Those of use who have proudly carried the title of “survivalist” from the 1960s have experienced a lot of misrepresentation and even hostility through the years. Many are still beset with a certain level of paranoia about going public or even discussing preparedness with friends and neighbors. This fear is unwarranted if you are a responsible and reputable citizen. I can say that even when I was on multiple local and national television and radio stations, I never experienced any trouble from my community, the government or my employers. Even back then, a lot more people were on my (our) side than anyone would have thought. Support and interest in personal emergency preparedness and family self-reliance is far greater today than it was back in the Cold War. Nuclear War was something that could happen to some people, but climate change, resource depletion and economic disintegration are things that are happening to everyone. The public is increasingly interested in changing their lifestyles and learning more about self-reliance. Women are now often the first family member taking the lead in participation in seminars and workshops. Survivalists are no longer an odd subculture. Today, survivalist are “main stream” America.
Live Free USA has been energetically advocating and defending the concepts of preparedness and self-reliance publicly since the 60s. When TV, radio and the press were open to us in the early years we were successful (in most cases) in getting our message out. This brought us a small solid core of dedicated survivalist. Opportunities were limited during the 90s, but we now include a full array of public outreach and education activates including:
- The annual Camp Independence weekend survival-training event in northern Indiana that has been running annually since the early 1970s. This may be the oldest continuing public survival preparedness event in the United States and has hosted thousands of people and been the subject of several TV programs over its 40-plus years.
- Exhibits are established at gun shows and county fairs that raise funds through the sale of survival publications and build membership and contacts.
- Speakers and programs are provided for local fraternal organizations, veterans groups, churches, and community organizations. Programs on emergency preparedness are in high demand and well received.
- We work with local Boy Scout organizations and Civilian Emergency Response Teams where our experience and instructors can be of help.
- Every chapter is required to do at least one open, public service presentation every year.
- Each September (Preparedness Month) since 9/11 the organization does a host of regional preparedness seminars, exhibits and fairs throughout the central states. These are often done in cooperation with local emergency agencies and survival related business.
Bringing the self-reliance message to the public
These programs are publicized through newspaper advertisement, websites, community calendars, and flyer distribution. The events build public understanding and support while recruiting new active members and instructors. In turn, this facilitates even better programs and public services. Since the concerns of the host groups and participants varies widely, we adjust presentations and programs to meet their needs. The goal is to get the most people started towards some level of preparedness and encourage further steps towards general self-reliance. Level One programs are generally short presentations on emergency preparedness and/or outdoor survival. Usually this brings a request for more detailed presentations. Level Two programs include hands-on and workshop events related to family self-reliance and/or wilderness survival. Level Three programs involve extended training, often outdoors or at established training facilities. Being a not-for-profit organization, we keep the costs as low as possible to encourage the maximum participation. We do work with both professional instructors and equipment vendors wherever necessary.
Principles and Imperatives
While internalized organizations may have the elusion of security, experience has demonstrated that they seldom last more than a few years. Without outside contact and new members, they wither and die. The programs of health organizations are at least 50-percent interactive with the community.
Groups that interact constructively with the community are far less likely to fall victim to false perceptions, hostility and suspicion.
Public activities provide a open door for recruiting new members, instructors, and supporters that will strengthen and energize the sponsoring group.
Public outreach and education is the fulfillment of a moral (Christian) obligation to help others. The better prepared the community is the safer it is for the survival/self-reliance groups that share its geography and resources.
In the absence of strong public leadership and education for increased family preparedness and self-reliance a fearful public may be sold centralized and oppressive security alternatives that will destroy the future of life and freedom for today’s children and generations to come. The idea that the general public is hostile to survival and self-reliance advocates is a myth. Although the majority of the population may still be in denial about current and impending disasters, they are increasingly receptive to the views of those who are concerned. We continue to find scores of individuals and families, who are eager to learn, teach and participate in organized preparations. Surviving in a dying civilization is not good enough for responsible and patriotic citizens. Only the wide spread acceptance of responsible preparedness and a shift from dependency to self-reliance thinking by the American public can make a true difference in the future.