Survival Psychology: Hello the Camp

Keeping your survival retreat safe

In many western stories there is a scene where someone approaches a camp site after dark. Often the phrase “Hello the Camp” is used to hail those at the campfire.  Many assume this is just a “Hollywood” line; it is not.


By Captain Bart, contributing author of SurvivalCache.com

The need to identify yourself as you approach a group not your own, or any campsite (even yourSurvival Retreat Planning own) after dark, is a matter of life or death in many cases.  American Mickey Marcus (aka Michael Stone – he was a member of the US Army and could not use his own name or US rank) became the first general in the army of Israel in 1948.  He responded to a request by Ben-Gurion to help the nation of Israel establish an army based on the skills he demonstrated during WW2.  Six hours before the cease-fire that resulted in Israel’s foundation, Marcus couldn’t sleep so he took a short walk.  As he returned from his walk, he was challenged by the sentry.  Never having learned Hebrew, he didn’t understand the challenge, didn’t give the correct response and was shot and killed.  The only thing friendly about “friendly fire” is how bad the guy that shot you is going to feel about it afterward.

One of the most delicate operations to undertake is to enter a secure location, especially in low light, during unsettled times.  Even in my house, when someone comes home at night, we always call out “Hello the House!” (except my daughter who sounds off with “It’s Me, Dad” – I never could teach her simple protocol).  Failure to do so results in them meeting me and my 12 gauge shotgun checking out the open door.  No sneaking in quietly to avoid awakening those asleep – I always wake up and I WILL find out who has entered.  It is a lot easier if they just announce their presence.  This in what passes for ‘normal’ times.  After a SHTF event, stress is much higher. Approaching even your own camp, you must announce your presence to avoid a violent reaction from startled people inside the camp site.  Outside your perimeter is “Indian Country” and very bad things happen there (no offense intended – anyone who knows Texas history knows about Comancheria and the Indian Territory that is now Oklahoma).   Bad guys and harmful things exist out there.  Is that noise in the woods your friend, a large animal/predator, an unknown human or a BG (bad guy) with evil intent?

Approaching a Camp

Approaching a camp not your own is even more delicate.  Think for a moment how you would feel SHTF Camp siteif your family has executed its GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) plan, is en-route to the BOL (Bug Out Location) or has reached your BOL, and then an unknown group approached.  Do they want to join with you, rob you, or stay as far away as possible?  Can they bring anything of value or will they put unacceptable strain on your resources?  Your security is already compromised by the fact that you’ve been discovered.  If you let them in to your site, your security is even more deeply compromised since they now see what you have and are inside your perimeter.  If they are prepared, they might be a positive addition but if they out number you or perhaps are better prepared, are you willing to cede control of the site to them?  Once you let them inside, how do you invite them out if they don’t want to leave and you don’t want them to stay?

If you have those concerns, so do the people in any camp or group you approach.  They see armed strangers approaching with uncertain intent.  After SHTF the initial assumption will be that you are a threat.   In truth, you are a very serious threat.  Allowing you to enter their camp is a risk they may not want to take.  Like dangerous predators forming a pack (I don’t know of any predator more dangerous than an armed, scared human being) the initial contact can go very wrong, very quickly.  So how do you navigate this tricky terrain?

Baby Steps

First do not rush into a contact effort.  There is nothing you have to do that has to be done Searching for bad guys during TEOTWAWKIquickly.  Spend some time observing the other group.  You do have your binoculars, right?  Look at them with cold logic.  Are they going to add or detract from your group?  Do you want to join with them if they will stress your supplies?  Are they calm or nervous?  Well organized or confused?  Is there a leader or are they a mob?  Have they improved their position or have they done nothing there?  Remember, they have (or should have) the same questions about you.  Expect them to do the same to your group.  If you decide to contact them, you have made your strategic decision and now entered into the realm of tactics.

Science fiction writers, UFO fans and some government agencies spend time working on so called “first contact” protocol.  The key to a first contact is that one side or the other will be at a tactical disadvantage.  Both sides may believe they are disadvantaged.  If the new comers approach you in force and heavily armed are they aggressive or just careful?  Make a mistake here and you could be very dead. The key to a successful first contact is to accept as much risk as you can handle and no more.  If the other group is too forceful in the attempt to make contact, you may be entering into a dysfunctional relationship so be careful.  Trust you ‘gut’ instinct.  If it FEELS wrong, it probably IS wrong.  Back out and go your way.  Avoid using force if at all possible but back away.

Try to arrange to meet the leader of the other group alone.  The location should be as far as possible from your camp, and his, but within range of the rifle marksmen in your group (See Video on how to set up a meeting from the movie “Heat” click here).  The leader of the other group may well want to be within range of his shooters as well.  Fair enough, you both are concerned about security.  Select the middle ground with care but recognize his legitimate safety concerns while maintaining your own security.  With battle rifles that could be a place as far as 500 yards from your position.  This gives the other group a sense of security while not moving you out of support range.  One person is not likely to be an armed assault, reducing the stress of the meeting.  Do not go unarmed and don’t ask them to go unarmed either.  If they are BGs they will agree but lie; if you are unarmed then, you are dead.  You have increased your personal risk so be sure the gain in survivability is worth that increase in risk.  An ability to read terrain to select advantageous ground for your meeting is a skill that would be good to learn now.  Military manuals on scouting and platoon operations are a good source.

The rules about forming a group before SHTF apply here as well.  If there does not seem to be a SHTF Camp Site with Razor Wiregood fit, disengage.  Offer any intelligence you have on the path you’ve come (status of towns, road conditions, BG locations, etc.), ask about where they have been.  If you have barter items you might ask about a trade if you are comfortable enough that they are safe.  If you have medical skills you might offer to assist them if they appear to need medical help (be careful about sending your medical talent into a camp you don’t control – you might have trouble getting them back out).  Even if not forming a group, this act of kindness will be good for both sides.  Then wish them well and go your way.  Pay attention to your back trail.  The odds are very good the folks you’ve met are as nervous about you as you are about them, but after the SHTF you can not afford to be wrong so stay on your toes.

While I have written this as if two traveling groups meet, it applies equally to a group already at its BOL.  With some modification (it is more difficult without back up support) it applies to an individual as well. In an abnormal situation like SHTF, stress is high and fear can cause catastrophic mistakes where firearms are available.  At your BOL you have a better choice of the meeting place and terrain but care must be exercised.  Under no circumstance should warning shots be fired.  Remember, if you fire a warning shot you have “shot at” the people you are trying to warn.  The resulting fire fight, that no one wants, is your fault.

Meeting after SHTF is always risky but it will be necessary if we are to begin rebuilding our lives.  If they are concerned about the same issues that concern you, there may be a chance to form a group that will increase the level of security and odds of survival for everyone.  If there is no common ground, then you have left yourself a way to break contact gracefully and safely.

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

wyzyrdap May 19, 2011 at 5:26 pm

well said, sir. If you want to make friends, a surprise meeting is seldom good.
Even in a 'normal' weekend camping situation, letting people know you're approaching is a good idea.

I am having a 'senior moment" here, and cannot remember the old SF book (probably Heinlein or Pournelle?) who had a quite sensible "first contact scenario" for desired post-SHTF contacts.

1) approach new camp (1 'diplomat') with no visible weapons, announcing oneself loudly in a friendly manner, arms/hands straight out ahead, palms up, obviously 'unarmed' (not really) , but covered by 1 or more friendly snipers.
2) raise hands open to shoulder level, if asked to show non-offensive status, but not obviously threatened.
3) if hands go up in "standard hands up" gesture, snipers open up, diplomat hits ground.

Let's hope none of us ever have to put this into practice, but do keep it in mind.

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CaptBart May 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm

That is something that I didn't mention and probably should have. Every group should have their own hand signals and 'battle language'. You need a way, verbally and non-verbally, to communicate securely with members of your group, up close and at some distance.
It was actually mentioned in the Sci-Fi novel "Dune" where the family had its own set of hand signs to communicate privately, even in a group.

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Minarchist_1776 May 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm

People these days have more or less forgotten the use of Morse code. However, it can be used to communicate in a variety of different ways from the obvious ones of radio and telegraph systems to flashing lights and even hand pressure. Then there's semaphore. If you're close enough you don't need to use flags and the arm/hand movements don't need to be that large or that obvious. Also, getting trained in Amislan (American Sign Language) could be a definite advantage here.

IIRC Edison taught Morse code to his fiancee so they could communicate with each other while holding hands and their chaperone was none the wiser. Granted guys would look weird holding hands, but you could probably put your hand on somebody's shoulder without attracting too much attention. Also, when ships in the Navy UNREP the off duty signalmen usually "talk" to one another informally using semaphore without flags and with limited hand gestures. It is possible that people who didn't know what to look for might not realize that any communication was taking place at all.

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moto61 May 19, 2011 at 9:33 pm

CNET.com offers at least 1 program that is free that will help you learn Morse Code and there is on program that will run on a computer that will take the feed from a Radio and pipe it thru the Mic. input to decypher Morse code. It claims to do 50 wpm with at least 95% accuracy. I need to put it on my laptop and take my little SW radio outside away from the electrical interference in the house and see if it really decodes. The reviews on CNET indicate it does a fantastic job. I have the training program and I have looked at it but I just haven't gotten serious about learning yet. :(

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moto61 May 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm

This is the link for `Just Learn Morse Code`. Maybe I didn't get it off CNET. I can't find this link on there website so I did a search with Bing. –> http://www.justlearnmorsecode.com/download.html

wyzyrdap May 19, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Learning ASL is a good idea (I used to be married to a certified translator who hated to teach.. oh well…) Now that my hearing is beginning to fail, I wish I knew more. the more people you can "talk" to, the better off you will be. Quiet is good, too.

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wyzyrdap May 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm

This is a very good idea, Capt – The "standardized' patrol silent hand signals are a good start (http://zombiehunters.org/wiki/index.php/Military_Hand_Signals , if posting URL's is OK) . I have found that with family and friends the "Meet the Fockers" type "2- fingers/ eyes on, and a direction signal" is a better "look there" signal when birdwatching silently w/family, but YMMV.

Find innocuous-looking hand-signals and codewords that are only meaningful to your group for "public use" (an example – I shared a house for years with a very-PTSD Royal Marine/SBS Desert Storm veteran who always carried a pair of tungsten-carbide throwing-spikes behind shirt collar. Scratching the back of the neck with a slight nod was understood by my friend, his wife and myself to mean "possible danger – be on your toes", the verbal version was 'delta" – similar to the word "garment" in the Atreides battle-language in the novel "Dune", mentioned by the good Captain. The fact that these were absolutely meaningless to the casual observer is the usefulness as a family/group signal.

Yelling "RUN AWAYY!!!" may have worked in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" , but maybe something like "liver and onions" or something equally silly, could well save your life. It's your group's code – keep it to yourselves, and pay attention. The same way that your family and friend develop 'In-jokes" that are only funny to you, you can develop silent or spoken codes to warn each other of possible danger.

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CaptBart May 20, 2011 at 8:59 am

Posting the link is OK but I think the opening parenthesis messed up the link. I think you meant ( http://zombiehunters.org/wiki/index.php/Military_… ) I always leave a space or two between the parenthesis and the URL just to keep things clean.

Also don't forget the duress words. Innocent words that meant I'm in real trouble, I'm being forced and can't talk freely. For example, my kids have never called me father so if the family chose that as a duress code they could use it (not our real code of course). Then a simple "Father, please open the door," when they come home at night tells me to open the door with a gun in my hand. Several such codes to say things like 'I'm asking permission, please say no' (quite useful for teens who want an escape from pushy friends); I need you to come and get me; I need you to come and get me and come armed; and so on.
One of the easiest is from the Sherlock Holmes books. Holmes would tell Watson to come dressed, meaning bring a gun. Telling a family member my coat is heavy says there is a gun in it. If they wonder why I'm drinking coffee instead of a beer or margarita, a simple, "I'm over dressed' is all it takes.
Don't make it too complicated or it gets forgotten. Don't make it something that might be said in normal conversation or the result could at best be embarrassing. Simple words and phrases that pass meaningful messages can make a huge difference in family safety.

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Chris October 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

You're thinking about "Lucifer's Hammer" where a group that takes refuge on a Senator's compound in California is holed up and various ne'er-do-wells come to the entrance. One encounter describes the selected leader of the defense force (not the Senator, he was busy inside someplace) goes out to meet the visitor. When they pull a gun on him he raises one hand and tries to talk the guy out of it, knowing if he raises his other hand, both hands in the air is the sign for the sniper to kill the guy.

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Minarchist_1776 May 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm

It seems to me that it would make sense to avoid making contact at night if at all possible. One thing that might help but that I have not seen mentioned is displaying a white flag as an indication of one's intent to be peaceful.

By all means check out any group that you want to make contact with at range first. Binoculars are the ideal tool to use. Some people may want to use their rifle scopes for this chore simply to cut down on at least some of the equipment they have to carry with them. The problem there is that the reaction you might get if you are observed while watching things through a rifle scope may be quite a bit different from the reaction you get if you are observed while watching things through binoculars. Granted that you will be practicing good camouflage techniques, but you are not the only person in the entire world who can do so.

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CaptBart May 20, 2011 at 7:40 am

Excellent point – a scope mounted to a rifle is NEVER a surveillance tool. If you must use your rifle scope in that fashion, dismount it from your rifle. Looking down a mounted scope is an act of aggression; period. Do not do it.

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BadVooDooDaddy May 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Very good advise. In the military we used challenges and passwords to keep security tight. It is always a good thing to study a group before approaching them for any reason. It is better to b e a bit tight about opsec than getting in trouble.

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CaptBart May 20, 2011 at 7:42 am

If you are too tight about opsec (is that even possible?) you may miss an opportunity to join a group but you probably won't even know it. If you are not tight enough, you will find out in the worst possible way, at the worst possible time that you blew it. Murphy, after all, was a bloody optimist.

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badvoodoodaddy May 20, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I agree with you it is better to miss an opportunity than to end up dead trying to find out.

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Rescue7 May 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm

In any group their can be a lack of skills or talents. What can you bring to a group? If you are purely looking at joining a group for your own needs you fail to see the possibility that they may need your skills or talents. Diversity in our society helped us grow past the agrarian age and become advanced. If you think about what you can offer a group in terms of helping them you stand a better chance of being allowed in.

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CaptBart May 25, 2011 at 11:26 am

Excellent point, sir. I suspect certain skills to be highly prized after TSHTF. Most likely medical skills, wood working (without power tools), gardening – the basic set of homesteading skills will be appreciated. It is very likely that most of the survivors will know how to shoot. If that is the only skill you've developed you may not be much use. A ham radio operator with a portable radio could also be highly prized. We've specialized a great deal so we can afford to have people working as bank tellers, clerks, administrators, etc. Post TEOTWAWKI, I suspect that a simple farmer with a basic set of tools will be much more valuable than a computer programmer with an computer and no power grid. This might be a good time to examine our own skill set and if it isn't valuable (be honest here) post TEOTWAWKI then set about getting a skill that will be.

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JohnDoe1999 May 20, 2011 at 8:35 am

I remember being taught on exterior guard duty that a simple and casual "who's there?" was considered incorrect. We were taught to "over emphasize" our words like "William Shatner's bad Acting." I also stress that knowing a perimeter is up and that any group approaching will not surprise you, avoids chaos and confusion which therefore lowers the risk of accidental fire fights. As Machiavelli said: "good order and discipline makes men courageous; Confusion, cowards." Besides, nervous people are dangerous. Make sure that a clear plan exists for your group if approached; one person might escort a scout to center of your camp, thus revealing all of your capabilities, while another might shoot a diplomat on sight, either way it's not a good outcome. The Army's general orders since it's inception are based on security. It's not a bad idea to learn them and use them as a guide:
1. I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.
2. I will obey my special orders and perform all of my duties in a military manner.
3. I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions to the commander of the relief.

I also recommend learning exterior guard duty protocol, it can be found in Army TRADOC Pam 600-4 Chapter 4, but be sure to get a 2006 or 2008 edition, the 2009 doesn't have it. If you're interested in individual skill sets check out FM 3-21.75 The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills.

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tinderwolf May 20, 2011 at 10:23 am

Very good artilce. This is something that I think is sometimes overlooked. Good communications skills is a must! One thing I might add which I believe was somewhat mentioned above, is to add distress words or signals to every member in your group. The specific situation i'm thinking of is if a member of your group gets "kidnapped" by an outsider and tries to bring the outsider back into the group under false identity. The outsider telling the group member to tell the group they are friendly and are known just so they can get close. Same principle as a police officer asking someone at their front door to blink three times if an intruder is in the house.

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steve malarchik December 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

stress words are a sound way to get a point across. just remember as well, body language is a dead give away.

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aj52 May 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Good article and additional comments! I would add to be wary of being "funneled" into an area by manmade or naturally occuinrg obstacles. Think shooting fish in a barrel. If you find your group getting crowded together rethink your travel or approach. Also most of the people on this site seem like decent folks. This could make us vulnerable to sympathy plays such as women, children, injured or elderly used as diversions. In any travel or approach pay attention to your 6. I found this out the hard way years ago walking my dog in the woods near my home. As unreal as it sounds several wild dogs let us walk right by them and only moved after several more dogs approached from my left and right. If dogs can surround and outflank so much more the ability of people. I am confused though as how to arrange a meeting as discussed above on neutral ground. 500 yards is mentioned as an example with supporting fire a consideration which makes sense. How does one signal the intent to meet in no man's land and maintain a safe distance? One minor point on the tent city picture above. This picture is a poster for how not to set up a camp. Keep up the good work!

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CaptBart May 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm

aj52,
setting that up is touchy. I would suggest a procedure similar to the following –
Go into an open area within range of your shooters and about 500 yards from their site.
Wait there no more than 1 hour. Leave a note saying you'll be back tomorrow, same time and will meet with 1 and only 1 of their camp to talk sharing.
Return the next day, same drill.
If no response on 3rd day, move on.
If time is critical, make it a 4 hour delay instead of 24 hours. This is just one way to go.
Your comments about channeling movement is spot on. One of the first things I try to do in improving a position is to channel the access to that spot. The Greeks held the Persians at Thermopylae because the attack was channeled. Once the Persians figured out a way around, the Greeks lost.

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T.Rapier May 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

The white flag idea is a universal . Good idea but maintain a respectable distance and make them meet you half way , not too close to your camp , not too close to theirs . Great article

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Rescue7 May 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Setting up camp as though you are out tail gating is ill advised post SHTF… First choice is for a secure location. High ground makes it easier to see people approaching from a distance. Stay below the crest to avoid being sky lighted. Move into deep brush with no trails. Lay low until you need to move again. If you don’t need a fire don’t have one. Have noise and light discipline. Set up security. Fido is really good for security at night. Bad weather makes you more vulnerable to infiltration.
Questions to ask yourself: A starving mother and little child walk up to your camp… What are you going to do? What about other starving people? Personally, I would ask them what their plans were, what skills they had, and what they could contribute. You never know, they could be on their way to a better place than you were.

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T.Rapier May 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Feed women and children …. men are expendable , too many as it is . Im pretty Arthurian where thats concerned . Sorta like Women and children into the lifeboats first .

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JohnDoe1999 May 21, 2011 at 6:04 am

T.Rapier, I'm all for putting women and children first, it's a man's duty. But I hardly consider men expendable; if one of the children is kidnapped for ransom that we don't have, other women and children probably wont get him/her back. Most people don't have the skills to actually execute a Hostage Rescue Raid (myself included) which is an extremely dangerous operation even for well trained, equipped, and supported units. However, the sight of a dozen armed men is intimidating. I'm sure that some women are exponentially more dangerous than the average man, but it wont appear so.

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T.Rapier May 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Quick question , who commits the majority of kidnappings to begin with ? who is going to commit the majority of home invasions ? who is most likely to shoot for road rage ? who is most likely to commit violent crimes to begin with ? who is most likely to send their nation to war for their own ambitions ? ….. not the ladies . Everything on a case by case basis BUT yes they are expendable in the big picture . Why do you think in ancient times a conquering force killed all the men and spared the women and children . In an extreme shtf or teotwawki situation , thing would most likely revert back to that way of life .

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T.Rapier May 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Besides , in a shtf situation . If you see a pack of dudes walking around that DONT have any women or children with them should be your first clue that there is something WRONG with them . Personally , not worth the chance to find out . Lock and Load .

JohnDoe1999 May 22, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Ok, I'm not going to be pulled into saying something rude, I don't know or care how this conversation even got this off topic.

CaptBart May 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm

"A starving mother and little child walk up to your camp… What are you going to do?" A rather difficult question and one to be considered before TSHTF. From my Bug In location it is one thing. I have my charity stocks already in place. If I am in the process of GOOD then my supplies are extremely limited and my capabilities are compromised. Are you planning to carry give away food as you GOOD? If not, are you willing to put your women and children on short rations to help the unprepared? Are you prepared to explain your decision to the rest of your group? There is NOTHING easy or exciting about TSHTF. We sometimes sound like the mall ninjas as we talk about some of these things, but the fact is, there are decisions, literally life and death, that will be made by each of us. To the best of our ability we should avoid making them in real time but make them we must be prepared to do.
Rescue7's answers are good ones and he is right – unless you contact and interact you may miss a chance to add substantially to your group. But remember, desperate people will do desperate things so you must be careful.

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JohnDoe1999 May 23, 2011 at 12:57 am

Bugging out isn't my preferred choice and using a method an old Marine taught me, my "Mission Essential Task List" or METL is to prepare to bug in and be invisible so the starving mother would never notice me, then prepare to bug in and "actively defend" with "if you can see this you are in range" type signs and measures to discourage people, and hopefully avoid the situation. However, the James Wesley Rawles ideology of charity stocks, can be thwarted as soon as that mother tells everyone else that I'm being generous; what happens when I tell 100 hungry people that the only food left is for me and mine? Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to, I don't have the means to provide for others. I recently read an E-book called "Holding your Ground, How to Prepare for Defense if it all Falls Apart" A scenario presented was the starving mother coming to my door, me ordering her to back off to the side walk and throwing an MRE and bottled water out towards her, but not before a rifle round slams into my chest from 200yds away, thus leaving the entry to my house and family open. I highly doubt that my family members are truly prepared for the sheer violence of action of a half dozen men rushing the door. Even if I'm not killed instantly, I'm dead. I'm incapacitated, and the means to treat me short term and long, are non – existent. It's ugly, but I'm not prepared to give the benefit of the doubt.

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CaptBart May 23, 2011 at 7:59 am

While I am in basic agreement, remember, the "you're in range sign" is a flashing neon sign that says there is something here worth looting. There is a saying, "you can't save the world, you can only help one individual". At some point we have to decide on how much risk to take. I'd never leave someone on the sidewalk. The procedure I came up with (due to the shape of my home's entrance) is to have them stand at the entrance (about 3 feet from the door – brick wall on both sides) while I place food on at the front door. Increased risk, yes, but greatly reduces the sniper threat. Part of the act is the "I'm depriving myself to help you and there is no more" routine. There is no easy answer – I don't plan to answer the door after TSHTF and the house will appear already looted. Ultimately, it comes down to how long you think TSHTF event will last. For Hurricane Ike it was about 3 weeks. I shared with my neighbors. Now they are prepping as well. It could backfire if the next one lasts a year and they haven't prepped for that but think maybe I have. Helping out does disclose your preparedness but there is a point (OK, I am a sucker for kids) that I can not cross, not even for survival. The law of the sea was women and children first. Even on the Titanic the crew stayed on board. When that law is broken, the scorn of everyone descends upon the law breaker.

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Rescue7 May 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Well the Pastor was wrong and we’re all still here. Should we see a true EOFTWAWKI event will we loose our humanity, compassion, and Christian values? It sound like some will. I will react as the good people of Joplin, Mo. have by going out to find survivors, rescue the hurt and helpless and help those who cannot help themselves. Should we need to hunt, fish, and gather… We will do so together. We will rebuild a society were the strong help the weak. Not a society built on fear, paranoia, mistrust and greed. We will rebuild America.

T.Rapier May 22, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Ok Capn’ , Your articles are well thought out , informative as well as well written . Off topic but , you mentioned bugging in on another article . It may be of value to others to give thoughts on the psychological pressures one is going to go through dealing with close quarters of almost ” solitary confinement ” Rural not so much but in an urban situation , your movement will be very limited ( and dangerous ) being cooped up by yourself or a group will have unique stresses . Just a thought .

As far as my comments go , and somebody not liking it ……I dont really give a ……never have…. never will . Just sayin .

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CaptBart May 23, 2011 at 8:30 am

Thank you for the compliment, sir. You are correct, the close quarters will be a problem. I thought this was the last of the Survival Psychology articles but I will look at the living together topic. There may be another one to write after all.
As far as comments, agreeing or disagreeing is not so important. Since I am not thin skinned I tend to not get upset by folks not liking what I say. I say what I believe and think and everyone is free to react as they see fit. The important thing to me is that I not give offense through carelessness or a poorly formulated sentence. The problem with written communication over the internet is that all of the visual clues are lacking and the regional nuances may be missed. Calling someone 'boy' in parts of the deep south can be an insult; in the part of Texas where I grew up, it is a term of endearment. English can be a tangled language.

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T.Rapier May 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

Aye Cap’n ,
Speak your mind as a person sees it or hold the tongue in silence . My sweety is from Russia , and you have to admit , our written language is as stupid as it gets in comparison to other languages and long over due for an overhaul . She has been in the country for a long time and her sentence structure is still visibly off ( I think its cute ) But your correct about regional differences ( in this case cultural differences ) she doesn’t get a lot of humor or sarcasm at times .

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T.Rapier May 24, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I thought about the bug in confinement issue because of a program that told about the Navy’s psychological screening for people in the submarine service …….. its not for everybody .

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bob May 24, 2011 at 6:04 am

hello the camp…go the hell away, the usual reply. the words are quite simple to understand arent they? no one can offer much of anything. and if they keep coming forward , beware. females especially. besides there is enough trouble to go around, why let someone else compound the problems..stay on guard, simple advise, but you have to sleep sometime..be aware they know it and will exploit it..good article

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CaptBart May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am

Bob,
That is one approach. My thought is that a meeting outside the camp gives you a chance to pickup news from where they have been and maybe barter for things you might need. You might find out that a horde of MZB is close behind this group and you all need to bug out. You are right, they do know you are there and if the MZB catch them, they might use you to try and save themselves. I suspect some type of 'hospitality' expectation will quickly come to the fore. Rarely did someone leave a camp without at least a cup of coffee, for example.

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Straydog May 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Hello the camp is courteous when not in a survival scenario. However, in a SHTF situation, everyone is a suspect and should be reated as such, including persons of aquaintence. If met while in transit to BOL, I would choose E&E or stealth mode over communication/ confrontation given the opportunity. If approached at the BOL, provided you have advanced altert, a glance through the glass and or perhaps a stealthy recon should provide some intel on numbers, strength and intentions. A great deal can be determined simply by how a person or persons are postured. The key word here is "Survival". We are not preparing to NOT survive, right? I suspect any intrusion or perimeter compromise would be treated as an aggressive act and dealt with accordingly.
Cap'm Bart always wirtes an excellent article and the many responses are great food for thought and that is exactly why I joined this site.

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bob February 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm

When observing this new group the most important thing to determine their intent is to watch the wat they interact. How do they treat the young, old and womenfolk.

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KansasScout May 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

basically the polite thing to do when approaching a camp of unknows is to alert them to your presence in a manner favorable to you. Likewise if you are in a camp and unknows approach yours you are polite, but cautious. In either case you act cordually, but never let your guard down. One moment of laxness will spell disaster to you in either situation. (I've read too many Louis L'Amour westerns I guess not to have learned the basic edicut talked about in this article.) What many people don't realize is that as a culture we're all one missed paycheck or major disaster from going from the Information Age into the Dark Ages.

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Chris September 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Don't think I saw this in the comments:

If you are approaching someone else's camp in the hopes of barter/intel swap/etc., you should probably not take anything with you that you aren't willing to part with. They may decide they want your high-speed bug out bag with all the trimmings, but not want anything to do with you.

Conceal your gear a ways off, go in and make friends, and establish that you'll be back in an hour/day/etc to conclude the trade.

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Conceal you ways off, go in and make friends, and establish that you'll be back in an hour/day/etc to conclude the trade. Dog Food

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CaptBart May 20, 2011 at 7:36 am

As a rabid ham radio operator who really enjoys CW (continuous wave – how hams make code) I do about 20 WPM (words per minute) in code. It is good to know and there are a bunch of us hams out here who do code. I've never used the readers, they can be good on strong signals, I am told. Another source is to look at the K7QO code training. It starts with nothing and quickly moves you to around 20 WPM. Free from several ham groups on the web.

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T.Rapier May 20, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Im sure you know this already but there is an unbreakable code that was invented in WW1 and is still in use to some degree today . both the sender and the receiver have a book of literature , say ” War and Peace ” what they send over the air is a set of numbers for each word . One number is the page and the other number is the word on that page separated with a dash . Simple and unless you know which book or have it or are even aware of it , anybody listening in will just get a bunch of nonsensical numbers with no pattern or logic to decipher . Simple as Dirt .

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CaptBart May 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

A true code is impossible to break without the key if the key (the book) is changed often enough. The Japanese always considered their code unbreakable so they didn't change it very often. The German Enigma machine was actually a cipher, not a code, so it could be broken with enough time.
Any book works as a code book. Without a sufficiently large computer, such a code would be unbreakable. (For a while, a code's security was judged in 'Cray Days' – the number of days a Cray super computer would need to break the code.) Such a code is useful for sending messages "in the clear" over radio or telephone but is of little use in a tactical environment due to decode times.

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CaptBart May 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Not too far off topic. I think there may be more agreement than it appears from the link. T.Rapier is right about a group of men only. May be OK but be very, very careful. As to lethal women, I've known a few and they are very dangerous indeed. In a SHTF scenario, no one is 'expendable'. Women and children are the future, but they require men to complete the civilization. As for who starts things, the question is more or less irrelevant unless you have a context. Certain types of abuse are predominately committed by women and in spite of TV and groups, a surprising amount of spouse abuse is committed by the woman.
Rescue7 had an excellent point about setting up camp. The first priority at a new camp site is to 'improve the position'. That means survival issues; site defense, entrance/exit corridores, security; etc.

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T.Rapier May 23, 2011 at 10:07 am

Funny thing about that is the counter espionage tactics used by everybody , to actually invent a bogus code , just to make the other side waste countless hours and resources trying to break it . The Cold war was a good example .

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CaptBart May 24, 2011 at 7:38 am

Yep, the tragedy is that his hubris will cause some people to lose their faith – not in him (which is justified) but in God.
The problem with many of our discussions is that we don't usually establish a time frame. What the conditions are immediately after TSHTF (and this depends on the extent of the event) are not likely to be the same as the conditions 4 to 6 weeks after TSHTF. In Joplin, there are a great many heroes risking their lives to help the victims. One rescuer was struck by lighting and is in the hospital in critical condition. More severe weather and tornadoes are forecast for today and yet they are there and working – heroes all. Similar stories can be found in the Ike, Katrina, Japanese quake/tsunami, in fact, in every disaster that I'm aware of. The problem we need to consider is what if there is no help coming? The first few weeks after a total TSHTF event will be chaos – there were good Samaritans during the LA riot but there were also many predators. The trick is telling the difference. After the first few weeks things will have sorted out – you will know whether or not help is coming; is it a short term TSHTF or is it TEOTWAWKI?
Most will respond as they have lived. Very few will actually change after the fact. The entitled and the takers will continue to take. The generous will be generous still. The wolves will be wolves and the sheep dogs will begin to really show their teeth.
It is all a matter of timing and time to recovery.

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