As I say over and over to both new and experienced preppers, skills trump stuff. The more you know, the less you need to buy or carry with you. This knowledge also comes in handy should you need to improvise a solution to a problem.
The best part is, you can learn new skills without having to spend a ton of dough.
Tap the internet to learn new survival skills
Your first thought is probably, “I can learn it on the Internet.” Between blogs, YouTube, and sites like Instructables, you can learn just about anything you can imagine. However, there are a few other resources that are sometimes overlooked.
Your Local Library (Online Ones, too)
When was the last time you visited your local library? Not only are these vast repositories of knowledge, they frequently hold classes, taught by local experts, on a wide range of topics. Most of these classes are absolutely free to attend. Plus, they are great opportunities for networking with others who may be interested in prepping and such, depending upon the class topic. My library has had classes on such topics as worm composting, basic disaster readiness, and water bath canning.
And today, many libraries – including the Library of Congress – have an online component. Not only can you borrow e-books, but you can reserve items in advance and search to see if you need to go to a specific branch for the items you want. Just Google “online free public library” and check out the search results!
By the way, if you’ve developed an expertise in one area or another, maybe you could offer a class at your own library! Help spread the wealth of knowledge!
Parks and Recs Classes – Local and Beyond
Many municipal park and recreation departments also sponsor classes throughout the year. Some may be free, others require a small registration fee. As with the library classes, these are usually taught by local experts. Locally, I’ve seen classes in self-defense, backyard chickens, and seed preservation.
State and National Parks may also offer classes. We have a local state park that has regular geocaching and outdoor cooking/pioneering classes, among many other offerings.
If you have a college, university, or technical school in your area, contact them about auditing classes. For a reduced fee, you can attend the class and learn the material, even take exams, just like any other student in the class. The only difference is you won’t receive official credit for taking the class. Not all schools offer auditing but it is definitely worth the time to inquire. This could be an excellent way to learn advanced first aid skills, for example.
Family, Friends, and Neighbors
Don’t overlook family, friends, and neighbors as resources, too. Grandma Sally would probably be thrilled to spend an afternoon or two showing you how to can chili. If your neighbor built an excellent rain collection system, ask him if he’d be willing to show you how to do it for your house, possibly in exchange for a six-pack or maybe a pan of your famous lasagna.
Of course, all the learning in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t practice the skills regularly. The more often you do something, the more ingrained the knowledge will be in your brain. This leads to quicker recall under pressure, should it come to that.
What resources have you found for free or cheap in your area, online, or in your travels?