Teenage Survival Part 1: Before Their Time

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By Josh •  6 min read

If you are an old dinosaur like some of us then you have been acquiring the tools needed for survival for decades. If you are not quite so long in the tooth, you may have just started preparing for a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI event but you still have the legal right to make all of the decisions needed.

In addition, you have control over your revenue stream as large or small as it might be.  Some of our readers are not so lucky.

Back and Forth Between Capt Bart and Josh

Captain Bart

The problems for those among our readers who are under 21 are much different. For those under 18 the problems are even greater. This article (or series of articles) will address some of the problems of our under 18 readers. For the sake of brevity, I will refer to anyone under 21 as a teenager. I intend nothing derogatory, it is simply easier to write that way.


I agree that it is often times very difficult to try to be prepared when you are considered to be a minor. I am somewhat younger than an old dinosaur such as my co-author Captain Bart, and I am going to try to cover the other angle of what Captain Bart covers throughout this article.

Captain Bart

The first thing to keep in mind is that the mission at hand is survival, not combat. We often talk about firearms and the role of weapons in defense and providing provisions for surviving.

The survival mindset is what must be kept in mind as we discuss what teenagers can do to prepare for SHTF. Your first and most important survival preparation is an informed mind that is prepared to face reality no matter how unpleasant the reality is.


We often get emails from inquiring teens wanting to know what they can do to be ready for end of the world combat, and the more realistic danger of personal self defense when society still functions as it does today.

My best advice is to practice something called situational awareness, Captain Bart has a wonderful article on this topic (click here). In brief, situational awareness is just being aware of your surroundings, and trying to defuse a situation before it even starts. Your goal should not be to be looking for trouble, or making yourself stand out.

You don’t need to be listening to your iPod while you are going to the store, or walking around your neighborhood, doing so both draws your attention away from your surroundings, but also advertises that you have an expensive electronic device that can be pawned as fast as it is stolen from you. Be the gray man.

Captain Bart

So let us begin with the environment. Teenagers usually live at home and depend on an adult/parent to provide the majority of their income. Even if you have a job and contribute 100% of your support, your parents control how that money is spent unless you are over 18.  Even if you are over 18 or even 21, the homeowner (parent) sets the rules for the house.

I always told my kids, “My house, My rules” and I meant it.  As a side note, my son told me the same thing about a year ago when I was messing with his kids. He was right, I was very proud of him, and surprised the heck out of him by agreeing. So, we’ve set the stage; you cannot control your environment or the rules of the house.


This being my personal problem with “prepping”, finance is the weak spot of any operation. Without money, an army can not fight a campaign, without money an athlete can not travel and train, and without money a young person can not prepare, right?

Wrong! There are so many resources available to the young person that cost little to nothing.  Sure you can’t get a top of the line water filter, or the latest and greatest survival knife, but you can do so much to help you be more prepared than the average Joe.

For instance, don’t go and spend twenty bucks on a 5 gallon bucket and gamma lids for keeping your beans and rice in, instead go to the bakery at your local grocery store and ask for their empty buckets that they got flour and icing in. Sometimes they will even clean them out for you.

Another thing that you can do that costs nothing is to read. I know what you’re thinking, “Come on, I do enough reading at school, are you gonna make me read big, thick books at home too?”

Yes, I want you to read, learning to read is the best thing that has ever happened to me, but I am not saying that you have to go and read every medical journal in the library to learn about first aid, what I am saying is that you should go find some good survival literature. ‘Alas Babylon’ by Pat Frank is in almost every library in the nation, check out books by Gary Paulsen, such as his ‘Hatchet’  series, ‘My Side Of The Mountain’ by Gean Craighead George, or even ‘Swiss Family Robinson’  by Johann D Wyss.  The options are endless, go out and read a book.

Captain Bart

For the sake of this article we will assume a worse case environment; one in which even the discussion of preparing is not tolerated. In a case like this you have to start with the first and most basic rule of survival preparation; you must become the gray man.

The gray man is the one who walks through a room full of people and no one can tell you what he looks like. If everyone is in a suit, he is in a suit. If they are in jeans, he is in jeans. He wares nothing unusual, says nothing contentious and does nothing unusual to draw attention.

In this case, that must also apply to your parents at the beginning of your preparations.  Never be disrespectful or disobedient, but within the rules of the house you can still start preparing.


I mentioned situational awareness earlier. I really can not stress enough that you do not want to draw attention to yourself.  I completely agree with Capt. Bart’s take on this topic, NEVER get on the wrong side of your parents or those who are in authority over you.

How are you supposed to survive an economic collapse, or total end of the world warfare if you can’t survive life at home under your parent’s roof? Believe it or not your parents do know what is good for you, and want what is best for you. Be respectful, and you will gain other peoples respect, this works everyday of the year before and after trying times.

Coming Soon: Teenage Survival Part 2


Josh is a Boy Scout and an avid outdoorsman. He specializes in knives (and other such tools), various knots & lashings, traditional skills such as blacksmithing & woodworking, bushcraft and fire starting. Read his full interview here.