Camping for Survival Preparation

As I’ve made survival preparations that include water storage, survival supplies, and surival skills, I’ve realized that the perfect way to turn them into practical experience is camping!  It’s so obvious now that I’ve figured it out.  I started out small last thursday, setting up the tent with a large inflatable mattress in the backyard.  It was the best night’s sleep I’d had in a while.  I think part of the reason is that, after setting everything up, you’re nice and tired – ready for bed!  I only had my oldest son with me.  We read one of his funnier books, laughed over cookies and milk, and called it a night around 10:30.

The next night, I tried the same thing with all three of my boys.  Partway through setup, I decided to skip the air mattress.  I wanted to see if I could really “rough it” under survival situations, and the comfy mattress seemed out of place.  Plus, it’s large and took up just too much space in my 4-man tent.  That night ended up being miserable!  I didn’t sleep very well on the ground, and the younger two boys wanted to stay up way to late playing and fighting.  When I woke up on Saturday morning, I took down the tent, ate a quick breakfast, and took an hour-long nap on my real bed.  Fail.

That afternoon, I reached out to my friends on SurvivalistBoards.com, asking for tips and experiences sleeping on the ground.  Within hours I had great advice from several experienced campers.  The most helpful for my particular situation were comments from Hick Industries, IceFire, GunGourd, and ex-hunter. They got at the core of my problem – confusing recreational camping with survival preparation.  They should be approached differently, and bedding is a good example.  IceFire even made the amazing point that in survival situations, you probably want to sleep lighter, and therefore slightly less comfortably.

So, I’m over my concern that nicer bedding isn’t “rugged” enough.  If I can thrive with small amenities like a sleeping pad and matches for fire starting, I’m still way ahead of most people.  And as ex-hunter pointed out I can always practice the harder stuff whenever I want, to build up a tolerance.

Saturday night, practice time was over.  We drove out to an actual primitive campsite.  Basically an outhouse, water pump, and fire pits were the only amenities, which was perfect.  Because it was so low-demand and low-maintenance, it was even free!  I took all three boys again. AND the mattress.  It wasn’t big enough for all of us, so I bought some foam sleeping pads from Wal-Mart, and doubled them up under the kids that slept on the ground.  They were fine with it, since it hadn’t really bothered them to sleep on the ground the night before, anyway.  It did create a space issue, the kids on the ground were too close together in a 4-man tent with a queen-sized air mattress.  I’m going to buy a larger tent soon.

I brought one of my 7-gallon water containers, which was perfect.  I prepared well, since the previous couple nights in the back yard taught me what I’d need.  There was only one gaping flaw in my plans: my cell phone was undercharged, and I ended up having to shut it off for most of the trip and only text-messaging with my wife to coordinate our pick-up time the next morning.  This was a big liability, and kept us from extending the trip well into the next day.  I’d wanted to do a longer hike, maybe even stay for lunch.  I’ll be sure to charge any electrical supplies in advance next time, and bring extra batteries for the items that use them.

Thus ended my 3-night tent streak, and I upped my number of consecutive outdoor hours from 4 to 14.  Very shortly, I plan to do a multi-day camping trip instead of just overnight visits, and then I’ll be comfortable staying outdoors indefinitely (within reason).

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