American Survival Guide - - LAST WORDS - BY BRIAN M. MOR­RIS

Now is a good time to take a mo­ment to re­flect on the preps we had en­vi­sioned our­selves get­ting done by the end of last year. For most of us, what we en­vi­sioned at the be­gin­ning of the year is not quite a car­bon copy of the tasks we ac­tu­ally com­pleted. But don’t sweat it—at least you are think­ing about things you can and should do to keep your fam­ily safe and give them ev­ery ad­van­tage when things get real and lives are at risk. There are plenty of valid rea­sons that plan and prac­tice don’t al­ways match up. Any­one who has been prep­ping for more than a day can tell you that there re­ally is no end to the things you can do to im­prove your pre­pared­ness pos­ture. Often, one prep leads you to an­other that wasn’t on the orig­i­nal plan. It can be an ex­haust­ing cy­cle if you let your­self be­come ob­sessed with ex­pand­ing the plan and you don’t learn ways to in­cor­po­rate prac­tic­ing your preps into your leisure time and recre­ational and other ac­tiv­i­ties. Here’s a trick I have had suc­cess with. One of the preps I make sure to do twice a year is to main­tain my land nav­i­ga­tion and di­rec­tion-find­ing skill sets, be­cause I re­al­ize that these are among what I re­fer to as “use it or lose it” skills. This means they are per­ish­able and can be eas­ily lost if you do not prac­tice them on a some­what reg­u­lar ba­sis. One of my fun­da­men­tal preps for my­self and my fam­ily is to be able to put as much dis­tance be­tween my­self and “ground zero” of an event that meets my cri­te­ria for bug­ging out—pos­si­bly for­ever. I re­al­ize that to be able to ac­com­plish this suc­cess­fully, our land nav­i­ga­tion skills and di­rec­tion-find­ing abil­i­ties al­ways have to be up to par. I never minded throw­ing on my ruck, grab­bing my 1:50,000 map, pen­cil, pro­trac­tor and lensatic com­pass for a day or two of point-hop­ping around the woods. It lets me be­come one with the sights, smells and feels of the for­est. How­ever, get­ting my wife and kids to show the same level of en­thu­si­asm is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent story. I know they need these skills in case I am not around to lead them, but I also know that the only way I am go­ing to be able to get them to learn these skills is for me to get them to want to learn enough to be able to quickly and ac­cu­rately guide them­selves to safety. In the past, I turned this prac­tice into a trea­sure hunt. When the chil­dren were younger, it was kept sim­ple and lo­cal­ized; but, as they grew, so did the chal­lenges. We would cache gift cards or “get-out-of-chores-free” cards in mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions and across var­ied ter­rain in ur­ban, ru­ral and back­woods set­tings, de­pend­ing on how much time we had to pre­pare. It also helped that ev­ery­one had to cre­ate and pre­pare a “nav­i­ga­tion lane,” and no one got the points on their own lane as their nav­i­ga­tion ex­er­cise. Dif­fer­ent points also came with dif­fer­ent nav­i­ga­tional meth­ods: One point might be a ter­rain as­so­ci­a­tion with a map only, while an­other might be dead reck­on­ing, via which you have to fol­low a sin­gle dis­tance and di­rec­tion plan to lo­cate your point. I’m happy to say that this worked well for us. In the end, your imag­i­na­tion is re­ally the only thing that lim­its how you in­cor­po­rate plan­ning, learn­ing and prac­tic­ing into be­ing pre­pared for all the con­tin­gen­cies in your plan. Be cre­ative in your ap­proach so that if the un­think­able were to hap­pen, you will know in your heart that you did ev­ery­thing you pos­si­bly could to pre­pare your­self and your loved ones for any sit­u­a­tion life might some­day throw in your path. Imag­ine how much more of your list you’ll com­plete next year.

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