Daylight savings time might be making us all a little bit sleepy this week, but the turning up of the clocks also signals one very important thing – the pending arrival of spring. The winter that seemed like it would never end will finally be drawing to a close. All of us bargain hunters often consider spring the start of “yard sale season.” While I am looking forward to short-sleeves weather and tables full of on the cheap potential preps dotting front yards around America, I am even more excited about the beginning of a new prepper expo season.
Preparedness conventions and expos abound in the spring and summer months. Such events have become so popular and profitable that indoor expos are being created on a smaller scale even during the chilly winter months. I have attended and been a presenter at prepper expos, and interviewed organizers of events held around the nation. Although most are great event hosted by folks knowledgeable about self-reliance, others are merely glorified trade shows.
A new kid on the survival block emerged last year, Prepper Camp™, and took the preparedness community by storm. The camp, which was the brainchild of Survivalist Gardener Rick Austin, focused on preparedness education. Many hands went into the planning and operation of Prepper Camp™ 2014, as Rick is quick to point out, but it was well worth the effort – and the drive regardless of where you live in the country. This is not an empty claim or a paid endorsement.
We drove 10 hours pulling a trailer stacked full of firewood and primitive camping gear to get to Saluda, North Carolina where Prepper Camp™ was held at the Orchard Lake Campground. About nine hours into the trip, my husband Bobby’s Blazer had what we thought was a radiator issue – the smell of an overheating vehicle at night on the side of a mountain is most assuredly not a welcome scent. Since we were virtually straddling a state line and in the middle of no where, AAA got very confused about which office in which state should come to our aid.
They said they would get a wrecker to us in an hour, my husband made sure to tell them that we were driving an SUV pulling a trailer so the proper type of wreck would be sent. It took over two hours for AAA to find us – and yep, you guessed it, they brought a standard wrecker that could not handle our vehicle or the trailer.
During this ordeal, my husband and our son-in-law attempted to work on the vehicle as other cars and semi-trucks roared by. Our daughter was 7-months pregnant at the time, so going to the bathroom became an issue. Being a country girl, finding a bush was not an issue, but maneuvering out of the door into oncoming traffic safely was an issue. Our vehicle was hugging the guardrail and the only thing on the other side of it was a drop that looked to offer a long way down and not a cushy landing. The nice tow truck driver broke a few rules and took Bobby up to the next exit to get some fluid to cool the radiator, had already used the water we were carrying, and then brought him back to us on the side of the mountain.
Bobby, the nice tow truck driver, and our son-in-law James, all thought the radiator had cooled enough and with the extra fluid, we could make it the five miles back to the next exit and get a room for the night and take care of the vehicle in the morning. Well, we thought wrong. Had to call AAA again and wait over another hour for a tow truck, right kind this time. The four of us scrunched into the truck, our 17-year-old canine family member, Fluffy, had to ride in the Blazer on the tow truck.
The next morning and over $1,000 later (hotel room, Uhaul and rental trailer rental) we got back on the road and arrived at Prepper Camp™ a few hours before I was scheduled to give a presentation about power grid preparedness. I shared our road trip from heck in order for this statement to have all the power of conviction and excitement it was intended to relay – all the expense and stress was worth it and even if I had to walk, I would make it back to Prepper Camp™ again this year.
Prepper Camp™ was unlike any preparedness expo I had ever been to, a part of, or discussed with attendees and organizers. It was a true prepper community that no one wanted to leave. There was a sweet sadness to the good-byes that reminded me of a high school graduation day. You could not meet a stranger at Prepper Camp™ and everyone pitched in an helped each other set up their campsites and visited on the cabin and chalet porches until the later evening hours as children played enjoyed the playground and the game room or zipline. All of the months of “herding cats” by Rick Austin and crew surely paid off.
The hands-on and preparedness focus of Prepper Camp™ is what truly makes it stand out among the many great offerings during prepper expo season. Tickets sold out quickly and even though it rained, the fun and excitement of learning how to become more self-reliant was not dampened one bit. I had the honor of introducing one of my favorite authors and the founding father of the prepper movement, William R. Forstchen, as the keynote speaker on the second night of camp. The main tent did not even come close to holding all those who wanted to hear Forstchen speak, blankets and chairs surrounded one of the lakes at the camp, and stars in the clear mountain sky provided perfect mood lighting for his talk. Bill proposed to his lovely girlfriend during Prepper Camp™, adding to the excitement of the evening. She said yes. Bill’s “speech” quickly evolved into a friendly question and answer sessions, he made the entire crowd feel like they were sitting around a campfire in their backyard chatting with an old friend in mere minutes.
The plans for Prepper Camp™ 2015 are still in the planning stages, but are already exciting presenters and attendees from the first event. A long term food storage cook-off, self-reliance course for children, a mounted rescue horse demo, and plans for a hands-on how to session with Survivor Jane and her pal Jen are beginning to take place. The lovely ladies are planning to teach the crowd how to make a few of the items in Jane’s hit book, Emergency Survival Hygiene.
Prepper Camp™ September 18-20 at the Orchard Lake Campground in Saluda. Check out the official Prepper Camp™ website to keep up-to-date on the emerging plans for the self-reliance camp.