A couple of months ago, our homeschool changed focus to more of a practical preparedness approach. We are loosely using the Prepare and Pray curriculum, but as usual, life has kept us busy with different twists and turns, preventing a completely consistent use of Prepare and Pray, as it’s written, anyway. The focus is still there.
With our Pathfinder Club, the boys have learned many useful skills, like knots, camping skills, and rescue, just to name a few. I am extremely thankful that we have a good club! Since that’s finished for the year, the boys really have purposed to learn more of these practical skills this Summer, in the form of more honor patches. Having a little incentive to motivate them sure makes a difference!
But last weekend, our whole family had the opportunity to participate in a really wonderful time of learning! The whole focus of the five day camp meeting was Preparedness–with the focus being on the time, which we believe is soon, when things in our world will be very different from the way we are accustomed to. The Bible calls it the Time of the End. Now, we believe that Jesus is our only Refuge in the storm that is coming. Yet, if we know that we can learn skills that will help us to better deal with what we know is coming, when our modern conveniences won’t be able to be depended upon, then we are wise to consider taking notice.
The name of the camp meeting was Total Preparedness Camp, and was put on by Jim and Becky Buller, of Preparing to Stand Ministries. We attended in Liberty, KY, but they hold these camps in different locations throughout the country!
Our family was only able to stay for 2 1/2 days of the time, but in those days we learned so much! Daily, we learned from the Bible about people like Noah, who moved with fear and built an ark because he believed that God would do what He said He would do. Morning and evening time were the Bible study times. The middle part of each day was for learning practical skills–very hands-on!
I was amazed at how engaged our boys became in the topics being presented, even if they’d already been exposed to it before! By the end of our time, they were actually volunteering to hurry up and clean up our camper so they could attend EVERY meeting possible! This does not always happen with my boys.
When we came back, we compiled a list of some of the skills we focused on. I’m sure we missed some, but here are the bulk of them: Sabbath, we learned about finding directions in the wild, and participated in an activity illustrating that even those of us who think we have a good sense of direction just don’t. We can’t trust our innate sense of direction, because in almost every case, it led the person off track. Interestingly, in children, it was more accurate. On Sabbath, we also learned how to make a solar compass, took a wild edibles hike, learned how to identify flint rock, then how to use that flint with steel, to start a fire. Our youngest son came back from the hike with pockets bulging and pants sagging under the weight of his newly-found flint collection. We also discussed survival priorities that first day.
The next day was designated as No Buy, No, Sell day. In essence, we got to imagine that, like the Bible says , there will be a time, when, if we are loyal to God, we won’t be able to buy or sell. So, in a very small way, we just practiced what it would be like to live without some of of our modern conveniences, and used no electricity, stoves, or fossil fuel–basically nothing that we couldn’t readily obtain from the land as far as heat and power. I was a little nervous about this, but in reality, we only practiced this for a portion of that day, in the daylight hours, and nobody really felt deprived. We really need to practice this one on a more lengthy time period to get a better feel for it. But, it was a good place to start, since few people live like this anymore.
We started by harvesting vegetables out of the garden. This is not a big deal for some people, but there were some others attending who really had never dug a potato or pulled a carrot from the ground! And they were so happy to get their hands in the dirt and do this simple task! Their excitement made it fun for all of the rest of us as we were reminded that pulling food out of the ground really is amazing!
Next, part of the group experienced cutting down a tree with no power tools–only hand-powered tools! I didn’t hear any complaints but I’m sure it was hard work. We then used that wood for our fire, because lunch had to cook over it! If I had to cook every meal over an open fire, I’d not get much else done! It takes forever! The “Camp Kitchen Crew”, of which I was a part, all worked in harmony–each preparing some tasty dish to share. Our family just purchased a cast iron Dutch oven so that we could learn something new. I’m so glad we did! As I chopped potatoes and onions, I looked around for our sweet potatoes. Those got left at home. Almost as soon as I realized that, someone came along calling out, “Does anyone need any sweet potatoes?” “Yep, right here!” Before long, another brother brought corn, asking the same thing, so I added that to our pot, remembering the story of Stone Soup.
Soon, we had three Dutch ovens all stacked up on top of each other, with good things inside cooking away! Someone had a rocket stove, so we got to try how that worked as one family cooked hominy, and ours gave a good effort at black beans. We decided that we need more practice on the rocket stove, and some adjustments are probably needed. But, we got beans and hominy for supper.
How could we squeeze so much into just one day? I don’t know how, but I do know we packed a lot into that day. We got to observe an energetic young man till/disc the ground using horse and mules for power. It’s funny how this is the way things used to be done for centuries, but to us, it is really almost a spectacle to see people work! I will say that he did it barefoot, which caused me a few shudders inside. Also, we learned about shelters and saw how to make a simple shelter from a tarp. We still need to practice that one. I think they probably did that when we left. But we have plans to construct our tarp shelter soon and sleep outside in it. The boys do, anyway.
The last day we stayed, it poured down rain! We were supposed to take a survival hike, but things got switched around and we did more inside learning. We learned how to prioritize in a survival situation, how to make useful tools out of natural materials, and what to take in your backpack. We learned how to make the charred cloth that is helpful for starting flint/steel fires and how to make a water filter. We had a good lesson on how to sharpen knives and other blades, and the boys had the opportunity to make cordage (rope) out of natural grass-type material. It’s funny that they learned this, because we recently had to learn how to make rope, but we didn’t really know how to do it from natural materials.
Listing all of these “skills” doesn’t give a full picture of our experience at this camp meeting. There was just something about being together with like-minded people that was an encouragement. We came from all over, but I believe that God brought us together. I can only speak for our family, but we really feel blessed to have had the chance to attend.
Something happened after we came back from the Campmeeting. All three boys have suddenly revived their interest in their little gardens! With no prompting by me, they are all outside, where they’ve been for the past hour, digging away, and scouring our closets for more seeds to plant! I’m not going to discourage our eldest, who just informed me that he planted a row of pinto beans (from the store). I don’t know if they’ll grow or not, but whatever happens, he will get a cause-effect lesson, so it will be a win. 👍🏻
The boys took notes, and I’ll just share a little excerpt, because I believe it sums up the reason we feel like it’s good to keep learning new skills.
Most old people made their own food, but the people in this time don’t. You need to grow your own food.
I’d encourage anyone who has the chance to check out one of these preparedness camps. Here’s a link to the site where you can find out more about them and that also contains plenty of helpful information about survival and practical living