I joined, not too long ago, a pre­pared­ness meet­up group in North­ern NJ. There seem to be only a few of us that are reg­u­lars and show up once a month to the meet­ing.  There are var­i­ous oth­er mem­bers of the group that may make it depend­ing on their sched­ules or not.  One of the ideas we had, was of course, to test our gear and our heads for a “Bug Out Week­end.” What is the def­i­n­i­tion of this bug out week­end?  Well, it goes a lit­tle like this:

  • This is a sim­u­lat­ed test.  The test dic­tates that on a Fri­day morn­ing (most like­ly), there is some sort of man made or nat­ur­al dis­as­ter where you must aban­don your home for what could be a tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent peri­od of time.  You won’t know for at least 72 hours.  You will meet at the ren­dezvous point with the “team” and make your way to area “X” on foot to make base camp for a few days until things set­tle down and we can head home to assess the sit­u­a­tion.  

That is the loose sce­nario, here is the cri­te­ria the leader of the meet­up group and I had come up with over lunch that must be adhered to by the group before and dur­ing the week­end.  You will notice there will be some struc­ture to it in places and oth­ers will look like action items before the week­end occurs.

First, some cri­te­ria:

  • Those that want to par­tic­i­pate must have been at the meet­up meet­ing (in the future) where we dis­cuss and plan this event. If they can­not make it they must inform the leader of the meet­up group ahead of time.
  • Some­one who has been out camp­ing or hik­ing before.  Inex­pe­ri­ence out­side in Octo­ber or Novem­ber will not be a good thing. The weath­er gets cold at night, and if you do not know how to pre­pare for that you will be a lia­bil­i­ty to the team/group
  • Some­one that is will­ing to par­tic­i­pate.  There will be a team leader, and tasks will be assigned to each team mem­ber for the good of the team.  You must be will­ing to per­form what is asked of you or the whole team suf­fers.
  • Some­one who has their own gear and sup­plies.  I think this goes with­out say­ing.  If your Bug Out Bag is lack­ing and some­one has extra gear, I am sure they may share as a team, how­ev­er, if you do not have an ade­quate BOB, let’s deter­mine that one up front so that you can sup­ple­ment it before head­ing out
  • Some­one not squea­mish.  This is for those that do not want to eat small game for din­ner… In the bush, there’s no gro­cery store to find your steak in.  Rab­bit and squir­rel do not have a bar code that gets scanned and mirac­u­lous­ly show up butchered for din­ner.
  • Must be able to par­tic­i­pate for the full term of the week­end.  The week­end will be from Fri­day — Sun­day.  Many will prob­a­bly have to take part of Fri­day off or all of Fri­day if they wish to par­tic­i­pate.  If they can­not we are going to try to give each team mem­ber GPS coor­di­nates of the ren­dezvous fall back loca­tion and the Bug Out Loca­tion so they can trek in after us if that is the case.  If the weath­er is cold, know how to dress for the cold.
  • Bring a list of your BoB items for review and dis­cus­sion for sup­ple­ments. to the next Meet­up Meet­ing
  • Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.  Com­mu­ni­ca­tion will be impor­tant, so bring your FMRS radios and we will set the chan­nel for dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. i.e. nor­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tions, secu­ri­ty, etc.

To Do List before we can make this week­end hap­pen:

  • We need to choose a date (week­end) for this test and NOT devi­ate from it.
  • We need to choose the location(s) of the week­end, both base camp and ren­dezvous point.  We decid­ed to try to keep the loca­tion with­in an hour or so dri­ve of north­ern NJ if we can.
  • Time Slot.  From the time you get the “phone call” that says it’s “go time” you will have 60 — 180 min­utes to get to the ren­dezvous point.
  • Cost.  If we plan on using state prop­er­ty, there may be a charge per per­son or for the group to ‘camp’ in the state park.… Of course, if this were a real emer­gency, that may not be the case, but in this case if we end up on state land, we want to abide by as many rules as we can…

Skill/Task list that will be assigned to one or more mem­bers of the group:

  • Fire
  • First Aid
  • Food Har­vest­ing / Hunt­ing (Where Nec­es­sary) and Food Stor­age if required.
  • Water (find­ing a source and find­ing a way to store ample water for the team)

Dai­ly Con­sid­er­a­tions

  • Weath­er.  I sug­gest we have this week­end, rain or shine… But that is just me…
  • Gath­er­ing fire­wood
  • Gath­er­ing food
  • Secu­ri­ty.  Night­ly secu­ri­ty watch for two hours per team mem­ber is manda­to­ry.  Sleep depri­va­tion is a real­is­tic side affect of bug­ging out and stay­ing alert will be impor­tant.  You should feel the affects of the sleep depri­va­tion dur­ing the week­end to under­stand the real­ism of what you are test­ing.

Real / Nat­ur­al Threats

  • Black Bear
  • Coy­ote (pos­si­bil­i­ties are slim, but they are a con­sid­er­a­tion)
  • Rat­tle Snake and Cop­per­head if it is not too cold or too hot for them to be out.


  • We dis­cussed no alco­hol, and state prop­er­ty may dic­tate that, how­ev­er, there are mul­ti­ple con­sid­er­a­tions for this restric­tion.  First, the mem­bers of the group do not know each oth­er all that well yet, and alco­hol is an added vari­able we do not want, and again it may be against the rules… We will see as we dis­cuss.   A small flask may be okay, but we do not want drunk­ards with us in the field.

Oth­er con­sid­er­a­tions:

  • Air­soft.  To add a lev­el of addi­tion­al weight bear­ing equip­ment, and lev­el of pseu­do-real­ism, if you have Air­soft rifles and/or pis­tols I sug­gest you take them with you as you will get the expe­ri­ence of trav­el­ing on foot while hav­ing to hold and main­tain your weapon, so to speak.
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