How Can We Entice Family and Friends to Become Preppers?

How Can We Entice Family and Friends to Become Preppers?

You know what it’s like. Prepping can sometimes be lonely business. If family and friends aren’t chiding you about it or laughing at you, they take little or no interest at all. But you care about them. And you’d like to see them prepare for their own good so they can face disasters and a coming collapse.

Here’s a little insight into the nature of the problem. You may recall a couple weeks back I shared observations from James Talmage Stevens, aka Doctor Prepper, when he was my guest on DestinySurvival Radio for June 7, 2012. He said there’s not as much interest in prepping as there has been in the past.

Today’s self reliance expos might draw a thousand people and maybe 50-100 vendors, but not like much larger expos in the ’70’s and before Y2K. I was surprised when he said that most expo attendees are middle aged and upward. Young families and single adults aren’t generally going to expos.

So where are they? Does that mean younger people aren’t getting prepared? Or does it mean they’re just not attending these shows? Are people not paying attention to the threats we’re facing?

Is there a way to motivate family and friends, especially younger people, to start prepping?

About three months back one of my readers suggested putting an ad in a major paper, like the New York Times, to make people aware. Around Easter time I wrote a post responding to that idea, which you can see here. In a nutshell, I think the best approach to stirring up people is one on one.

Carolyn Nicolaysen and I talked about this lack of interest in prepping and what can be done to get people motivated to prepare. Tuesday evening I was her guest on Ready or Not with Carolyn Nicolaysen. That’s her show on the Preparedness Radio Network, where you hear DestinySurvival Radio.

Yesterday afternoon before the show, I e-mailed DestinySurvival Dispatch subscribers to let them know about the show and to ask for opinions on what we might do. What follows are a few thoughts from both the e-mail responses and what Carolyn and I discussed. There was plenty of interest from chat room patrticipants during the show.

Carolyn and I talked a while about why more people aren’t prepping. Are they burned out on all that’s in the news these days? Are they in denial? Does it take a disaster like the fires in Colorado or the tropical storm and flooding in Florida to get people’s attention?

I think it could be each of those things to one degree or another. We’re living in a fragmented society. High tech gadgets and social media put us in touch with information, and I’m all in favor of being aware of what’s going on in our world and our local communities. But having knowledge doesn’t mean we’re wise. And, no, there’s not an app for everything.

Plus, no matter how hard we try, many people just won’t get it. Some will always be dreamers and avoid reality. Those who are more realistic make better prepping candidates.

As I’ve said before, the one thing I like about the Internet is that people will find what they’re searching for. You’re reading this now because you want to, not because it’s featured on a big news network. And believe me, DestinySurvival hasn’t been noticed by them.

For me that raises a few more questions. Are many people quietly getting the prepping info and products they need from the Internet? Are there more preppers than we realize, but they’re keeping their mouths shut about it?

I think the solution is not to cloak everything in the guise of preparedness. We preppers do believe it’s a lifestyle and an attitude, don’t we? Being indirect about it may be the best way.

As Gerald Franz said in an e-mail yesterday, “I have found that any approach that engenders fear is subject to being rejected…It seems that responses to preparing are in inverse proportion to the need. The greater the threat, the more the resistance.” Fear mmay stimulate some, but it will turn off others.

As an example of an indirect approach, does taking someone camping have to be all about prepping? What if it’s just plain fun? What if you show someone skills that will come in handy when we’re forced to live without modern conveniences? They’ll be prepared more than what they would have been without having gone camping.

What about the companies who sell storage food by having home parties? The advantages of having extra food that’s delicious and convenient to prepare count for something, even if preparedness isn’t stressed as the main point of having that storage food.

What about the moms who are catching on to the fact that our processed food is filled with unhealthful substances? More and more people are turning to gardening and canning as a result. Whether they realize it or not, they’re becoming prepared.

It seems to me we as preppers can become too burdened with proselitizing others into prepping. Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to see more people prepare for survival. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be working hard on this site and DestinySurvival Radio.

But if we’re enthused about what we’re doing, won’t that rub off on others? Put positive peer pressure into play. Shouldn’t we behave as if prepping is cool? Because it is, isn’t it?

Doesn’t leading by example and teaching those who will be taught count for something?

The word “destiny” is in this site’s name for a reason. Those who are meant to prepare and survive will do so. Sadly, we can’t do anything for those who don’t care or refuse to prepare.

What’s really at the heart of this is getting people to change. How can we do that?

I talked with Carolyn for a few minutes about a book I read recently called Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. I can’t spend much time on it here, but it’s an excellent resource for helping individuals and organizations or companies to make changes.

One of the things the book points out is the need to set small, specific, measurable goals. This is especially good advice when it comes to prepping because it can seem so overwhelming. You and I want to make things easier, not more burdensome for that person who we want to see get prepared.

What if we present little ideas and questions that are more readily solvable? Achieving small goals builds confidence. Take baby steps in moving from one idea or project to another.

As for a practical application, encourage your friend or loved one to take one thing at a time, whether it’s building a survival pantry or storm proofing their home. By the way, you can apply this baby step method, too, if you’re feeling pressured.

Another idea is to help people assume a new identity as preppers. In other words, is prepping cool? Is being prepared being a good citizen? Does it mean being a responsible adult who cares for his or her family?

Because we’re emotional beings, we need to feel something. All the reasoning in the world won’t always work. What if we emphasized the peace of mind and security one gets from being prepared? Are there object lessons to prove that point?

Carolyn suggested introducing prepping to a mother by raising the question of how the household would cope if she were ill during pregnancy. Shouldn’t there be food on hand to make it easier for the husband to prepare meals for the rest of the family?

Or what about appealing to a mother’s sense of wanting to protect her children? Couldn’t that motivate her to learn how to shoot a handgun? Lots of women are taking up shooting, and they’re doing it for self defense. They’re not labeling it as preparedness.

If we’re going to motivate others to prepare for survival, we should be cultivating relationships. One way to do this, though it sounds crass, is to look to others as resources. Your neighbor may know more about fixing cars than you do. You may know more about gardening than he does. How about exchanging information and skills? Then you can both benefit.

Carolyn and I also touched on the subject of giving gifts. For example, if you gave someone a first aid kit, they’d have it ready when they needed it. They might not appreciate it at first, but there may come a time when they will.

Janet Liebsch of It’s A Disaster! reminded me in an e-mail that they encourage distribution of their book through fundraising. Other companies, like, offer kits and other preparedness items as fundraisers. Possibilities abound for schools, churches, scouting groups, etc.

Carolyn said she hasn’t been successful with stirring up interest in such efforts. However, she’s involved with an innovative way to raise funds for nonprofit organizations. Find out more on her site at

Janet Liebsch also recommended checking out any teen CERT groups. Do that by going to

In spite of my negative comments about social media above, I agree with Carolyn that it’s a good idea to share little experiences and insights with others. Obviously, there is interest in Facebook, Twitter and the rest, and you just might plant a seed in someone’s mind.

You can hear more of my discussion with Carolyn by listening to Ready or Not with Carolyn Nicolaysen for June 26, 2012.

What do you think? How are you reaching out to others to motivate them to prepare? What got you into prepping? Did someone influence you in a positive way? If so, how? Leave a comment and let others know.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.

9 thoughts on “How Can We Entice Family and Friends to Become Preppers?”

  1. It’s like Christanity. My neighbors think I’m nuts because I believe in Christ and I prep. Hell my sons are the same. Everyone is so wrapped up and self absorbed they can’t see the long term. It’s me, me, now, now, now. So they won’t and don’t want to listen. But I suppose that’s good. Because they’ll have to barter with me or ask me to help them out. That’s good and then they’ll listen.

  2. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s that people have to want to change themselves. You cannot force others to what you think is right and especially not what you want. The best way is to lead by example.

    1. Excellent point. That’s why I phrased the title of the post as a question and used the word “entice.” The idea is that maybe we can create the “want to” so someone will make their own changes..

  3. I got into preping as sort of a game with myself…as a sort of Walter Mitty type of person and a great reader of adventure literature I had started to notice that The Backwoodsman magazine was carrying a lot of articles on..well..not survival per se but more how to conduct yourself, frugally usually, in a lost-in-the woods situation.
    Then I watched those poor folks in New Orleans trying to make their way, trash bags on shoulders, towards “salvation” at the Astrodome…
    Then I started to notice all the “prepper”sites on the internet, some more reasonable than others…..
    Then I started to hear about Europe’s financial troubles and how they could effect even us even in Maine…..
    Then I heard/read about the possibility of EMP and associated problems….,.
    Of course I had allways( I am 70 years old…)made sure I had SOME bottled water on hand but then I said to myself, “Why not more??”….
    Anyway, I am now sufficiently fixed with “iron” rations for three months, believing that, living in New England, downwind of all those U.S. Atomic power plants,it will be all I need.
    So what brought me to being a prepper, such as I am??? I would say,…common sense?? Or maybe, just part of the game of life????
    Maybe, maybe if people could be made to understand how very fragile life is……….

    1. Interesting. Yes. life is fragile. It’s by God’s grace that things hold together as they do.

  4. There are some young people who are prepping, (although they don’t call it that). One of my sons and his fiance are examples. Although politically they are at the opposite end of the spectrum from me, their motivation is sustainability, being good stewards of the land, and getting in touch with the source of food and other consumables. She makes her own cheese among other things. He’s a good cook and is interested in canning. To encouraging him I bought him a canner for his birthday. While visiting me in Idaho, he took home with him just one of each item that I had home canned. They live in Seattle where there are many like minded people to them. when we visited them my home canned foods were displayed as a decotation in their home!

    1. I’m glad to hear it. There’s plenty of cross over between prepping and environmentalism, so I hope there are more like your family members out there. Regardless of their political views, they’ll be more ready than those who aren’t doing anything.

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