Is there a distinction?
In my opinion, there actually is a difference between a prepper and a survivalist. Although, they both have the same goal in mind: to live their lives on this earth for as long as they possibly can. They both form a plan with a goal and set out to achieve their goals. Not every prepper or survivalist has the same plan, but they all have the same goal.
Preppers are usually defined as people who stock up on food and water to have in case long term emergencies, disasters, or other unforeseen events happen. They mostly plan on hunkering down in their homes should such an event occur. Some have goals of buying land and building a cabin, or developing a homestead (homesteaders); becoming completely self-reliant. Others just plan to stay where they are and make sure they have enough food, water, and resources to do so. Not all, but most will also have some type of firearm(s) or weapon(s) to protect themselves and their families.
When I first heard about prepping, I thought I had to plan to live off the land (or live off grid). I soon realized that was not a possibility for me in my current situation. So, I began doing what I could and began storing up food and necessities for an emergency situation, along with putting together a Bug out Bag. Quite honestly, that's how most preppers/survivalists begin their journey.
When you think of preppers, what do you see in your mind? Some backwoods hillbilly family from the deep South? Maybe someone like Phil Robertson from the t.v. series Duck Dynasty? Or perhaps you envision hippy-like people living in a commune. Yes, there are some extremists in the prepping world, but the reality of it is that most preppers are just normal people like you and me. Not that I've ever been accused of being normal, lol. Take for instance that cashier at the grocery store...she could be a prepper. Or the lady who leads the women's group at church...she could be a prepper. How about your pastor? Your co-worker? Your brother-in-law? I'm sure you get the point.
Like everything else it seems, society has put a label on preppers (and survivalists). I think that tends to make us a tad bit fearful of being labeled. But, there's nothing to be fearful of, really. After all, the human race were all preppers at some point in history. It used to be not only acceptable in society, but expected. So, rest assured, there is no need to fear being a prepper. In fact, it can be compared to being a believer in Jesus. If, in the end, you find out He wasn't real and you believed, what have you lost? You believed and led a good life, how could that be considered a loss? On the other hand, if you didn't believe and you found out He was real what have you lost? The same concept goes along with prepping. If you prepare and nothing happens, what have you lost? Especially if you rotate your long term food storage; you've stored food and you've eaten the food you stored. On the other hand, if some catastrophe does happen and you weren't prepared, what have you lost? Possibly your life and the lives of your family. I know I've said this in other articles, but think of it as house insurance, health insurance, vehicle insurance, even a fire extinguisher. Prepping is merely a type of food insurance. Insurance that no matter what happens you and your family will have food.
Survivalists have more of the "bug out" mentality than preppers. They learn, train, and practice living in the wilderness. Then they use those skills and spend time honing them. Thus, they are labeled survivalists. We're all survivalists in the sense that we all have an inbred need and desire to survive. But, being a survivalist is taking that frame of mind to the next level. They are making sure that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to survive in a world gone bad. They are ready to actually use that knowledge and those skills if and when they are needed. They know how to build a shelter, how to forage in the woods for food, how to hunt for food, how to find water, and how to protect themselves (and their families) from both man and wildlife in the wilderness. Survivors also know that they need to be in good physical and mental condition. They have to be in order to truly survive.
So, when you think of survivalists what do you see in your mind? Do you see Sylvester Stallone in the roll of Rambo? Maybe Mick Dodge, National Geographic's The Barefoot Sensei? Or perhaps you envision The Doomsday Preppers? Well, take a look at the guy in the next cubicle over. Or, the person in the seat behind you in church. What about the guy on your church's security team? How about the veteran neighbor down the street? And that nurse at your doctor's office? Yes, they could all be survivalists. They don't necessarily look any different than those who are around them. They just have a different frame of mind from most.
Sometimes a prepper will evolve into a survivalist. They will feel they need to do more than store up food and necessities. They realize there may come a time when they might have to leave the safety of their home, because their home is no longer safe. When they feel that need or come to that realization, they will begin to prepare themselves to be ready for that moment. There are some, usually someone with a military background, or someone who grew up learning survival skills, who don't necessarily evolve and jump right into the role of being a survivalist. They take that leap and make the decision to go for it, not wanting to wait around for something to happen, and they go off the grid. They want to be already established, prepared and ready for what may come. A true survivalist is very strong mentally and physically; they are prepared to face whatever the world throws at them.
I see nothing wrong with being a survivalist. In fact, I envy them. When the SHTF they will be the most prepared to live in a time when the world as we know it has ended. So, if you are a survivalist wanna be, make sure that you take that step and truly begin to prepare yourself. Don't wait until it's too late, thinking you will go out there and survive in the wilderness when you've lived your whole life in the city or the suburbs. I'm sure there are many survivalists who walk among us. They are, however, trained, experienced, mentally and physically prepared, and ready for when the time comes.
I for one am a fence rider. I'm a prepper and I do have some (not much) survival skills. I learned some skills when I used to spend a lot of time camping (in a tent in the woods), fishing, and enjoying the outdoors. I know how to build a camp fire, how to cook on it, and basically how to live in the outdoors. However, when I did these things, I always had the convenience of driving the vehicle to the campsite, with a cooler that had food in it ready to throw on the grill, my cell phone to keep in touch with family, and matches for lighting the camp fire. You see, even though I have "some" survival skills, I am no way, no how, ready to tackle wilderness living. I might be able to live a few days longer than someone with no survival skills whatsoever, but that isn't going to do me much good. So, I want to move on to learn more about surviving in the wilderness. I want to get out there and experience it, so I will know what to do should I ever find myself in that predicament.
What will you do? Will you make a decision to begin prepping? Will you decide to take prepping to the next level and learn how to live and survive in the wilderness? Only you can make that decision for yourself. Don't be afraid of what your family, friends or neighbors will think because they just might be a prepper or a survivalist too.
Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!
Disclaimer: This blog article is based solely my point of view; the way I see it. My point of view is based on the study and research I have done regarding prepping over the past couple of years. I'm certainly no expert on the subject, and I will be the first to tell you that. Others may not agree entirely with me on this subject. And, that's okay, as I said, this is the way I see it. You have that same freedom as I do...to believe how you want to believe.