Chapter 3 – Finding Priceless Moments


Remember the Meme on Pinterest that I talked about in the first chapter? It showed a Prius at the top of the image, and at the bottom a Jeep in the desert sitting on the crest of a hill, in front of a sunset. A guy and his kids are in the Jeep enjoying the sun setting in this majestic place. The closing message of the meme said, “Your kids will never, ever remember you getting fifty-five miles per gallon. However, they will remember the night you watched the sun set over the mountains.” Let’s talk about some camping basics today.

Check out my books on camping

Why go camping today?

Because there will never be another today. In the Prius Meme, the point is that things don’t matter, experiences matter. Perhaps you can make a daily drive fun with some singing or frivolity. Or perhaps ride to the top of a mountain to watch a sunset. Those are the priceless moments to chase after. I encourage you to get out and enjoy life. Not everything has to be constrained, and I think in many ways that’s what camping is all about.

Don’t allow challenges to get in the way.

When you consider camping, there can be challenges: you might get rained on, it could be extremely hot or cold, the bugs might be extra annoying, dry kindling may be hard to find, etc. But, at the end of the day, the goal is to build memories. There are only so many opportunities to go camping with your children or your spouse or even take a solo trip. Right now it seems as though you have all the time in the world, but you really don’t. Your kids will be in college or active in other things before you know it. So grab those moments while you can.

The experience matters, not the stuff.

Someone who had a very nice late-model sedan asked about my Jeep. He indicated that if only he had an off-road vehicle, he would try camping. Why go camping if you can’t go trail-riding, he said. That’s the wrong attitude. True, driving on thirty-five inch tires with a four inch lift and a bunch of modified stuff is great. It’s nice when you’re riding around on a spring day with no top and you’ve got no doors. But you can still create those priceless memories by rolling down your windows and opening your moon roof.

Persevere.

The trick with camping is that you can find yourself in a rugged situation, for example it might rain the whole weekend leaving you nothing to do but play cards in the tent, or after rain from the first night all the kindling is wet and you can’t start a fire, maybe an animal got into your food supply and now you have nothing to eat. It doesn’t matter what happens, the secret is in how you handle the situation.

Don’t give up, persevere. Sometimes camping makes no apologies. Your skills might be tested, but I am going to promise you that you will still have opportunities, even on those off weekends, of making solid memories. You might be sitting around the campfire or hiking or hearing the coyotes howl or watching the sun set or building a fire with your child—those priceless moments can’t be bought so grab a hold of them.

Keep a look-out for memories of a lifetime.

Keep your outlook fun and positive because you can’t predict when memories will be created. But trust me, your kids will remember and they’ll tell their children about these special times one day. Just put yourself in a good situation to have those moments. They may occur in your Prius getting forty-five miles per gallon because of the song you sang. Or perhaps when you’re sitting on top of the mountain and out of your element as you watch in fear as a bear ambles by. Be available and put yourself in situations to achieve those priceless moments.

Coming up, we’re going to look at convenient, low-cost, low-pain, and low-suffering ways to be in a good situation to discover joy. By attaining that joy, you get those memories that will live on because you taught the next generation skills. And one day, your kids will not only pass along the skills to their children but will share their childhood priceless moments around a roaring campfire.

Chapter 2 – Types of Camping

Check out my books on camping

There are many different levels of engagement when you’re camping. Anywhere between an epic adventure like Man vs. Wild or perhaps one where more creature comforts are brought from home. Either is fine as long as you can physically pull it off and afford it. The goal is to have a good time and enjoy your time. For me, I like to camp with a tent, I’m not an RV guy. I don’t mind taking a shower on the side of the mountain or backpacking in. Sometimes the best way to really see and experience a location is to backpack to the camping site. But, say my wife joins me, she prefers a larger tent, more organization, more creature comforts. If Connie’s coming, then what we bring changes and where we stay may change. For both of us to have an enjoyable time, compromises need to happen. Let’s talk about some different options.

Live off the land for a weekend.

One option would be to head out into the woods with a knife, some tinder, flint and steel, a waterproof jacket, and a wool blanket. The idea is to live off the land for a weekend. If you’ve got the skills to do it and you enjoy that level of difficulty, go and have fun! There are certainly people that thrive on this primitive I’m-gonna-figure-out-as-I-go-build-me-a-lean-to-in-the-woods-and-feel-close-to-nature type of thing. However, keep in mind your skills and your traveling companions. For example, if you are taking your five-year-old daughter and wife who have never been camping, it would be wise to rethink the details otherwise the trip will end quickly. And, the ride home will be the squirmy kind of uncomfortable.

Purchase an expensive RV for camping.

Another option is to head to your local RV store and buy a half-million dollar motor-home, don’t forget your checkbook. Now, you’re probably laughing and about to fall off the couch right now as most people don’t have that kind of money to invest in a hobby. Or perhaps you have the type of disposable income to make this dream come true. With an RV, you could spend a year driving around the United States. If so, enjoy yourselves and send me a postcard.

But honestly, most of us don’t have the means to pay for a million dollar motor home. So as we look at other forms of camping, be aware of what you can afford. If you want to participate in the RV lifestyle but don’t want to buy one, then consider renting one for your trip.

Camping shouldn’t involve stress over money.

Because stressing over money doesn’t equal fun, keep the scope of your camping trip and equipment in-line with your income. If you have to save for a hundred-dollar tent, instead buy the fifty-dollar option and choose the contingency of camping close to home in case a catastrophe happens so you can head home easily. People can enjoy different levels of camping, regardless of their financial ability. Also, consider borrowing supplies from family, friends, or neighbors. Once you decide you want to invest in pieces, you’ll know better what works for you.

Survivor Man versus backpacking.

These are two extremes. One is to hike the Appalachian Trail maybe something similar to doing the Survivor Man thing for five to seven months. For that epic trip, you’ll need to delve into other books to succeed. For this book, let’s talk about backpacking. That means you have what you need on your back, and you’re going some distance. It may be the whole length of the Appalachian Trail; but more likely it’s something like four miles through your local woods.

With backpacking, everyone will bring what they need for the jaunt in their pack. The goal is to have a lightweight and comfortable backpack and equipment that doesn’t weigh much. Consider eating dehydrated food as it is light. If you don’t take these suggestions into consideration you’ll end up hauling a fifty-pound pack instead of a twenty pound one for miles and miles. Trust me, the weight on your back will make a difference with each step. Backpacking isn’t for everyone and may be difficult to pull off with your family in tow, especially if this is the first camping trip.

Car-camping.

This is pretty simple. All the things you need are in your car and you drive to the campsite. You unload a popup shelter or tent and a sleeping bag. You might have kitchen items to cook by the fire or you may choose to eat at local restaurants. Whether you build a fire or not, you’re experiencing the version of camping that works for you, so embrace it. I highly recommend this for your first outing, especially if you have a family.

Supplies for backpacking versus car camping.

Personally, I think there’s a good chance you will enjoy the outdoors. Which means that eventually you will end up with two setups—one for backpacking and the other for car camping. Backpacking provisions need to be ultra-light, whereas supplies for car camping can be bulky and perhaps less expensive.

Advancing further.

You’ve got to right-size your trip with what your family wants so that camping is a successful experience. You may need to take several simple car-camping trips before progressing further. Or, your group may be content with this simplest kind of adventure. But, maybe it grows into more. Perhaps add a campfire to the next trip, or cooking over the open flame, or a longer more involved hike. The trick is that if it’s a family thing, go slow and let everybody ask for more so they don’t feel forced. I have found the biggest objection about camping is that people don’t want to get out of their comfort zone.

Car glamping.

Which means bringing every creature comfort from home. There are different levels of glamping. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I glamp when we go to our place in the mountains because of the luxury items we haul with us. The over-the-top items we could bring are a super-big tent, which we’ll talk about later, a flat screen, an Xbox, a generator, maybe some gilded throw pillows. I’m sure you’ve heard of the glamping sites where you can go live in a tent that’s a lot like your house. They can even have air-conditioning!

Economy glamping.

Connie and I go “economy glamping.” We bring a ten by twenty feet tent. My choice would be much smaller, but it’s all about compromise. I want her with me and happy, so we’ve figured out what each party needs to feel comfortable for a weekend. That includes an inflatable mattress. We don’t wear shoes in the tent, which keeps it much cleaner. There is a small area designated for shoes and dirty clothing. We also have a cozy spot to sit down. These are things we do to make the clean up easier and the space more comfortable. Given these conditions, Connie will gladly come camping with me.

With a big tent, you have room for an air-mattress. In fact, a big tent will usually allow everyone to sleep under the same roof, which goes a long way to a good night’s slumber for all. The more comfortable you can make camping for your loved ones, the better the chance that your kids will want to have epic, hard-core adventures in the future.

Camping without camping, is it possible?

What works for your family? You can always stay in a hotel or a bed-and-breakfast that’s close by to your activities and then do day trips. I’ll argue that you’re not camping per se, but those day hikes and discovering waterfalls, will still get you outdoors. It will allow you to spend quality time with loved ones and set yourself up for those priceless moments with your family. If staying in a hotel and having day time adventures works, then do it!

What will work for you?

As you can see, there is a vast range of options for camping. Are you an RV kind of guy where you plug in at a campsite with power and air-conditioning and running water? Perhaps it’s going to be something simple, where you have a tent and minimal equipment and eat at restaurants. Or maybe you’ll go for something in between. There’s no wrong answer as long as you’re getting everyone outdoors and create those family memories.

What are my goals and intentions?

As you can see, the camping experience can span quite a range from a tent and a sleeping bag, to many of the creature comforts of home. Ask yourself:

  • Where’s your comfort zone?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • How much effort do you want to exert?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • How much time do you want to be at the site?

Getting everyone together to create memories.

The goal is you want to get your family outdoors and allow everybody to have a great time. Depending on if you choose an RV, a pop-up, or a tent, may or may not affect whether or not you have that priceless moment. I think with an RV you’re a little more separated from things. But people have different comfort zones. If the only way you can get your people to camp is to rent a pop-up or an RV for the weekend, then do what you need to do. You’re achieving some of your goal, everybody’s having a great time, and you’re creating family memories, which make it all worth it.

Don’t feel pressure if camping is new to you.

There’s no pressure to be Mr. Outdoors. Because if you’re the kind of person who has never been in the wilderness before, no one would expect you to build a fire with flint and steel and some cotton you pulled out of your pocket. Feel free to use matches. Keep it simple when you build your first fire, and maybe even your tenth. Later on we’ll talk about some of these other skills. But, my goal here is to give perspective on your different options.

Most of my camping experiences revolve around family trips or Boy Scouts. As a result this book really focuses on family camping. However, the same principles, skills, and knowledge apply to a single person or family. Maybe you are a single man or woman who wants to experience camping for the first time. You could be a widow or widower, or newly divorced. There are many people in lots of different situations that head out to enjoy camping. This book spends a lot of time talking about family interactions and considerations, but the skills and knowledge apply to a variety of life circumstances. If you don’t want to go by yourself, then consider joining an outing club. It’s a great way to go with a group and enjoy the camping experience.

Build up your skill set.

You may need new outdoors skills. Or perhaps it’s time to teach those techniques to your kids or spouse. You never know when you need to build a fire. Your car may break down in a place that has no cell service and the only thing to keep you alive overnight is to build a fire. Does this happen to everybody? No. But, the simple ability of building a fire could be a lifesaver. One reason to continue to camp regularly is to keep our skill set sharpened. This gives peace of mind and boosts confidence. Learning outdoor knowledge improves self-reliance that translates to other areas of life. These regular camping trips build a happier, well-adjusted, better-prepared-for-life family member who is more available to partake in those priceless moments.

It’s not a question of how rugged someone is. The question is what they want. Some people at different points in their lives simply don’t want to spend the weekend working hard outside doing camping stuff. Sometimes you want the fun component and not the work part. So instead of a tent and open flame cooking, they might choose an RV and restaurant food. Or perhaps they’d rather do something at home that weekend.

Compromise.

There are trips when Connie doesn’t come because I am hunting and I’m fine with that. Sometimes it’s nice to be on a solo trip, or a trip with the guys. It’s an opportunity to go with a smaller tent and do different activities. The point is to keep the perspective that there are a lot of ways to get a win out of camping—backpacking, economy glamping, hunting backpacking are just three. They all have their pluses.

First trip could be a solo one.

If you are unsure about camping for the first time with the entire family, then consider just going solo, or with your spouse. Then bring the kids on the next trip Camping can be enjoyed in lots of different scenarios from the whole family going, or individuals without children going solo (or with a group), or situations where only one parent takes the kids.

The key is to figure out what works for you, at this time in your life, with whoever is going camping with you. Don’t feel pressured to be Mr. REI, because that won’t make you happy and it isn’t what your loved ones are looking for. Kids are seeking quality time spent with Mom and Dad. Your spouse is looking for the same thing. Leave your pride and ego at home. Camping is about those priceless moments.

Church Men’s Group Brainstorming Session

A local church wants to develop a community of men through events that resonate with the community and meet the needs of local men and also men within the church. After some mens events that really didn’t gain traction in the church, the next step was conduct a brainstorming session and solicit ideas from men in the church.

Step 1 – Define the challenge to solve

The event was driven by the main challenge question

How might we build a community that engages men?

The group also considered these specific questions

1) What type of activities help build that community?
2) What activities engage men and build community?
3) What are men missing in daily life in our area and group?

Step 2 – Idea Buckets

The idea buckets help give participants an idea of the possible scope of ideas (while not limiting the scope). Creating a mindmap is a great way to quickly create a framework of buckets. Here are the buckets for this session

Step 3 – Brainwriting

The group spent the next 20 minutes doing brainwriting. We separated and individually wrote down ideas on sticky notes. At the end of the 20 minutes we came together as a group and posted the sticky notes on the wall. Then each participant shared a brief explanation of the ideas generated with the group.

Step 4 – Time to Brainstorm

The brainwriting time helped everyone move into a creative frame of mind without the pressures of having to generate ideas in front of the group. Now, it is time to generate ideas on the fly with the group and capture them on sticky notes.

Step 5 – Vote and Expand

At the end of the session, each participant had 3 votes to allocate to any of the ideas. The votes could all be on one idea or on multiple ideas.

Then it was time for the group to expand on the top ideas and capture those concepts.

We came up with a lot a great results. These are the raw ideas without refinement.

IdeaAdditional InfoVotes
Meat cookoffCould be game or domestic or fish, but an emphasis on game, possibly in church parking lot, almost like tailgating3
Time to just talkBuilding relationships through conversation and quantity of time spent together
Deep fellowshipBuilding deeper interpersonal relationships
More friendsBuilding a community of men who crave more friends
Friendship skillsDevelop skills to build lasting friendships
Spiritual growthGrowth through understanding and practice
Regular times to chatRegular and down-to-earth and honest conversation
Mens bible study
Financial / money mgmt classesMaybe based on Dave Ramsey or Rich Dad / Poor Dad approach
Borrow-a-grandfatherGreat way to pass skills down to the younger generation
Bitcoin class
Help for deployed dads
Borrow a dadSupporting kids who have a missing or deployed dad
Musical skills group
Widower support group
Newly married mens support group
Expecting kids mens support group
Support group for men with estranged children
Men helping shut ins, elderly or others needing help
Father – son eventProviding a step in dad for kids without a strong male presence
Game cleaning eventLearn to clean deer, fish, squirrel, etc
Chicken cleaning eventLearn to process chicken
Chicken keeping eventLearn to keep chickens for eggs or meat
Fishing tournamentCould be boat, shore or pier
Pier fishing dayCould be a lake or ocean
Camping weekendCould be just recreational or also teaching camping and bushcraft skills
Confidence for men
High adventure skills for men
End of year meal for teachers
Men prepare meal for first responders and vets
Learn to garden day
Farm day – learn about life on the farmAlso include farming skills. Maybe show where food comes from
Memory games
Grandfather skillsteaching skills to other men or kids
Church wide turkey shoot
Big game nightSuperbowl?
Farm-to-fork or garden-to-fork dinner
Wonderful wednesday – eat / group bible study
Mens discussion groupVarious topics – no women allowed
Insight into world events meeting / events2
Comedy hour
Shooting instructionLearn how to shoot
Cookout
Outdoors
Understanding wives events
Shared experience / talents
Go fishing
Cook breakfast
Car showHave it in the church parking lot1
Reloading classLearning to reload ammunition
CCW classSponsor a class at the church, could bring in lots of new faces
Gun safety classSponsor a class at the church, could bring in lots of new faces
Hunter safety classSponsor a class at the church, could bring in lots of new faces
Golf outing(s)
Men’s night at concerts, going out to eat, watch game
Current events event
Food and fellowship
Play pickup basketball
Divorce care group
Child custody and family court support group
Understand red pill philosophy
Mr nice guy forum / training / recoveryHow to break free
Breakout of imposter syndrome groupHow to break free
Port accountability group
Interface with CERTLocal community emergency response group
Build a meshtastic network for emergency communcations
Emergency communications group
Gardening / farming group
Adventure groupCamping / offroad / hiking
Food pantryHyperlocal, maybe one individual at a time
Alternatives for TV i.e. hobbies / activites
Gather food for local food banks
Men’s retreat
Go to a shooting range
Sport / entertainment viewing
Look to mentor youth
Have a big game night (harvest while hunting or fishing or trapping)Cook and eat the game or fish
Supplies for local schools
Look for ways to help elderly or handicappedMaybe build wheel chair / walker ramps
Flag football
Bible study or bible series
Breakfast
Volunteer / community work
Saturday at your houseGroup spends one Saturday helping a member of the group
Invite them
Community outreach
Manual labor2
Talk about it
Community athletics
Mission trips (youth involvement)
Weekend events

Honey from the Farm

We have honey ready to ship or for local pickup. We are so excited. This honey is raw and from our farm. This is the first time we’ve ever had honey for sale. Contact us for local pick up or visit here for honey shipped to your door.

8 ounce jar of honey
8 ounce jar of honey

16 ounce jar of honey

Camping on the Farm

It was nice to have a weekend where we just enjoyed camping on the farm, without working. The grilled creation was cooked over the fire in the black cast iron cookers. The shell was made of corn dog roll with hot dogs, chili and onions inside. Tasty!

The Mayapples are growing. We never get any of the fruit because the critters always beat us to it.

You can camp on the farm too, just visit

https://www.hipcamp.com/en-US/land/north-carolina-simply-us-farm-and-camping-retreat-zwjhp868

State of the Farm and Pictures from This Week

This has been a busy week on the farm. We try to give a semi-annual update that talks about what is going on at the farm in detail. We’ve also been working this week on our potatoes, developing the back field and planting a few ornamental plants.

I had a few days on the farm this week to ponder the future plans for the farm. I’m taking a class with IDEO on Insights for Innovation. The class project revolves around the farm so it was good having time to ponder the future plans for the farm while working in the field.

Here are some pictures from this week

Interview with Niti Bali – Food Church founder

I’m taking a class called “Insights for Innovation” with IDEO. Part of that class is doing interviews for developing empathy and better understanding customers. Niti was the perfect person to interview to better understand the farm-to-fork community. I learned a lot in the interview and hope you do too.

Rough Draft – CERT Emergency Communications Plan

The work on the emergency communications plan is moving forward. Our plan covers two main contingencies:

  • team is deployed to an emergency site
  • team is not deployed but there is an emergency

One of our team goals is put ourselves in a position where we can help the broader community during a wider emergency, such as a grid down situation after a hurricane or power station sabotage (like the next county over went through in 2022).

This plan is a step towards achieving those goals. Later phases of plan development should help address the communications divide between the CERT team and the greater community. These later phases should also incorporate some of the great ideas that were generated in the brainstorming / brainwriting work.

The rough draft of the plan is below. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Lee County CERT Team – Communications Plan
Rough Draft – dated 2023-03-18

Deployed Comms

At time of muster, team members will be assigned to a group and a backup group based on available communications tools and radios.

At time of muster, team members will also be assigned a cell phone number for a command staff member, where they can confirm the communication channel they should be using. This communication should occur via text message. This cell number can also be used to short messages between command staff, as needed. Primary communication method is radio communication.

Teams Communications

Priority 1 (Group 1) — Zello Channel – “Lee County Emergency Response Team”

Priority 2 (Group 2) – HAM Radio using the KB4HG repeater – 441.9500 / +5 MHz / 136.5 Tone

Priority 3 (Group 3) – MURS channel #3 (151.94 MHz)

Priority 4 (Group 4) – GMRS / FRS channel #15 (462.55 MHz) [Note: limited FRS range]

Priority 5 (Group 5) – CB channel #22

(Backup) Priority 1 – No backup, go to other group

(Backup) Priority 2 (Group 2) – HAM Radio using the NC4ML – 147.240 / +5 MHz / 91.5

(Backup) Priority 3 (Group 3) – MURS channel #5 (154.60 MHz)

(Backup) Priority 4 (Group 4) – GMRS / FRS channel #17 – 462.60 MHz [Note: limited FRS range]

(Backup) Priority 5 (Group 5) – CB channel #24

Note: Group 2 – If both HAM repeaters are not available, switch to Simplex 146.58 FM


Command Communications
Priority 1 (Group C1) — Zello Channel – “Lee County Emergency Response Team – Command”
Priority 2 (Group C2) – HAM Radio using Simplex 144.400

Priority 3 (Group C3) – MURS channel #2 (151.88 MHz)

Priority 4 (Group C4) – GMRS / FRS channel #19 (462.65 MHz) [Note: limited FRS range]

Priority 5 (Group C5) – CB channel #21

(Backup) Priority 1 – Use command text message number to ask which alternate group to use

(Backup) Priority 2 (Group 2) – HAM Radio using Simplex 144.800

(Backup) Priority 3 (Group 3) – MURS channel #4 (154.57 MHz)

(Backup) Priority 4 (Group 4) – GMRS / FRS channel #21 (462.70 MHz_ [Note: limited FRS range]

(Backup) Priority 5 (Group 5) – CB channel #23

Non-deployed Comms [used during emergency situation where CERT team isn’t deployed]

Use the following communications channels on the schedule below with a wilderness protocol (seeking to minimize power use in case the grid is down):

  • text message to designated contact
  • Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 (Carolina Trace local area), Group C1, Group C2
  • other groups activated in an extended emergency to provide greater footprint in community

    Note: number of groups is minimized to reduce the amount of time the command staff has to communicate with team members.
PurposeGroupDayTime
OrientationEmail or text message from command to start comm protocol, or event / emergency to trigger start, includes emergency text message contact number

Daily Check-In
(first 3 days only)
Group 1 – ZelloDaily07:00 PM

Group 2 – HAM RadioDaily07:15 PM

Group 3 – MURS (local to Carolina Trace area)Daily07:30 PM

Group C1 – ZelloDaily06:15 PM

Group C2 – HAM RadioDaily06:30 PM
Weekly Check-InGroup 1 – ZelloSunday07:00 PM

Group 2 – HAM RadioSunday07:30 PM

Group 3 – MURS (local to Carolina Trace area)Sunday08:00 PM

Group C1 – ZelloSunday06:00 PM

Group C2 – HAM RadioSunday06:30 PM
Daily Monitoring
(4th day and beyond)
Group 1 – ZelloDaily, except Sunday07:00 PM

Group 2 – HAM RadioDaily, except Sunday07:10 PM

Group 3 – MURS (local to Carolina Trace area)Daily, except Sunday07:20 PM

Group 4 – GMRSDaily, except Sunday07:30 PM

Group 5 – CBDaily, except Sunday07:40 PM

Group C1 – ZelloDaily, except Sunday07:50 PM

Group C2 – HAM RadioDaily, except Sunday08:00 PM
Anytime during emergencyText messages to command cell # – when radio or Zello comms aren’t availableAny dayAny time

Brainstorming Results – CERT Emergency Communications Plan

Here are the ideas that we generated. There are over 140 ideas. Hopefully these give you a head start on developing your plan.

IdeaBucket
Work with local AM / FM stations to get message out. (Highly rated idea by group)Beacon / One Way Comms
Create AM / FM bandit stations for a hyper local reach (added after the session)Beacon / One Way Comms
MESH NetworkBeacon / One Way Comms
SPOT/Garmin BeaconsBeacon / One Way Comms
Tell citizens to turn on AM or FM radio to a preplanned channel / frequencyBeacon / One Way Comms
Use air raid sirens to get citizens to check for infoBeacon / One Way Comms
Add org chart to planCERT Team
Add rotation plan to comm planCERT Team
cache radios for use in emergencyCERT Team
comm plan “jobs to be done” listCERT Team
consider situation where CERT is used as helpers instead of standalone groupCERT Team
create comms map for each band for Lee countyCERT Team
create form for passing messages (needs / requests / news) via voiceCERT Team
Create member capabilities list (skills, interests, experience and equipment)CERT Team
create trailer with telescopic mast and battery / solar to use a temporary repeaterCERT Team
develop online repository for standard formsCERT Team
Forms list for comm plan, use ICS forms (ics-214, 201, 205, 205A, 213, 214, 217, 221, 211,222)CERT Team
get more CERT members to take ham test so they can help with Lee county EOCCERT Team
Go bag plan for comm planCERT Team
have (email / voice / phone) contact in comm plan for tech support / comm plan questionsCERT Team
look at our plan using interoperability continuum from ICSCERT Team
should different message types be transferred on different frequenciesCERT Team
use for ICS 221 after demobilizationCERT Team
use form 213 for message taking / delivery / resource requestsCERT Team
use form 309 to document interactionsCERT Team
use issue tracking software (online?) to track requestsCERT Team
Take a look at the Lee County Emergency Communication plan and report (Highly rated idea by group)Communication between CERT and local community
Develop a communication plan and network of people (chainsaw brigade) that allows us to direct a chainsaw network that clears trees off the road after a weather event. This helps clear the roads quickly so first responders can reach people in need. This network would need to work with various parties to identify locations of blocked roads then send out requests for network members to go clear those roads (Highly rated idea by group)Communication between CERT and local community
Develop ways to communicate with Lee County EOC (Highly rated idea by group)Communication between CERT and local community
Use community centers as a shelter, muster point, comm point or cache point (Highly rated idea by group)Communication between CERT and local community
add HOA layer to comm planCommunication between CERT and local community
add relationships layer to comm planCommunication between CERT and local community
better integration of Lee County Emergency MGMTCommunication between CERT and local community
CBCommunication between CERT and local community
create contact list for Lee County and Sanford emergency mgmt and EOCCommunication between CERT and local community
create list of emergency contacts across county (public / CERT / private)Communication between CERT and local community
create list of how to reach EOCs for areas outside of the countyCommunication between CERT and local community
create list of lee county / sanford and adjoining city / county /agency frequenciesCommunication between CERT and local community
Degraded Power Grid – If cell is up, utilize cell – HAMs will likely conduct accountability via COMM nets – GMRS for short distance non-HAM commsCommunication between CERT and local community
Determine muster points for CERT to meet and exchange info face-to-face in bad weather. Alternate communication path for those who don’t go outCommunication between CERT and local community
Develop CERT teams across county, possibly using fire station coverage map to drive CERT team AOCommunication between CERT and local community
Develop community network around volunteer fire departmentsCommunication between CERT and local community
Develop list of areas where CERT under serves the community and determine if there are areas that could benefit the most from a local CERT teamCommunication between CERT and local community
Do welfare checks on people with mobility or other health issues (esp during an emergency)Communication between CERT and local community
Hand-held walkie talkiesCommunication between CERT and local community
How can we fill in gaps with the Lee County Emergency Communication plan?Communication between CERT and local community
How do we communicate with citizens in economically distressed areas?Communication between CERT and local community
If teams are dispersed, it becomes more troublesome. Best scenario is to have multiple methods of communication lying within CERT EOC to serve as broadcast beacons, i.e. multiple HAM radios programmed to different frequencies, if issues arise on one frequency, you swap to another frequency and periodically blast net messages on degraded frequency indicating the swap to the secondary frequency.Communication between CERT and local community
Interface with Lee County Emergency ManagementCommunication between CERT and local community
share a version of the com plan with local groups (church, prepper, community, etc)Communication between CERT and local community
use fire stations as a gathering / communications pointCommunication between CERT and local community
Use map of fire station map to understand community relationsCommunication between CERT and local community
use microwave or other rf connections to fire stationsCommunication between CERT and local community
VIPER (if able to utilize)Communication between CERT and local community
Within Trace this should be fairly easy and facilitated via CERT runners within our respective communities. Individuals that are CERT members could be arranged into “teams,” with those teams being broken up into respective HOA groups. One CERT member, preferably a HAM, could operate as a base station and send the runners out into their respective HOAs and conduct welfare checks on residents and report back to base station.Communication between CERT and local community
work with nextdoor.com as a broad communications toolCommunication between CERT and local community
ZelloCommunication between CERT and local community
Hold ham crams in churches or other groups or HOAs (Highly rated idea by group)Deployed Communication
Engage local HOAs and help them develop networks or CERT teams and then fold that into our CERT network (Highly rated idea by group)Deployed Communication
ATAK network (transported over MESH network)Deployed Communication
Can we get an affinity group to help develop a communication network (providing people, location or funds)? Could be someone like the Sanford Business League. Also, local business could work with us to help them and their employees be prepared both at work and at home.Deployed Communication
GMRS, MURS, CB (short distance comms)Deployed Communication
HAM (for those licensed)Deployed Communication
Have one person that takes notes for the deployed teams to track activities and have a way to share them. Could those notes show up online and realtime? Could be someone that doesn’t have their ham license or is without radio experienceDeployed Communication
Hold exercises that include these ham / radio operators so CERT can practice communicating to their group through themDeployed Communication
How many community groups, organziations (including HOAs) have ham operators? Can we form a group of those ham operators, so the operators can interface with the groups they are members of, becoming a force multiplier. Have those operators train together. Also consider other means of communication such as GMRS, meshtaastic, cb, etc. or means we haven’t considered yet. Maybe even have social events for those operators. Train together and with CERT and develop those relationships.Deployed Communication
Map social network – including affinity groups, churches, business, civic groups, government. Maybe develop a list of group sites like on facebook, nextdoor, etc.Deployed Communication
MESH network (Meshtastic devices, etc)Deployed Communication
Place meshtastic nodes or equipment caches at locations where the community groups meet (groups that have ham operators that are part of the network).Deployed Communication
ZelloDeployed Communication
Use DMR repeater in Lee County (Highly rated idea by group)Digital Comms
create form for passing messages (needs / requests / news) via winmailDigital Comms
DMRs (Digital Radios)Digital Comms
MESH networkDigital Comms
Software defined radiosDigital Comms
Use group.me app for group text messagesDigital Comms
Communicate through grocery stores, home depot, gas stations and other places people go in an emergency to get supplies (Highly rated idea by group)Gathering Points
Consider parks and schools as possible gathering pointsGathering Points
Develop a PACE plan for the gathering pointsGathering Points
Incentivize groups to communicate with us. Maybe find a local company(s) to help fund some of these activities and partner with us. Also work with churches and other local groupsGathering Points
Look for organic gathering points as a place to get the message out. Maybe Walmart or Lowe’s Home ImprovementGathering Points
Use gathering points to disseminate information to communityGathering Points
Use a balloon or kite to hold meshtastic node at an elevation, check for coverage and consider competing interference in the LoRa band (Highly rated idea by group)Grid Down
A MESH network that is properly constructed (Solar power, hardened) and is adequately distributed across the county should be able to provide this “beacon” and be accessible to everyone in the community as long as you have a device to enter into the network itself. Obviously this has limitation as you need to have the device and have it properly configured.Grid Down
Develop type of even list – nuclear, hurricane, etc and try to consider a lot of possible eventsGrid Down
Have someone monitoring the situation so a runner can be dispatched (walking or driving). This way we can reach people in a hyper local area and manage emergency requests even if the person needing help can’t directly communicate with us. Use this to communicate with and help people in an area where people can’t actually leave home or the local area.Grid Down
I believe this is likely the most difficult situation to rectify until we answer some of our other questions. Obviously the most fool-proof way of communicating during a grid down situation is by runners between CERT members, with a HAM CERT member acting as a control station for people to check in with. Once we flesh out some other methods of communication that are more fail-tolerant, we can utilize those.Grid Down
Iridium (Cost prohibitive but will function as long as you have battery in the phone and SAT Uplink)Grid Down
Runners/Foot MobileGrid Down
use radio propagation software to determine expected coverageGrid Down
Use Rattlegram as a beacon (maybe on HAM, CB, GMRS, MURS?)Grid Down
use solar powered repeaters (ham / grms / meshtastic?)Grid Down
Use support nets in comm planGrid Down
Connect APRS to satellite for messaging and locationsHam comms
connect to state Winlink Service (shares)Ham comms
create an adhoc winlink server for CERT group / remote message server / rms relay softwareHam comms
determine coverage of repeaters and other comm sources in planHam comms
determine how long lee county and moore county repeaters stay up when grid is downHam comms
Hold schedule update (radio show like) at specific times and dates / intervals during an emergency, i.e. a form of wilderness protocol. This minimizes power usage during a grid down situationHam comms
Hold schedule update (radio show like) from drone that carries up an antenna at specific times and dates / intervals during an emergency, i.e. a form of wilderness protocol. This minimizes power usage during a grid down situationHam comms
Use APRS for textingHam comms
Use APRS to locate a victim or track team member locationsHam comms
Use balloon or drone to launchHam comms
use field situation report to apprise state EOC of status (nceoc.ncdps.gov), maybe through winlinkHam comms
use national calling frequency 146.52 or 446.0 from page 46 of the AuxfogHam comms
use winlink to transfer info among CERT members, how can we do that with and without an internet connectionHam comms
ADS-B (Aircraft Tracking)Improving situational awareness
ATAK (General SA collation tool)Improving situational awareness
Better understand why people don’t prepare ahead of time so we can help people understand why it is important to be prepared, or somehow encourage them to prepareImproving situational awareness
Downlinked NOAA data (WX tools)Improving situational awareness
Have someone continually monitor what’s going on. Have someone able to communicate immediately if someone else needs help.Improving situational awareness
Know any communication alternatives, so you can change what you are doing and still be able to communicateImproving situational awareness
Signals Plan/PACE PlanImproving situational awareness
Understand that we can only help people prepare that will help themselves. We can old help so much and have to be ready to deal with unprepared neighbors in an emergency situationImproving situational awareness
Attach Meshtastic to HF to reach Internet via Gateway. Use remote HF transceiver for access (Highly rated idea by group)Non-Ham Comms
ATAKNon-Ham Comms
Attach Meshtastic to internet at far distributed pointsNon-Ham Comms
Cache Baofengs at different locations across the countyNon-Ham Comms
can we runwinlink over gmrs or cb?non-Ham Comms
CBNon-Ham Comms
Cell network, ZelloNon-Ham Comms
Create list of existing tower sites with existing and unused feed linesNon-Ham Comms
Create list of tower or other sites where we could put repeaters (meshtastic, GMRS or other)Non-Ham Comms
Full Power grid/All services – This is likely a pre-call out function – Utilize cell, email and prep for no-grid possibility.Non-Ham Comms
GMRS, MURSNon-Ham Comms
Hand-held Walkie TalkiesNon-Ham Comms
If a robust and fail-tolerant Mesh network is developed, you can utilize that for message traffic and indicate to deployed teams the changes required.Non-Ham Comms
If cell services are operational/slightly degraded, you can still utilize those as a means of broadcasting changes as well.Non-Ham Comms
If grid is still up, cell network is likely the best option and is likely the easiest option for most members as well. If deployed and in a grid down situation, that is when our MESH/ATAK network would likely provide the easiest geolocated SA tool for status. HAM and GMRS radios can also be utilized for this function as well.Non-Ham Comms
If we have an emplaced CERT EOC, it is likely that team members will be co-located at some point during deployment. This would assume that word of mouth would be the primary method of change management for commo methods.Non-Ham Comms
look at Cert team in Cary’s plan for GMRS usage (contact Virginia Enzor for info)Non-Ham Comms
No Power Grid/Initial — Runners within Trace (if movement is safe)//Need strip maps for non-Trace CERT members – HAMs that have back-up power serve as beacons for runners for accountabilityNon-Ham Comms
Outside of Trace this may become more difficult. Strip maps of all non-Trace CERT members should be developed and located within the CERT administrative documents. This would facilitate accountability to send runners from Trace CERT to non-Trace CERT members. Lee County governmental organizations, Emergency Management, would also play a role in this. We should understand their game plan for an actual call-out and develop a link-up protocol with them. This would provide them extra manpower via CERT members and would facilitate the flow of information.Non-Ham Comms
Place meshtastic nodes at local stores, churches and other organizationsNon-Ham Comms
Provide data to host (tower or building site) as a thank you for hosting our equipmentNon-Ham Comms
Put repeaters / Meshtastic nodes at Lee County Emergency Mgmt siteNon-Ham Comms
Put repeaters / Meshtastic nodes on church buildingsNon-Ham Comms
Put repeaters / Meshtastic nodes on Duke Power sitesNon-Ham Comms
Put repeaters / Meshtastic nodes on water towersNon-Ham Comms
Stand up a solar GMRS repeaterNon-Ham Comms
Stand up GMRS repeater in Lee CountyNon-Ham Comms
The easiest way to improve SA is to ensure that we have multiple, easy methods of communication between team members. Obviously some members will have more experience and have preferences on which communication method to prefer and that’s ok. We need to develop a solid signals plan that lays out what we do in particular situations, develop a PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency) plan for various instances.Non-Ham Comms
This assumes that we have in-roads with the local emergency management here in Lee County during the emergency. It is imperative that we wargame the scenario with local EM reps to ensure we are all on the same page in the event a large scale disaster happens. This would likely include what methods of communication they will be utilizing, disaster response plans and basic link-up procedures.Non-Ham Comms
Use GMRS repeater that is already running in Harnett CountyNon-Ham Comms
Use SDR dongle with loop antenna and android device to allow listening to a CERT status update on HF (or other frequency). Create a standard design with tutorials to make it easily accessible to as many people in the county as possible (CERT members and everyone else). Create youtube video to explain how to setup and useNon-Ham Comms
Develop SOPs for emergency communication roles, actions, responsibilities, etc. (Highly rated idea by group)SOPs

Brainstorming! – CERT Emergency Communications Plan

We gathered as group at the training room in the local fire station. This was great venue with whiteboards and plenty of room to spread out.

Great team contributions
  1. Introduction
    • Participants – everyone introduced themselves
    • Plan for the morning
    • Go through the rules for brainstorming
      • Capture ideas as we go
      • No analysis or critiquing idea, instead just let the ideas flow. It is good to build on ideas
    • Looked at the buckets and challenge / specific questions
  2. Review the brainwriting results – quickly went through all of the brainwriting ideas
  3. Brainstorming session – after the first idea went out, this group really took off with ideas. We posted stickies with written ideas on the white board and grouped them by bucket.
  4. Analysis – we ended the brainstorming session. The next steps:
    • Everyone voted on their favorite ideas, working to identify ideas that we should explore
    • Talked about the highest priority ideas and looked for themes (ideas that grouped together around a common theme)
  5. Identified next steps and concluded the meeting

An enthusiastic group that really wants to find better ways to help out in the community during an emergency really made this morning a joy.

Here are some images of the ideas on the white board.

Results

Between the brainwriting and the brainstorming, the team generated over 140 ideas! Many of the ideas were very high quality. There is lots of interest in pursuing those ideas in the wild and turning them into actionable plans.

Thanks to everyone who participated.

We’ll publish detailed results in a separate blog post, or 2 or 3, where we can look at them in detail. The ideas and the themes we discovered are all helpful.

Next Step – Getting Ready for Brainwriting – CERT Emergency Communications Plan

The next step in developing our CERT Emergency Communications plan is the brainwriting challenge for team members.

Let us talk about brainwriting and how to do it

Challenge Question

How do we create a workable plan that allows the CERT team to communicate within the team, with local authorities and the community in an emergency

Specific Questions

  1. How do we communicate with all CERT members (Ham and non-Ham) during a deployment?
  2. If we have an issue with one communication path how do we let everyone know that we need to switch to another method (maybe another channel, repeater, app or method all together)?
  3. How does the CERT team communicate with the community during a grid down situation?
  4. How does the CERT team communicate between members (HAM and non-HAM) during a grid down situation?
  5. What would a one way communication / “beacon” do and how could it be accessible by hams, non-hams and the general community in an emergency?

Buckets

Deployed Communication
Communication between CERT and the community
Ham Comms
Non-Ham Comms
Grid Down
Beacon / One Way Comms
Digital Comms

Starting Our Journey – Developing Our CERT Emergency Communications Plan

Click on the play button to listen

Our local CERT team is working on a communications plan to cover 2 very different situations:

  1. deployed in an emergency
  2. not deployed, most likely in a longer term emergency or a grid down situation

CERT means Community Emergency Response Team. There are CERT teams across the United States.

We are going to document our work so others can leverage our work and make developing a communications plan easier for other groups. We hope to use standard innovation tools to use the knowledge within our local community. These tools include:

– brainwriting
– brainstorming

Our approach, ideas, and research can help you develop a plan for your local community or other group. Maybe even your family emergency communications plan. We are looking at incorporating the communications elements that we have available to our members:

  • CB radio
  • MURS, GMRS, and FRS radios
  • Ham frequencies, repeaters and digital technologies
  • Internet options such as Zello
  • Other options we haven’t even thought of yet
  • LoRa Meshtastic

Join us on the journey. Just listen to the podcast to follow along!

Thanks
Montie
KO4NQF