Sunday, November 21, 2010

Planning the Bugout, Part III - Maybe On Topic This Time

You see what happens when you smoke weed? You put three entries in a series and they barely have anything to do with each other. In the first post you have a guy actually complaining about having 30+ bodies in his bugout group, and in the next he's talking about his character sheet. Weed doesn't make you dumb, it just scatters the thoughts you have until they are practically see-through. But this time I'm going to try and answer the original question I posed, which is how do you keep a large group motivated and together long enough to go on all these three day FTX's and make preparations to fight in the Zombie War?

Let me know if I get off track again.

It is one of the most common questions on any and all survival forums-"How do I get my spouse\best friend\parents into prepping? I am concerned with their welfare and want to get them in on my plan, but all they ever say is 'I'm coming your house'" And for some of those groups of people I don't know-I have never been able to convince my parents or grandparents of anything; in fact my own prepping is largely due to their influence. But, if you were to ask me, "How do I get an existing group of 20-something drug using antisocial gamers into prepping?" I might have an answer for you.

You see, it all starts with gaming. Gaming is a wonderful example of the same kind of thinking that perpetuates on internet gun forums in such threads as "What if you were like at the gas station and like 14 taliban terrorists came out of a clown car and started shooting up the windows? lol" and "What kind of body armor do you reccomend for my new job as a bouncer in a local nightclub?" It forces you to take an unusual tactical scenario and react to it. I've been this group's DM for a long time, and there is a reason that Apocalyptic themes are common in my game world. And I have all the help I can stand there-the Apocalypse is all over the movies, books, video games and all other forms of media. It is very much in the popular narrative.

The internet gun forum hardass would interject at this point that this kind of thinking is foolish and encourages mall ninja habits. And it might, I dunno-I have two guys I am trying to talk out of Taurus Judges and one guy that swears by loading his shotgun's tube magazine with a complicated pattern of different specialty rounds. But it gets them thinking about the subject, and never stops being a fun topic of discussion and debate for the group.

Building on that concept-no, not gaming, but fun-I don't make people feel bad about enjoying the training and I don't stop them from feeling badass by cutting them downwhen they practice. This is important, because if people don't feel like there is some reward for doing all this hard, dangerous, uncomfortable stuff for no pay, they won't do it and that is that. Some people have enough will to simply do it for some theoretical future benefit, but the best way to keep them coming back is to make them feel good about what they are doing and that means tapping into the old 'camo and plastic m16s' in the woods feeling you get from either playing war in the woods as a kid or playing a tactical shooter online or whatever your kick is. I mean, I've never been to gun school, but I've taken martial arts classes that were supposed to be taken so seriously that cracking a smile was a no-no and you had to pretend like you didn't enjoy taking martial arts at all. And that is just a bullshit attitude. I like martial arts. I like guns and shooting. I like rough camping and foraging. And I'm not going to act otherwise, just to impress some hardass that I am paying to perform a service for me.

Anyway, the point is I don't scream at or belittle or do any of that other cliched drill sergeant bullshit when we are practicing together, because these people's association with me is all voluntary and punishing them for it is counterproductive to my goals. For a similar reason, I don't try to frighten people into prepping-even if I 'win' by using that gambit, motivation out of only fear doesn't hold up very well long term, and if they don't keep coming back it isn't worth the effort to work with them.

I didn't mean to start with a negative here, so here is a definite DO item-keep your existing ties strong. You need to do stuff together that isn't apocalypse related, or you might be straying over into crazy territory, so make sure you keep your friendships with the people around you at a healthy level. To survive an apocalypse, a strong, cohesive bond will be a treasure beyond measure, if it isn't now.

Here is another DO item-DO know the motherfuckers you are with, in detail. Know their capabilities, their weaknesses, their secrets and neuroses. It is one of my biggest advantages in leading this outfit-I have known these people a long, long time, I have seen them at their best and worst, and we foster an open environment where everyone shares things naturally-and I keep careful track of all this knowledge.

Again it all comes back to gaming-when I make someone put down their stats on a sheet (and keep them honest when they do it) I get a pretty good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are. More importantly, during the game I see what kind of choices they make, what kind of thinking they use, what fallacies and inaccuracies they believe. I have the opportunity to test them, to force introspection on them, and to present them with the kind of situations that they are going to face in the PAW. I can gently correct misconceptions and discuss communication and chain of command issues in a fictional context. And I can do it all in a fun, casual environment that is 100% opsec gold-no one will suspect a group of gaming nerds to be dangerous armed militants, except of course Jack Chick. (ZING)

And one more DO for the list-DO encourage your friends to learn useful skills. I've been trying to implement a system of Accomplishment patches for a year or two now, right? And I have a guy who is a graphic design student and a talented artist, who will be designing them for me. Pure motivation, right there-when they are done, and if they look sufficiently bad ass and punk rockish, I will have useful motherfuckers falling out of my ears. But the patches are an affectation in any case-it is simple enough to say "Oh, yeah, dude, you should totally pursue an EMT-B certification or an auto mechanics certificate or a ham radio license." You make them feel good about contributing, and they will naturally contribute as much as they can.

And now to bring it on home-let's have another DON'T list item. For fuck's sake, DON'T expect miracles out of these people. None of them are ever going to be professional operators or high level competitive shooters. Remember that all these fucks work day jobs, have kids and responsibilities, and have no obligation to even be seen near you. Be humble.

So, to recap, don't act like some hardass martinet, reward the behavior you find most profitable to your unit's success, know everyone involved on a deep and personal level, and keep your expectations realistic, and you can be outfitted for the PAW in no time.

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