You often hear preppers bemoan how hard it can be to hone your skills since the standard 9-5 job and evening with the family isn’t exactly living rough for most people. However, as summer has set in the camping season has kicked off in earnest and the prime opportunity for improvement has arrived along with it. Even if you plan on surviving most disasters in a well-stocked retreat, just learning to live without constant access to electricity and in close proximity to each other for a weekend is a great experience. Additionally, it’s just plain fun and adds an element to your preparations that even the uninterested members of the family can participate in.
What kind of trip?
Obviously how long you will be gone and how “rough” you want the trip to be is dependent on who is going. Certainly great-grandma isn’t going to be rock climbing up to a beautiful perch for your evening campsite! Regardless of how long you can be gone, even if it is just one day, you’ll be gaining valuable skills. Heck, you can even just “day camp” and get used to hiking about and having an evening campfire before heading home if you wish. I would recommend at least 1 full day, complete with sleeping in a tent or other shelter, if only to get the full experience.
The main thing to consider here is what your group can handle without hurting themselves or missing some obligation. Certainly try to avoid maximizing all the luxuries, but there’s nothing wrong with taking things slow when you’re still getting used to the atmosphere and skills needed.
Where to go?
National/State Parks often offer extremely cheap and convenient camping locations if you’re looking to have a few services (camp bathrooms and spigots for water) and some even offer truly primitive camping during certain seasons. These are probably your best bet unless you have a friend or family member with a few wooded acres to work with.
What to bring?
This is where you can get really creative. In all honesty, most people tend to bring half of their house with them when they camp and most of that stuff is beyond excessive. For preparedness and to improve the fun, try artificially limiting the amount of stuff each person can bring. Many scouting troops, for example, have “Shoebox Camping” where each boy is told to bring only what can fit in a shoebox (aside perhaps from essential tools like a hatchet that can be carried on the person or a proper sleeping bag). This forces you to think of what is really needed, since a shoebox can only hold a few food items and small tools unless you’re willing to get really creative.
You could also bring certain experimental or “survival only” tools, like a portable water filter or your firestarter kit. This lets you give them a try in a useful environment without having your life on the line, getting you used to using/cleaning each tool properly.
Camping is definitely a fun way to learn some practical prepping skills and hone others. Make sure you give it a try at least once this summer, you won’t regret it!
Have you tried camping with preparedness in mind before? What did you learn or what did you do? Let us know in the comments below!
This article first appeared at Prepared For That: How to Improve Your Prepping Skills On a Budget: Go Camping!