One of the very best assets you can acquire is knowledge, and there are many avenues you can pursue. In the survival/prepper world, there are tons of schools across the country and around the world, many of them staffed by truly qualified people. They can teach you all sorts of skills, from fire making to tactical shooting.
There are many awesome books and magazines you can read. I have a Recommended Reading list I maintain and update regularly as I’m continually looking for great resources myself.
There are numerous YouTube channels you can follow. I tend to stay away from the ones that focus on scare tactics and bullshit alarmist rhetoric and concentrate on those that are focused on teaching.
Those are all pretty common resources, ones that most folks are well aware of and tend to concentrate on. However, there are additional sources of information that you might be overlooking. Of course, a lot depends on the type of information that’s of interest to you. As you go through the following, I would encourage you to think about what each source could offer you, rather than dismissing them out of hand because, at a glance, it doesn’t appear to be something that would benefit you.
I’ve talked about this before in other essays. Many public libraries offer a range of free classes and other learning opportunities throughout the year. In addition, park and recreation departments also routinely have classes and activities they offer at little or no cost. Most are led by members of the community who have a business related to the subject they’re teaching. For example, the owner of a martial arts school might offer a class on self-defense. Don’t be afraid to approach libraries or parks and rec departments about classes you’d like to see offered, either. They typically appreciate suggestions. I’ve seen classes/activities offered for everything from volleyball to canning food.
While all museums are incredible repositories of knowledge, living museums might be slightly more useful to the prepper or survivalist. These are places where, rather than just locking artifacts behind glass for preservation and study, there are people who are recreating lifestyles as they were back in the day. For example, I grew up a stone’s throw away from Old World Wisconsin. This is an open-air museum that recreates homesteads from the 19th century, complete with gardens, villages, and more. Historical interpreters teach visitors how things were done back then, such as cooking, food preservation, making cordage, and more. I’m not suggesting you’ll become an expert in any of those things after spending an afternoon at one of these places, of course. But you’ll certainly have a better understanding of what it takes to create a self-reliant lifestyle and you’ll likely discover skill sets that you’d never realized you’ll need to learn in order to be successful.
There are a number of free classes you can take right from your own couch or kitchen table. For example, one area of knowledge I feel everyone would benefit from is learning a new language. Not only could it have practical applications, the learning process itself for mastering another tongue strengthens the brain. Duolingo is free and is quite easy to use. Another great resource is edX, a site that offers a huge range of courses taught by professors and staff from some of the top colleges and universities in the country. Subjects offered range include medical, electronics, engineering, physics, natural sciences, and tons more. These are just two examples, there are many more out there, including coursework that’s offered by FEMA for those wanting to learn more about disaster readiness.
Assisted Living Communities
The older generations are one of our most overlooked resources for knowledge and wisdom. An awful lot of those people lived through incredibly difficult times and have a wealth of memories we could benefit from, if we’d only take the time to listen. Many of these facilities are always looking for volunteers to assist in a variety of capacities, including just visiting with residents and spending time with them. Doing so would benefit them just as much as it would you.
The Society for Creative Anachronism focuses on the Middle Ages. They offer a range of activities, from armored combat to recreating medieval arts and sciences. The appeal for the prepper or survivalist would be things like brewing, blacksmithing, archery, fiber arts, and cooking, all done as they were in the 1700s. These reenactment groups are very dedicated to the theme and require participants to dress and act accordingly. They can also be a great way to meet new people who might share similar interests with you. There are also other organizations for those who are interested in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and other time periods as well.
Learn Through Experience
This is the hardest one of all. It requires you to get off your butt and actually doing something so you can see what works and what doesn’t. Gardening is a great example. It isn’t as simple as just tossing seeds into some dirt and waiting for veggies to pop up. It requires a lot of hard work with soil prep, planting, weeding, watering, and more. You can read about it all you want and watch all the videos out there, but until you get your hands dirty, you just don’t know what you don’t know about gardening. This applies to any skill set, of course. Practice makes perfect, or at least leads to a degree of proficiency.
Become a perpetual student. Actively seek out learning opportunities. Strive to become a well-rounded prepper or survivalists, too, and don’t just concentrate on the areas you think are the most fun and ignore the rest. You never know what might prove vital to know down the road.