Prepper Camp 2023: The Recap!

by Tommy Grant

After listening to Brian’s Mind4Survival podcast episode with Rick Austin, the founder of Prepper Camp, I just knew I had to go and experience it for myself. I had heard about it here and there over the years, but I had no idea of the scope of the event until I heard them discussing it on the air. This will be the 10th year for Prepper Camp. It lasts over three days and is packed full of classes from some of the greatest names in the preparedness field. Two thousand tickets are sold for each event. Sign me up!


After a minimal amount of begging, I convinced my adult daughter, who does not prep, to go along, and soon after, a good friend (and fellow pepper) was on board as well. Since we would have a long drive from Pennsylvania and were stopping to pick my friend up along the way, we opted not to tent camp in Orchard Lake Campground, where the event is held. While it would have added  to our skill sets and overall experience, I knew we would be rolling in late at night and would need to catch some shut-eye before the events began the next morning. My daughter and I have camped for many years, so I didn’t need to frustrate myself with a tent in the dark. I also didn’t want to have to pack up a campsite early in the morning and get a late start on the 14-hour ride home.

Ultimately, we opted for an Airbnb cabin in the same town as camp – Saluda, NC. It was more expensive than the campground, but waaaaay cheaper than three hotel rooms would have been. We all had our own bedrooms, and it was nice having two bathrooms for us all to get ready in the mornings.

Orchard Lake Campground

It was a ten-minute car ride from our accommodations, and parking was a breeze. There was a huge level area and plenty of people to direct you. My friend was recovering from an injury, so on the second day, they even allowed us to park in a designated handicap area towards the front of the lot.

Orchard Lake Campground exceeded my expectations even without seeing the camping area. The grounds were gorgeous, and the entire weekend took place lakeside. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer location. I’m pretty sure the campsites are lovely, too, as people were already lining up at the camp store to reserve their sites for 2024.

From the parking area, everything was just a short walk away. Once we had registered and received our event bracelets that we would need for the next three days, we were free to explore. The vendor area was constructed in a large U-shape, with the tents for prepper classes lined up at either end. A variety of food trucks were on hand, and there were bathrooms that were cleaned frequently in multiple locations.

Classes, Classes, Everywhere!

After stopping at the Mind4Survival tent to talk with Brian and fold a few M4S t-shirts for the booth, we were ready to tackle the class schedule. Each day, there were up to 64 different choices available. Each class lasted for one hour. A fifteen-minute break followed, and the next class began promptly after that. The schedule ran like clockwork, which is a huge testament to Rick’s organization. At all times, eight different lectures were occurring simultaneously, and they all began and ended with precision. Thanks to this, you were never late to your next class and were able to catch it all from the start.

The class schedule was identical over the three-day event, so you could take your top three choices in each time slot over the course of the conference. There was the potential for each ticket holder to take 21 classes over the weekend. Due to some late arrivals, early departures, and time spent in the vendor area, we were able to squeeze in 13 different classes. Here’s a brief overview and my favorite lesson from each.

Trauma Tools Workshop

with David Dietrich

As previously mentioned, my daughter is not a prepper. As a result, I wanted her to take all the classes she was most interested in, hoping to build her appreciation for the concept. She had never taken a trauma first-aid course before. As the mom of two small children of her own, I was excited when this made her list.

The instructor did a great job reviewing basic techniques and suitable applications for tourniquets, pressure bandages, clotting gauze, chest seals, and decompression needles. He also had a booth in the vendor area where we were able to stop and buy her an Israeli bandage to add to her kit at home as a start in the right direction.

Favorite Thing I Learned: Place the tourniquet above the elbow for a severe forearm bleed. The forearm has two bones, and the artery is between them.

Prepper Camp 2023

Foraging Wild Mushrooms

with Jonathan Glauser

I liked this class way more than I expected to. The thought of foraging mushrooms terrifies me. I’m convinced I’ll somehow pick the wrong thing and die instantly. Over the course of the hour, the teacher shared color photos on the large screen of each mushroom he was discussing. (All main tents had wide-screen TVs with easy-to-read PowerPoint presentations). He told us where they could be found during the different seasons. He informed us of the various medicinal benefits and let us know which ones had poisonous look-alikes and how to tell them apart.

Favorite Thing I Learned: Morel mushrooms have a poisonous look-alike. You can tell them apart because a Morel is hollow inside, and the deadly imposter is not.

Avoiding Abduction – Don’t Be The Victim

with Sara Hathaway

My daughter and I both absolutely loved this class. Sara is a great instructor. She’s animated and passionate about what she teaches. She talked at length about things we can do to avoid being abducted and gave tons of actionable tips on teaching children how to be more situationally aware. At her vendor booth, she passed out free whistles for anyone with kids. Children can then use those whistles to draw attention if they need help in an emergency. She demonstrated effective ways to get out of restraints, including duct tape, zip ties, and handcuffs.

Favorite Thing I Learned: Never go to a second location with an abductor. Let them shoot you where you stand. It’s better than what they’ll do if they take you.

REpairedness – The Art of Home Maintenance

with Toolman Tim

In this class, we learned about the advantages of being able to repair things yourself. Tim went over the basic items everyone should keep in their toolboxes, along with his personal “must-haves” to stock in case help is not on the way.

Favorite Thing I Learned: Store your safety gear with your tools. It’s too tempting not to go and get it if it isn’t already at your fingertips. You can’t afford to injure yourself during SHTF.

Psychological Warfare

with Hakim Isler

Hands down, this was the favorite class of everyone in my group. Hakim was in a military unit that dealt with psychological warfare and was eager to give us a rundown of the basics. We learned different psyop concepts that can be deployed, along with building credibility and methods we can use to inspire action. We also gained insight into understanding the Manipulation Triangle and how to re-evaluate the situation constantly.

After the lecture, my daughter purchased a children’s book on Ninja skills from Hakim’s vendor booth. He was kind enough to personalize a message to my grandson inside the cover.

Favorite Thing I Learned: “You need to set the conditions for people to make the choices you want them to make.”

Your Body Is A Weapon class with Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway at Prepper Camp 2023

Your Body Is a Weapon

with Sara Hathaway

We knew we wanted to take this course as soon as we finished Sara’s first course earlier in the weekend. She did not disappoint! A tiny woman herself, Sara demonstrated dozens of actionable techniques people can use to maneuver out of attack scenarios. She used her husband as the attacker to show us exactly what and why she did each move. The group was then able to split into pairs and practice for ourselves until we were comfortable.

Favorite Thing I Learned: “Knees before nuts.” Always try to hit an attacker’s knees from the front or side before trying to kick them in the groin. A hurt knee is far more disabling in the long run.

Unique & Efficient Every Day Carry

with Jan Emore

Jan shared a thorough review of her own every day carry items (EDC). She broke down what she was wearing and why. She also shared each item she keeps on her body at all times in case of emergency and her reasoning for choosing each item.

Favorite Thing I Learned: Keep a small roll-up 32 oz. water container with you. It is the perfect size for a single AquaTab.

S.E.R.E – Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape

with David Dietrich

Here we learned many of the basic military guidelines for resisting capture while focusing on survival. We also took notes on evasion and the importance of having a plan. Although the lessons seemed to come from a soldier’s standpoint, there were still lots of actionable items to take note of for potential everyday occurrences.

Favorite Thing I Learned: One of the main keys to survival is maintaining your core body temperature at all times.

Fire Starting

with Melvin Case

I’m no professional, but I can start a fire in several ways. Although I took my kids camping yearly, my daughter was not nearly as confident in her fire-making skill set. The instructor went over a variety of fire-starting tips and tricks and gave us a list of things to include in our basic fire-starting kits. We were all able to go to the front of the tent and practice our new skills with magnesium, striker, and Ferro rod. I was thrilled to see my girl pick up one of the important, basic SHTF skills.

Favorite Thing I Learned: When fire starting during windy conditions, make a tiny loop of duct tape for your magnesium shavings to stick to.

Digital Footprint – How Not To Be Tracked Online

with Resident Prepper

Great course with tons of actionable items for reducing your digital presence online. It went way beyond “use a VPN” and “Don’t use Alexa.” We learned how to adjust our privacy settings and how to have our information removed from websites. We also learned how to create an anonymous Amazon account using virtual email addresses, phone numbers, and credit cards. Lots of great information here.

Favorite Thing I Learned: Use Wayback Machine to search for old data that has since been removed from the internet.

Food Storage Feasting

with Debbie Davis

You could tell from the start that Debbie knows a thing or two about preserving food. The hour was filled with tips and tricks about food storage that she has learned over years of actually doing it herself. Whether you were new to cooking from a pantry or have been doing it for years, everyone learned something during this class.

Favorite Thing I Learned: When soaking older, dry beans before cooking, add 1 T. baking soda to the water.

Colloidal Silver

with Jonathan Glauser

I didn’t know much at all about colloidal silver heading into this class. It was fascinating to hear about the many medicinal uses for colloidal silver, and I appreciated that the instructor took his time to explain why some products were not as effective as others. Both my daughter and I came home with an eight oz. bottle to put in our medical kits.

I’m looking forward to learning more on the subject now that we are home.

Favorite Thing I Learned: Although many germs have become antibiotic-resistant, no germs have shown resistance to silver.

Hardening the Homestead – Home Fortification

with Instructor Wes

With only one timeslot left before the end of Prepper Camp, we didn’t want to miss this Home Fortification class. Like the others, it did not disappoint! We learned additional ways to have our information systematically removed from the internet. He shared tons of ideas for vehicle safety and delved deep into different kinds of barriers we can use for home defense and what items he prefers to use for his own protection.

Favorite Thing I Learned: Hide the VIN on your vehicle with an index card. Thieves can take a photo of it and have a duplicate key made with the information provided there.

Lakeside at Orchard Lake Campground in Saluda, NC

Lakeside at Orchard Lake Campground in Saluda, NC

Final Thoughts

I couldn’t have been more pleased with Prepper Camp if I had tried. I think my absolute favorite part of it was the overall vibe of the people who attended. Everyone was respectful and polite. You knew that you could trust the others around you. It felt like I was surrounded by good, traditional American citizens, if that even makes sense to anyone anymore. My daughter loved it, too. While she may not dive deep into prepping as a result of our adventure, she definitely came away with an arsenal of great information and skills that she can use over a lifetime in unlimited situations. All three of us decided we are definitely headed back next year. It was really a great time for everyone!

Were you at Prepper Camp 2023? What class did you love the most?

Additional Resources:


Read the full article here

Related Posts