Monday, September 21, 2009

Preparedness Enrichment Night

A few months ago I was asked if I would do an Enrichment night for the ladies at church about preparedness. Of course I said yes. Now, for those who don't know, the LDS church has a program for the ladies called Relief Society, and part of that is having activities or meetings called Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment meetings where we get together and learn things or go places or have a dinner or whatever the local Relief Society decides we need to do. So our Relief Society decided they wanted a night to talk about preparedness, and I got the call to teach it. Well, the night is supposed to be about 1-1 1/2 hours long and I was asked in the spring and didn't do it until last week, leaving me about 4 months to wonder how to teach preparedness in 90 minutes or less without having the sweet ladies falling asleep on me or scaring them into the preparedness overload coma. So here's what I came up with, and maybe it can help some of you all also.

I decorated with random preparedness items, like canned goods, flashlights, radios, etc. I brought my grinder, dehydrator, a few of my favorite preparedness books, my emergency kit, my son's kit, my car kit, and prizes!

I started by asking a few questions about preparedness in general: Why should we prepare? and What are we preparing for? Got some good answers from the ladies, and some good discussion. There are some great quotes and scriptures for this section.

When I was first starting, I gave them all a little piece of colored paper. I used three different colors--we had about 20 people show up. After the discussion about why we were preparing, I had them gather in "families" by color WITHOUT TALKING. Now, a couple of them didn't get the no talking memo, but it worked okay anyway. The first group together was supposed to get a prize, but I couldn't tell which group got together fastest, and some were disadvantaged due to physical limitations of some of the ladies there, so I just gave everybody Waterproof Matches for their emergency kits.

Then we had a discussion about making plans like evacuation plans and meeting place plans and how important it is that everybody in the family knows the plans.

For the next activity, I gave each "family" a piece of paper and pencil and gave them 2 minutes to write down everything they could think of to put in a 72 hour/emergency kit. The group with the most things on their list won lightsticks for their kits.

Then we had a discussion about emergency kits, evacuation kits, car kits, etc. Why they're a good idea, generally what to put in them, etc. I could only cover the basics--not enough time! I could have talked for the whole 90 minutes on ONE aspect of preparedness! Ugh.

The third activity was a wheat grinding race. I had brought my Country Living hand crank grain mill, and set it up on the counter. Each family chose a representative and they had 30 seconds to grind wheat into flour. The winning lady ground almost 1/2 cup in 30 seconds! When she was done, she said, "I decided I don't like bread all that much." Even with a nice mill, hand grinding grain is work! The winning family got energy bars and the losers got hydration drink mix packets for their kits. And I got a little over a cup of flour to take home that I didn't have to grind! :)

Then we discussed what we should store like 3 months of easy, normal foods, water, money, and longer term storage of staples like wheat, rice, beans, etc. Also the tools to use the food you have stored--like a way to grind your wheat or cook your meals if there was no power/gas/etc.

The final activity was a tasting game. I made chocolate chip cookies with bean flour in them. What? I haven't told you all about bean flour? You can grind white beans and use the flour as a substitute for up to 1/4 of any recipe's flour. If I do the full 1/4 of the recipe's flour in bean flour, I can taste the beans a little, so I go a little less than 1/4 of the flour total. Anyway, more about bean flour another time. I had made these cookies with bean flour in them and they each took a cookie and had to guess the secret ingredient. One of the ladies had heard me talk about bean flour before, so she guessed what it was although she couldn't taste it in the cookie. Fun.

Everybody got one of my famous dryer lint firestarters as a prize. I had to explain what it was, I will admit they look a little strange if you don't know what they are.

Then we talked about the importance of knowing what you have and how to use it. This includes your food stuffs and your gear. It is not okay to say that your husband knows how to load and fire the rifle or light the stove, YOU need to learn how to use your equipment. What if he's not there? What if you're not there? The best time for experimenting and learning is now, when there is no emergency.

Finally, I practically begged them NOT to go home, file the handouts and do nothing! Inventory your stuff, buy stuff, learn something new, etc. Do something--ANYTHING! Just get doing.

I gave them handouts with the general outline of what we had discussed as well as sample lists for an emergency kit, a car kit, what to grab to evacuate, and long term storage.

I cooked up an MRE for them to sample and also had pieces of the survival bars they could taste. Some of the ladies had brought homemade bread and jam, so there was some good food there also. I've had a few ladies comment since the activity that they went home and inventoried their food supplies or gathered gear for their emergency kits. Hooray for progress!


Jimmy the Screwdriver said...

Great idea. Being a guy, I've never been to homemaking night, but it sounds like an excellent presentation. I am thinking about offering a similar class to the elder's quorum.

Thanks for the great ideas.

Sondra said...

That sounds absolutely like a ton of fun. Get those ladies moving and excited. I love the wheat grinding - that is a crack up!

Joshua Tolley said...

A friend once had a similar responsibility, and talked mostly of food storage. The attendees seemed relatively uninterested as he talked about how quickly food storage would build up with regular purchases of a few canned goods here, dry beans there, etc. Later the Relief Society president told the presenter the problem was the ladies just couldn't see themselves eating most of the stuff he talked about. They couldn't imagine, for instance, going through the effort to actually use dry beans.

Food storage people always say "store the stuff you'll eat", but there's more to it than that. We have to learn to eat things that we can store. If all you eat is Wonder bread, to pick an overly extreme example, you'll never have a year's supply that will actually work, and not just because Wonder bread has all the nutritional value of wallpaper glue. People trying food storage should learn to expand their diets to include foods that keep well.

Leasmom said...

I've got to get on board with being prepared. Its seems that somethings gonna happen in the very near future, its in the air, on t.v. and in predictions so why not get prepared just in case!

TheSurvivalMom said...

I wish I could have been in your class! Wow! I have a question about the firestarters. I heard that you should make sure the lint isn't from synthetic fabrics, but when I do my laundry, I don't sort it by natural vs. synthetic fabrics! Is this something I should worry about or does it matter what type of lint I have?

TheMartianChick said...

It sounds as though your class was a wonderful experience. Most people think that I'm crazy because I stockpile a lot of food and supplies. I find that the easiest way to get people to listen to me is to discuss what "normal" people view to be a likely scenario. In our area, the likely scenarios are job loss or a bad snowstorm.

Kudos to you for making the participants start thinking about their own food and physical security!

Angela said...

Jimmy--Oh, I'd have fun with the elders quorum!

Sondra--Thanks for the comment. It was quite fun, and hopefully gets them thinking and doing something.

Joshua--I totally understand! We usually get low attendance if it's advertised as a "food storage night". And most folks don't understand that the store won't always have their wonder bread there for them. Working storable foods into your normal diet is so important and will be so much easier on you and your body when you actually have to use them!

Leasmom--no kidding--the signs are everywhere if you're willing to see them.

SurvivalMom--I use common, ordinary, run of the mill lint from my lint catcher, put it in paper egg cartons and pour wax over it. It really doesn't matter what kind of lint, but I'm not lighting JUST the lint (tried that and it didn't work well enough for my fire-challenged self to get a fire going).

MartianChick--thanks for the compliments! I get strange looks/comments even from people in my own extended family, and I think they are the strange ones for not stocking food and necessities for their families! ;)

Olivia said...

Loved, loved, loved this post! I soooo wish I could have been at your RS Enrichment meeting. What fun!