BASE CAMP BA­SICS

Key con­sid­er­a­tions for your home-away-from-home

American Survival Guide - - CONTENTS - By Dana Benner

As I write this ar­ti­cle, many of my friends on the Big Is­land of Hawaii have been forced to bug out due to the re­cent erup­tion of the Ki­lauea vol­cano. Some flew off the is­land to stay with friends on the other is­lands; oth­ers flew to the main­land. Still oth­ers are forced to stay, move to safer lo­ca­tions on the is­land and ride out the river of lava. Gath­er­ing with friends and neigh­bors, they have pooled their re­sources and es­tab­lished base camps as—hope­fully, tem­po­rary—“homes-away-from-home,” if you will. They’ll stay in these safe places un­til they can go home again. They will make it through this nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, be­cause they planned in ad­vance and were pre­pared to deal with this dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion.

WHAT IS A BASE CAMP?

Simply put, your base camp is your base of op­er­a­tions af­ter you’ve been forced from your res­i­dence. It is where most of your (re­main­ing) sup­plies are kept. It is where you will find “the com­forts of home,” as your new sit­u­a­tion de­fines them. Your base camp is your safest haven in times of trou­ble. How­ever, a base camp, along with the rel­a­tive sense of security it pro­vides, is only as good as the peo­ple in it and a plan and gear that put it all to­gether. It all starts with that plan.

THE PLAN

Some­thing has hap­pened that causes you to leave home quickly. You have all the “stuff.” Your bug-out bag is over­flow­ing with the lat­est gad­gets (which, hope­fully, you know how to use), and your truck is full of fuel. You are ready to go, right? Not if you don’t have a plan. Where are you go­ing to go? Who will you go with? What skills, sup­plies or gear will they bring with them? How are you set re­gard­ing med­i­cal and com­mu­ni­ca­tions ca­pa­bil­i­ties? If you haven’t fig­ured all this out, you’re ba­si­cally just all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Long be­fore any dis­as­ter strikes, you should have a plan drawn up and be able to ex­e­cute it. As things change over time (minute to minute, in some cases), you should also have a plan B and per­haps even a plan C. As you de­vise your plans, keep where, when, who, what, why and how in the back of your mind. Where? Fig­ure out where you will run to, if any­where. The area you choose for your base camp could even be your own home. The area se­lected must of­fer sev­eral types of pro­tec­tion: It should be as free from nat­u­ral threats, such as floods, as pos­si­ble and de­fen­si­ble from the hu­man kind while hav­ing ac­cess to water and food sources that can sup­ple­ment your stores. Is your base camp easy for you to get to or get away from but not read­ily ap­par­ent as a sur­vival shel­ter to the un­know­ing ob­server? Do you have enough space to store your sup­plies? All this needs to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion when pick­ing a lo­ca­tion for your base camp. When? When do you make the call to head to your base camp? The sooner the bet­ter. At the first sign of dan­ger, you should have your ve­hi­cle ready to go. You should have con­tacted all the mem­bers of your party so ev­ery­one knows you are on the move. In ad­di­tion, con­firm when and where you will meet. When do you start plan­ning? Now! All mem­bers of your party should be stock­ing up on food, water, med­i­cal sup­plies, fuel and ammo on an on­go­ing ba­sis. Don’t wait un­til you are run­ning out the door to plan a quick stop at the Pig­gly Wig­gly. Who? Who will you have with you? Does your group com­prise friends and fam­ily? Does it in­clude neigh­bors or mem­bers of a like-minded sur­vival group? Who will be in charge? Who will del­e­gate the dif­fer­ent du­ties that go into mak­ing a base camp run and make sure the work is done right? All this should be part of the plan, and it should be agreed upon long be­fore the plan needs

WITH­OUT A PLAN, YOU COULD END UP IN A WORLD OF HURT. IF YOU DON’T BE­LIEVE ME, HEED THE WORDS OF BEN­JAMIN FRANKLIN: “IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU ARE PLAN­NING TO FAIL.”

to be im­ple­mented. One per­son can’t, and shouldn’t, do ev­ery­thing. Se­ri­ous con­se­quences can arise if there is only one skilled and pre­pared mem­ber in your group. The pri­mary ad­van­tage of the group is that you share each other’s strengths and min­i­mize the im­pact of their weak­nesses. For ex­am­ple, if any­one in your party has med­i­cal train­ing, they should be in charge of all med­i­cal sit­u­a­tions and sup­plies, which will in­clude proper hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion. If some­one is tech-savvy or me­chan­i­cally in­clined, I would put that per­son, or per­sons, in charge of keep­ing the power go­ing (gen­er­a­tors, so­lar pan­els, recharg­ing bat­ter­ies, etc.) and com­mu­ni­ca­tions (ra­dios and cell phones, in par­tic­u­lar). While all mem­bers of the party are re­spon­si­ble for base camp security, I would put the most ex­pe­ri­enced hunters or those with ap­pli­ca­ble mil­i­tary or polic­ing skills in charge of weapons and security. In other words: Pick the right peo­ple to get the job done in the most ef­fi­cient man­ner. What? While there is no one-size-fits-all list of “stuff” that will guar­an­tee suc­cess in a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion, you should be able to as­sem­ble a list based on a scaled-back ver­sion of your cur­rent ev­ery­day needs. Ba­sics in­clude— • Food and water and the im­ple­ments needed to process and pre­pare them; • Med­i­cal, hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion needs; • Security and food-pro­cure­ment ma­teriel; • Tools suited to the va­ri­ety of projects, tasks and re­pairs you ex­pect to face; • As­sorted types of iden­tity, health, own­er­ship, fi­nan­cial and le­gal doc­u­men­ta­tion, along with ref­er­ence ma­te­ri­als for sur­vival and other skills. This list is longer, of course, but re­mem­ber to weed out the things you’ll be able to make from ma­te­ri­als at your new lo­ca­tion from those you have no choice but to bring with you. Why? Why do you need a plan? Why do you need to move? Why do you need the help of oth­ers? With­out a plan, you will lose fo­cus. You will get noth­ing done, be­cause you will be pulled in dif­fer­ent and un­pro­duc­tive di­rec­tions. With­out a plan, you could end up in a world of hurt. If you don’t be­lieve me, heed the

words of Ben­jamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are plan­ning to fail.” De­spite your best ef­forts, your cur­rent lo­ca­tion might no longer be safe, and you might have to move. Follow the plan, and head to your base camp lo­ca­tion—no mat­ter where it is. You need oth­ers, be­cause it is highly prob­a­ble you won’t sur­vive over the long term if you’re alone. On your own, you might go down due to an ill­ness or in­jury that some­one else could have helped you over­come. Work­ing with oth­ers al­lows you to pool re­sources, di­vide up the work that needs to get ac­com­plished and helps de­fend what you have from those look­ing to take it from you. (Learn from hu­man and an­i­mal preda­tors that will prob­a­bly ap­proach your lo­ca­tion in groups.) Be­ing part of a group al­lows you to draw upon the skills of oth­ers. The term, “safety in num­bers,” ap­plies here. It also en­ables you to pro­vide each other with emo­tional sup­port, with­out which you might not be able to thrive. How? How do you plan on get­ting to your base camp? Are you trav­el­ing by ve­hi­cle, on foot or via some other method? How will you man­age if you have to carry all your sup­plies on your back? How can you take ad­van­tage of nat­u­ral re­sources at your new lo­ca­tion? How is it all go­ing to work? How long can you stay at your base camp? The an­swer: Pre­pare and follow the plan.

SETTING UP

Wher­ever your base camp is lo­cated, it is im­por­tant to stay or­ga­nized. Ar­eas need to be des­ig­nated for med­i­cal, kitchen, sup­plies and la­trines. Fuel stor­age must be sep­a­rated from liv­ing ar­eas. La­trines, if they must be dug, must be lo­cated away from food stor­age, pro­cess­ing

LONG BE­FORE ANY DIS­AS­TER STRIKES, YOU SHOULD HAVE A PLAN DRAWN UP AND BE ABLE TO EX­E­CUTE IT. AS THINGS CHANGE OVER TIME (MINUTE TO MINUTE, IN SOME CASES), YOU SHOULD ALSO HAVE A PLAN B AND PER­HAPS EVEN A PLAN C.

and din­ing ar­eas, and water sources. If your base camp is a sound build­ing, shel­ter is al­ready taken care of. If not, you need to set that up as quickly as pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially if the weather or en­vi­ron­ment is harsh. Once your base camp is es­tab­lished, take stock of your sup­plies. Fig­ure out what you have and what you need. Food and water are your top pri­or­i­ties. You will never have enough of ei­ther. Un­less more of both can be found, you need to be pre­pared to ra­tion them. Keep in mind that all water sources are sus­pect, so have the means to pu­rify it be­fore drink­ing or cook­ing with it. San­i­ta­tion is an­other topic that needs to be ad­dressed. A group of peo­ple, no mat­ter how small, will carry dis­eases and germs. Poor san­i­ta­tion will in­crease the chance of ill­ness quicker than al­most any­thing else. Have the means to stay clean. Make sure hu­man and pet/live­stock/ poul­try waste is dis­posed of prop­erly—away from food or water sources. Dig a la­trine away from base camp and then bury the waste; al­ter­na­tively, de­velop a com­post­ing plan if any­thing other than hu­man waste is an­tic­i­pated.

MY BASE CAMP PLAN

This is some­thing I hope I never have to im­ple­ment, but I am pre­pared to do so if nec­es­sary. In my plan, my first choice for a base camp is my home. I chose this for nu­mer­ous rea­sons: • It is lo­cated on high ground so flood­ing is not an is­sue. • It is eas­ily de­fend­able. • It has a large stockpile of food, water and other sup­plies. • There are friends and neigh­bors nearby with re­sources that can be com­bined/shared. • There is plenty of room for fam­ily, friends and neigh­bors to join us. • It of­fers nu­mer­ous es­cape routes if we need to evac­u­ate quickly. • I am very fa­mil­iar with the area and re­gion. Be­cause even the best-made plans can go wrong, I have a plan B. This is an­other base camp site that is deeper in the woods and is al­ready stocked, just in case. Ev­ery emer­gency sit­u­a­tion will be dif­fer­ent, but you have to be pre­pared, no mat­ter what. You could be at your base camp for days, weeks or even months. In a worst-case sce­nario, it might be­come your new home. You might have run­ning water or even elec­tric­ity (for a lit­tle while), but chances are, you will not. Work as a team with the mem­bers of your group, whether they’re your fam­ily, friends or neigh­bors. You can’t rely upon the state or fed­eral govern­ment to take care of you. If you doubt that, just look at Puerto Rico—now, al­most a year af­ter the hur­ri­canes hit that is­land—as an ex­am­ple. If you de­velop a plan, stick to it and are proac­tive in­stead of re­ac­tive, there is a good chance you and the mem­bers of your group will be fine.

THE AREA SE­LECTED MUST OF­FER SEV­ERAL TYPES OF PRO­TEC­TION: IT SHOULD BE AS FREE FROM NAT­U­RAL THREATS, SUCH AS FLOODS, AS POS­SI­BLE AND DE­FEN­SI­BLE FROM THE HU­MAN KIND WHILE HAV­ING AC­CESS TO WATER AND FOOD SOURCES THAT CAN SUP­PLE­MENT YOUR STORES.

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Nat­u­ral dis­as­ters can hap­pen any­time, any­where. You had bet­ter have a plan and a place at which your group can weather it out.

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When se­vere weather has made stay­ing home im­pos­si­ble, it’s time to get out and follow your plan for setting up a re­mote base camp.

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Left: A cabin in the woods makes a great base camp lo­ca­tion.

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Right: Keep ac­cu­rate records about the sup­plies you have on hand.

Near right: Go through your sup­plies so you know ex­actly what you have.

Far right: Set up an area where food will be pre­pared and served.

Far left: Make sure your base camp is fully stocked with freeze-dried foods and MRES, such as those from MRE Star, Moun­tain House and Pa­leo Meals to Go.

Left, mid­dle: A Solo Stove bio-fuel stove is just one way to cook meals in base camp us­ing available, free fuel.

Left, bot­tom: The en­closed front porch of this cabin makes a great base camp com­mu­ni­ca­tions room.

Above: A good pack, such as this one from Black­hawk!, will help en­sure your gear makes it to your base camp with you.

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Al­ways try to se­cure more food when­ever you can.

Por­ta­ble stoves, such as this Camp Chef Ever­est, as well as a good cast-iron Dutch oven, such as this one from Lodge, will make food prepa­ra­tion much eas­ier.

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This base camp is well-con­structed and will pro­vide good pro­tec­tion from the el­e­ments. Would you and your group be able to build some­thing this ro­bust quickly and ef­fi­ciently?

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