I think there's a fair number of preppers who approach prepping like a club. Some people are into the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), Science Fiction conventions, or Steampunk. Others, it appears, are into being preppers.
All these clubs have their little get togethers. SCA members compare how Medieval and authentic their equipment is. Steampunk re-imagines gear for an era that never was. Preppers brag how many battle rifles or pounds of wheat berries they have.
These groups have their garb. SCA clothing has to fit into a certain historical time period. Steampunk is known for the "goggles on the head" crowd. Science Fiction convention goers are often dressed as Klingons and other fictional aliens. The uniform of choice for preppers is camo.
It's all fun and games. All these groups run around and play pretend.
Oh no, you say, the preppers are getting ready for collapse and collapse is real.
The problem here is that the collapse that many preppers prepare for is just as fictional as an SCA event, Steampunk gathering or Science Fiction convention. Some are all prepared for the "Golden Horde," where starving city dwellers overrun the countryside. Others are betting on MZBs, Mutant Zombie Bikers. Nuclear war was and is a perennial favorite. Last winter swine flu was the disaster du jour. Civil breakdown, peak oil, economic collapse, asteroids from space, pole shift -the list is endless.
If your preps are all geared for one specific kind of disaster, you aren't really a true prepper, you are in a Prepper Club. Let me illustrate the difference. One who treats it like a club has his heart set on a narrow range of possibilities. That would make sense if a person knew exactly how and when a specific disaster would take place. Let's face it, our knowledge of the future is limited, and if you believe in free will, the possible future is constantly changing.
A real prepper doesn't focus so much on what can go wrong. Instead he focuses on what he needs to live and be safe. We all need the basics, food, water, shelter, clothing and security. A prepper makes sure the basics are covered. He doesn't so much focus on what will kill him as what will keep him and his family alive.
There are as many ways of covering basic needs as there are preppers. Situations vary. A man in the country with a fresh spring on his property wont be storing water jugs the way a more urban man would. The person who's allergic to wheat won't be storing wheat berries. Maybe they'll go with rice and potatoes. Details don't matter. The fact that the food need is covered for a period of time is what's important. Same goes for all the other needs.
Being able to provide the basics of life support will be useful in most scenarios -everything from the collapse of civilization to the more prosaic yet more likely event of job loss. The same basic preps cover most contingencies.
Once the basics are taken care of, if a prepper wants to prepare for deeper or more exotic problems . . . well, it's like a guy with a perfectly serviceable car who wants a sexy sports car for fancy occasions. It's not a priority, but if you can afford it and it makes you happy, why not?
A true prepper is aware of changing circumstances and acts accordingly. If he sees crop failures all over the world, he might put in a bit more food storage. It could make the difference between eating and starving. More likely, it'll save him a few bucks on his grocery bills every week. If he thinks it might be a harsher than normal winter, he might put in a better woodstove and few more cords of wood. The basics are covered. He doesn't actually need anything new to survive most problems. When information of a credible specific threat comes to light, he may want to tweak his preps to better handle that threat. There's no panic involved. If he can't run to the store to buy more food, ammo, clothes -whatever, he'll still be able to get by on his basic preps.
Personal example: One winter a sudden snowstorm blew in. I asked myself if it was worth going out to get more supplies. I thought of what I had at home. The fresh produce and juice was pretty low. Was it worth going out in the snow to get more? No. I could make do with frozen and canned veggies and powdered flavored drinks. Since I had my basic preps, I could snuggle close to the woodstove and read a good book. Sure beat driving in a snowstorm to take part in a shopping frenzy.
So you've got to ask yourself -are you treating prepping like a hobby, or a way of life?
You are prepping, aren't you?