal medicine. It has been said that the more skills you have, the less “stuff” you will need.
*Water and/or water filtration/purification
*Medical supplies, including personal medications
*Flashlights, lanterns and other emergency lighting
*Shelter — Camper, tent, tarp, a trusted neighbor or relative’s house, motel
*Batteries and or rechargeable batteries with a charger
*A generator and fuel
*Toilet paper
*Communications — radios, phones, cell phones, shortwave, CB and HAM radios
*A written list of phone numbers, legal documents, medical records, insurance papers, house deed
*Pet food and medications, shot records
*Hygiene supplies — soap, shampoo, wet wipes, toothpaste and toothbrush, etc.
*Cleaning supplies — detergent, bleach, cleaners, disinfectant
*Self-sufficiency items — seeds, livestock, land
*Repair items — fluids for your car, basic tools, duct tape, plywood, screws and nails
*Defense — knife, pepper spray, firearm, ammunition
*Cash to buy food, gas, etc.

3. Set a budget. Even $10 or $20 per week will go a long way toward helping you have what you need.

4. Start small, and grow steadily. I usually follow the guidance of FEMA and recommend starting with a 3-day supply of necessities. You can always add more down the road or as soon as you have the money. Once you are ready, work up to a couple weeks, a few months, a year, or even longer, depending on your needs.

5. Prioritize your large purchases. You don’t need to have everything all at once because you won’t use it all at once! Get the things you will most likely need first.

6. Be a smart shopper. Use store loyalty cards, coupons, sales, and other strategies to help build your stockpile cost effectively. Just buy a few extra cans of vegetables or a few small items when you go to the store each week. Don’t forget about discount stores, yard sales, farmer’s markets, online sales, and other nontraditional vendors. Community health fairs can even be a good source of free small preparedness items such as string backpacks, Band-Aids, pens, and coupons.

7. Reuse and recycle. Not only can recycling metals help you get a few extra bucks to build your preps, you can also reuse various items. A gatorade bottle makes a good canteen, a metal can makes an improvised stove or pot, cotton balls covered in Vaseline make good tinder, etc. There is virtually no limit to what you can reuse and repurpose if you put your mind to it!

8. Never forget that your most important preparedness item is YOU! Take care of yourself physically, mentally, spiritually. It saves money and stress in the long run to take care of those longstanding medical/dental issues and chronic health problems. It is also crucial for your survival to have hope, and be strong enough emotionally to deal not only with the crisis at hand, but be able to help your family and group, as well.

By taking the time to “prepare to prepare”, you can maximize your effectiveness, lower your stress, avoid impulsive purchases, get more for your money, and get the supplies you really need. Preparedness is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the ride.

59 thoughts on “SW Video/Essay Contest – Entries and Voting

  1. I really like essay #8. There are a lot of people, preppers even, that arent hunters. When society breaks down, we need to be able to provide protein for ourselves, even if meat is scarce, or unavailable. This is an important part of diet. Knowing ways to keep our sstrength even in rough times, when the luxuries arent available will give us better chances of surviving. Thus i vote for #8 as being a vital part of being ready!

  2. I would first like to say that picking a winner here is difficult. Simply put, everyone did a good job of explaining their perspective. However there were two that stand out to me. Here is why:

    Survival, prepping, self-reliance skills used in a real world situation will ultimately involve the participation of other people. If that is your family then you must involve them in training process. If you do not have family you must include how you will interact with others. The lone wolf mentality is one that only a very few number of people in this country can accomplish. We do not know who those people are because at this moment, right now, they are already off-grid doing it.

    Bravo to everyone who put themselves out there on this. None of these were poorly done, everyone did their best. To pick only one of each was hard. Many thanks to Jim for asking my assistance in helping with this.

  3. Essay 10 is a great piece on the perspective of how good parenting and the right approach can actually influence how our kids see prepping. In this essay the teenager demonstrates what we’ve all seen on the surface as disconnected and uninterested but in reality he or she has come to internalize it and that is key to accepting any new idea.
    To the parents out there, the key is to present info in an attractive and non-threatening way and to include the kids as much as possible without ramming the ideas down their throat.

    Kudos to the teen for embracing something as challenging as writing a personal article on a challenging topic and to the parents for finding a way to influence in a positive way.

    Great article!

    Charley Hogwood

  4. Essay 6 was talked about couples working together in prepping and I always encourage that strongly. Your family is your primary survival group, your core group. Too often we see couples that have dissimilar views on how to prep or even whether they should do it at all.
    There many advantages to prepping as a family such as bonding, educating, building something together and raising our next generation of strong, confident children. My best advice is to keep it realistic, prepare from an all-hazards approach and keep prepping as a hobby that supports your primary goals of a quality life, don’t let it control you it should be fun, not a miserable chore.
    Great topic and approach by this writer, keep up the great work!
    Charley Hogwood

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