I was nervously sitting, along with 49 other people eating breakfast on the last day at a camp my friend had started. We knew something of sorts was going to happen, where we would put to use the survival skills we had learned.
We just weren’t sure what, when or how.
There had been a lot of anxious chatter the previous night among the crowd, making alliances, plans, guessing. A camp coordinator came into the cafeteria..
“We don’t want to alarm anyone. We’ve received reports of suspicious activity. The authorities have issued a lock down…”
Before they could finish, a group of zombies burst through the door and attacked him. Yes, you heard right, ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!
Panic ensued and everyone ran out the closest exit, breakfast and plans instantly forgotten.
And so began the day where I formed so many memories, and took away ‘Prepper lessons that went beyond the basics of fire starting skills, purifying water, and what have you.
Zombie Survival Camp
A weekend at zombie survival camp is something I’ll never forget. First off, what a fun way to learn basic survival skills! And to have shared it with my partner on top of everything else! Aside from specific survival skills, the zombie apocalypse simulation taught me:
- Skills are important, but adaptability to apply them to different situations makes you more resilient.
- Plans are useful at a high level but any more than that become wasted time. When disaster strikes, it’s impossible to plan for everything.
- Community, community, community. Creating a community of friends, family and neighbours is important, but it may well end up not being them that help you.
Adapting To Situations
There is a romanticism and nostalgia to go forth like the pioneers and live off the land. Or more accurately, subsistence living. I’m no exception. When we talk about prepping, it’s often associated to owning some land or have a plan to GTFO of town, and skills for total self sufficiency. I have no beef if that’s your dream. However I do believe it’s a mistake to limit effort and conversation on preparedness to this scenario for a few reasons:
- It’s not realistic for our current world population to spread out and all ‘live off the land’
- When disaster strikes, you may not have the ability to remain at your home base, be it country or urban. Or perhaps disaster will strike when you’re away from home.
It’s so much more important to learn core skills and build up the knowledge and fortitude to adapt them and be adaptable yourself.
Generalized Plans Are Useful
Camp organizers purposely refused to provide any details on survival simulation day. They simply dropped a few hints that something would happen. To be honest, they probably only even did that so we wouldn’t completely freak the f** out.
It was interesting watching the effect it had on everyone. Of course, no one thought their life was in danger. But the brain’s reaction doesn’t distinguish between simulated threat or reality. Everyone was edgy and most spent the entire evening making alliances and plans. What type of plans? All sorts really. Multiple plans because they just had no idea.
You know what happened to all those alliances and plans? Poof! They all went up like a puff of smoke, so to speak. When the zombies burst into the food hall, everyone forgot their plans and made a hasty exit. Whichever was nearest and clear.
What plans did work out? The most basic ones. Instinct to look for exit signs, rushing out and away until, at least for a moment, you figured you were safe to pause and assess what’s going on and your next step. Plans to secure a safe shelter, resources for food and water and gather information also happened.
While a shelter was made, it’s location was completely different. What about alliances? That changed too; they weren’t around. And that was with the knowledge that SOMETHING was indeed going to happen THE. NEXT. DAY.
Community is your greatest resource. It is what binds survival skills (building shelter, sourcing food, etc), adaptability and general preparedness, to make you more resilient and have a better chance of getting through long term. Who that community will be is dependent on the situation.
The greatest thing I learned through this experience, is ultimately your community is who’s around you AT THE MOMENT. If the situation at hand is local with your chosen community, that’s who it will be. When chaos strikes, it may be some people you know, complete strangers or a combination of both.
When everyone ran out of the cafeteria and eventually paused to look around, as soon as you spotted someone close, it was like a magnetic pull. Both people came together, and soon enough others close by joined. This happened everywhere; soon you had groups of people sporadically spread out, finding a safe zone. Your community wasn’t constant. As the day went on, you’d join forces with some people to go out and complete a task. Depending on the situation, you’d end up at another safe zone, with a different community.
And so the day went on, aside from completing some survival tasks, a storyline emerged. Details and facts of the disaster was spread from one safe zone to the next. New alliances were made up of members from different safe zones to take on tasks to solve the issue and end the zombie apocalypse.
Community, adaptability and general plans aren’t limited to zombie apocalypse! This applies to preparedness in general. Whether it be for a natural disaster, short term power outage, and financial situations (lay off, recession, etc).