Monday, October 24, 2016 19:30 EDT (UTC -0400)
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I didn't start gearing up for a self-sufficient lifestyle until I was in my 50s. And as I wrapped my head around the idea of preparing for who knows what might happen, I was struck by the idea that I had been here before, decades earlier, when I was a Boy Scout.
In Scouting, we weren't preparing for disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, massive power outages, hyperinflation or peak oil. It never crossed our minds as 12-year-old boys that stores might run out of food or banks might shut down. And there was no internet, so the concept of someone hacking into the national power grid and bringing it down never occurred to anybody, children or adults.
We didn't regard Scouting as preparing for life in uncertain times, but by and large, that's what it was. Learning how to hunt and fish, finding your way with a map and compass, knowing how to stop serious bleeding, splint fractures, even revive a person who had stopped breathing or suffered a heart attack, improvising with limited resources in adverse situations — these were mainstays of Scouting.
But above all we knew how to survive under harsh conditions. Summer camp for our troop was a 20-mile hike into the high Uintas in northern Utah, where we would live for a week using only what we carried in our backpacks, and the skills we'd been taught.
We slept on the ground, bathed in an ice-cold lake, washed our clothes in a stream, cooked over a fire we started with a spark, trekked through wilderness relying on a map and compass. It usually rained. That didn't matter. On some overnighters it snowed unexpectedly. No big deal. Everyone was prepared.
Scouting was a way of life that pretty much guaranteed you knew how to take care of yourself in most every situation you might find yourself. You put together what you needed and you knew what to do when things got tough.
I didn't realize it at the time, but much later in life I would look back on Scouting as one of the most important things I did. It built character, ethics and confidence. It defined us as we grew from boys into men.
On these pages I'll talk about being prepared on a higher level than being hit by a snow storm on a camping trip. Here, we're talking about going without essential services such as municipal water and sanitation, police and fire protection and medical help, for days, even weeks or longer. What will you do for food and water? How will you cook without a kitchen stove or microwave, or stay warm without central heating? Can you take care of your own medical needs if there is no doctor or emergency room available?
These questions are important. We live in a time that any one of at least a dozen scenarios could leave us without services we've come to depend on — stores with food, faucets with running water, medical services and basic utilities for sanitation. We could find ourselves without a roof over our head.
It may be for a few hours. It could shut down and not come back on.
If you're the type of person who believes that some government agency will swoop in and take care of your every need, you're mistaken. After Hurricane Sandy, thousands of people stood in lines a half-mile long waiting for a sandwich. A sandwich! Or a bottle of water. And while some got that sandwich and water after waiting hours, many did not.
It's a simple concept: We take care of ourselves. It's not difficult. We learn what we need to know and put together the resources we're going to need. We plan for the worst and hope for the best. And though it can be tough living without the conveniences we're accustomed to, if it comes down to that, we're prepared for it.
This is my dad, Chris Ronnow (1915-1987).
He knew how to rough it.
Call it Scouting 2.0. It's challenging, but well worth it. And for some people who never get out of the city except to drive from one to the next — don't just put together some food and water and call yourselves prepared. Get out and hike, do some camping, sleep on the ground and cook over a fire. You might find yourself enjoying it.
Whatever else this state of mind is or isn't, it may well save your life and the lives of those you care about. It's a crazy world we live in. Best to have a plan and know what to do.
After all is said and done, if you're the kind of person who would rather go on not knowing what's the worst that can happen, I can live with that. I'm not your judge. But please, don't be aware of the potential for disaster and tell yourself you don't need to do anything because someone else will take care of it for you. Where I come from, we call that a burden on society.
Give it serious thought.
Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by. Browse the site, see what you think. If you like it, tell your friends; if you don't, keep it to yourself (just kidding). Peace, out.
If you're wondering what could possibly go wrong, head over here: Why Be Prepared? (Survival: Overview). And keep in mind, my intent is not to scare people, but rather to say, "These could be problems; be mindful. Be prepared."
Mirror Lake in the Unita Mountains, elevation 10,400 feet, was home for Boy Scouts in Troop 564, Summer Camp, 1963. Scoutmasters Dick Morris and Bob Johnson, both formerly Navy, taught me almost as much about roughing it as my dad did. They were both great guys, and I'm a better man for knowing them.
A note about the advertising on this site: Most of the items advertised I own or have had a chance to use and evaluate. While I am not an authority on all things 'Preparedness', I know quality when I see it, and recognize good writing and accurate information when I read it. I do not advertise merchandise that I would not personally recommend to a friend.
Also, if it seems like every product links to Amazon, it's because I have yet to find an item with a lower price than that found on Amazon — in some cases, as much as 50 percent less than the manufacturer's recommended retail price.
If you're not a fan of Amazon, I respect that. Use the link to see the product, read the reviews and get an idea of what it is you're buying. Then get it somewhere else. If that works for you, it works for me.