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It seems there are a lot of different prepper conferences or groups out there. I am not just talking about Facebook either. I am talking about groups that regularly meet, plan events, or conferences that occur annually.
If that is not your cup of tea then you should still read on for some great alternatives to learn the skills you want to know and need for SHTF.
I don’t go to prepper conferences or group meetings, but that doesn’t mean they are not right for you.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with people taking the time to go to a conference to learn skills and network some. It is hard for me to get away and then you have to add in the cost of going to events. If I am not at home then I am not working on things that really need done around my place.
I am not saying you will never see me at one as a speaker or attendee, but so far I have not went down that road. The whole big crowd issue is a big deal for me. Even if it is out in a field, I still feel exposed at large events.
Be aware of the exact type of classes offered
I find that a lot of the classes at conferences that are listed are beginning level classes. If you have already mastered some of the basic homesteading and preparedness skills then you may not find anything to that really helps you out in your situation. This is not always the case, I just caution you to make sure that you are taking classes that are not something you already know well.
The expense of travel and lost work time is a factor when deciding if a conference is worth it.
Being away from home is not an inexpensive proposition. A hotel room or AirBnB for 3 nights while at a conference is not a small expense. If two people split the cost of a $100 night room and then have to spend $200 on conference fees and materials, that is $700 before any meals. That is a lot that could be put towards preps. If there is a conference close enough you can just commute daily or if it is just a show or expo then the expense may not be that bad.
Purchasing tickets and accommodations ahead of time can also help with costs. Splitting a hotel room or a small group renting a house on Airbnb is a cost-effective option. Of course, camping out in a tent or RV is sometimes all part of the experience. I realize that accommodation needs are going to be different based on age and abilities. Not everyone can or should attempt to camp out in a tent for days.
So what about real-world survival courses?
There are a lot of survival schools out there. At the moment I would say that the courses on urban survival offered by Selco Begovic in Croatia are a bargain and you get to see a different country. Airfare is not included but $875 for a week experience from someone that went through SHTF in a city is worth it. Consider that most survival courses don’t focus on urban survival and they are not usually taught by anyone that actually went through an extended SHTF situation.
Daisy Luther over at The Organic Prepper put the word out that Selco is offering a women’s only course in May 2019 for any that are interested. Daisy is heading over to take it so you will be in good company!
This is a good opportunity for women that want to take a survival course but are not comfortable signing up for courses where there is a good chance they are one of few or even the only woman. The group size is limited to 10, but I could see how there may be other opportunities in the future if interest is very high.
I think Selco has a lot of good advice that can be applied in a variety of situations. I live in a very rural area, but I find that I can apply a lot of what he says to my unique situation and it gets me thinking more in-depth about strategy and the critical psychology of survival.
If you can’t go to Croatia, check out the online courses Selco offers. I discuss and link to them later in this post.
USA Based Survival Courses
To be honest I don’t know much about a lot of the courses offered in the USA. I will say that I can see the value in attending wilderness survival schools that are in your region so your experience is easier to apply when you get home. For example, if you live In North Carolina, taking a course in the woods of California or Washington is not going to help you as much as taking a course in the mountains and woods of Virginia.
Urban survival techniques are easier to apply to any urban area. If you take an urban survival course in a different area or country you do have to keep in mind population density and the way streets are laid out. Some cities are much denser than others. European cities are much older and that is reflected in the narrow streets and layout.
For a listing of some USA based survival courses, check out this list at Primal Survivor.
Know the purpose of the group, so your expectations are not too high.
There is strength in numbers but is your group actually going to get together or attempt to in SHTF or is this just a social group to discuss preps? Ideally, you would have a group that you would meet and practice with and know you could count on them. Of course, this would ideally be your family members but with so many families split up a lot of preppers are considering if they should or at least who they could team up with if SHTF hard.
If group activities are just all talk, then I have a hard time justifying any type of meet up. Actual meetups where skills are practiced are much better for learning true survival.
Find a group where you can learn.
Everyone has to start somewhere. On the other hand, if you join a group of only beginners it may not seem as fulfilling just as it might be overwhelming for a beginner if they go join a group that has been working together and meeting for many years. A mixed group is great for learning, especially when everyone has some skills to share and is open to teaching others. Think about it like this, if you have a group of 20 people and each person has a survival skill they are especially good at then that is a lot of free learning opportunity. Everyone could take turns teaching a class or workshop and before you know it everyone has gained a lot more skills even if they don’t master all of them!
Consider conferences that don’t specify that they are for survivalists or preppers but teach a lot of the same things!
It doesn’t have to have “prepper” or “survival” in the conference title to be useful. Okay, so you don’t want to be seen or deal with a conference that is just about prepping well the thing is that there are plenty of conferences and groups where you can learn a lot and meet others without going to a full on survival conference or course. An edible plants festival or lecture is one example. How about joining the local mycological club for some instruction on foraging for edible mushrooms? Home and garden shows and conferences are also good bets. Mother Earth News hosts huge fairs with classes in many cities all over the US. Admission and lectures are very inexpensive.
The value you get out of groups and conferences is at least partially what type of effort you want to put into learning. There is no question that pursuit of knowledge and skills is going to help but you need to take it seriously and practice after you get home so you can stay sharp and make sure you know what you are doing.
Books can go a long way towards teaching you, and you can get a lot of books for what it costs to go to a single conference.
I was homeschooled from grade 7 on and that pretty much meant I was on my own in terms of education. What I did do was read a lot of books. I would set aside some of the money I earned working fast food jobs in our little town.
Books A Million meant getting a ride with my cousin and her boyfriend to the Asheville Mall despite it being a nightmare to be in the car with them bickering.
I loaded up on cheap paperbacks of the classics because that is what I thought I should read in order to learn and be well read. I did watch the news some as well for better or worse. I could get 5 books for $25 which seems like a deal now but when you make $6.10 an hour as I did back then, it is half a day’s work.
This was 1999-2001 Appalachia, and there was no cheap internet that allowed for easy self-education on an amazing variety of subjects.
I did a post on “Building A Prepper Reference Library.”
My post was just a start on building a book collection. The important thing is to find resources that offer the information you need to survive and thrive during a long emergency, natural disaster, or SHTF.
Online classes and courses
It is amazing what type of education you can get online. There are some very inexpensive options or even free courses from the library.
Selco Begovic survived the war in the Balkans. We are lucky that is he is willing to share what he learned by truly going through SHTF. For those that live in cities or towns, his courses offer a unique option for learning about urban survival. This is real life stuff from someone that has been through it and lived. If you think that a lot of survival classes and courses are candy-coated, then this course is for you. Another major advantage is that you pay once and have lifetime access and that includes updates and “live week” course updates. The forums allow for interaction between course participants and is categorized so you have a place to discuss specific topics and meet other like-minded people. The course combines, audio, videos, pictures and drawings, and over 90,000 words to help you make it through SHTF.
My local library started offering Universal Class to anyone with a library card. Even if your library does not do this, for $189 you can subscribe for yearly access to hundreds of classes on a variety of topics. I was surprised how many different courses were offered. This is a great choice for those that are at home a lot or cannot find the time to go to classes at community centers or colleges. You can do coursework completely on your own schedule.
I will mention Youtube because there is a lot of different videos out there to help you learn and think. The unfortunate thing about Youtube is that they have increased their censorship and allowed politics to dictate what you can see. Some people have found loopholes so they can still do Youtube videos to promote their businesses and increase knowledge. Firearms videos and information have been particularly under attack with Youtube policies.
Internet resources are a game changer
Right now preppers can go online and watch countless videos of how to do any skill they want. This is a resource of such incredible value. While some may ridicule these folk for exposing their preps or lifestyle, remember that these are people that are trying to help you regardless of what that means for their own personal wellbeing. You should feel loved and appreciated!
People that are creating videos or writing about prepping and alternative media topics are no doubt taking some risk of exposure but let’s be honest and just realize that a very basic search can yield anyone’s address or contact info. There is simply not the level of anonymity that there once was. To believe so is to be naive and unrealistic.
Community college classes
Some colleges have more prepper oriented courses available than others. Our local community college has classes on knitting, weaving, blacksmithing, and much more. Of course, a lot of classes require going to the college itself but there are some classes that are done partially or entirely online.
Check out course offerings well in advance and sign up if you see something you like. Popular classes can fill up fast. Materials fees for classes at community colleges are quite reasonable and save you from having to pick out and buy supplies yourself.
Self-defense or firearms classes are available a variety of places
Everyone should know some basic self-defense, but most do not learn unless they put in the effort. While I am not condoning fighting at school, it is hard to deny that kids got more self-defense practice years ago when differences were settled on the playground and did not result in law enforcement and lawsuits.
Martial arts, basic self-defense, learning how to use a firearm, marksmanship, and more can all be learned by taking classes. For women that prefer classes oriented towards them, there are plenty of ladies only self-defense classes. Personally, I think you are better off getting out of your comfort zone and taking classes with men and women alike when possible because it makes you more prepared for reality.
Links to Prepper Conference Listings
If you are interested in survivalist or prepper conferences, here are a few links I have found that are of interest. Please add in the comments any events you know of that may be of interest to the general readership.
This is a general listing of various shows throughout the USA and even some International shows.
This is a very affordable 3 day event in Saluda, NC. The classes are all included and there are many speakers and demonstrations. Inexpensive camping is also available. If you live close enough, and want to try out a conference without spending a fortune, it is one to consider. It appears to be a very kid friendly event too.
RK Prepper shows are held all over the USA and include a lot of firearms oriented stuff.
Have you been to prepper shows? Have you joined a prepper group? What did you like or dislike about your experience at conferences or shows?
Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected].