Morale boosters may not be at the top of the prepping must-have list, but such items and activities do command an important spot in preparedness stores. Naming at least one individual in your family or prepping network as a morale officer will facilitate the gathering of non-essential items while others focus on filling the coffers with food, guns, and ammo.
These top six prepping morale boosting items and activities were crafted for a bugging-in scenario, but they could be adapted on a smaller scale for those who have to relocate to a safe place after a solar flare, EMP, economic collapse, or other civil unrest inducing scenario.
Board games, cards, candy, and flavored drink mixes are staple morale booster items, but by planning in advance, the morale officer can garner items and plan activities that go far beyond the routine items – while sticking to a shoestring budget. Planning to find ways to give children and teens a sense of normality should involve input from the youngsters themselves. Remember, the recovery time for a power grid failure could take a decade, so plan for babies that could be joining the group along the way as well.
- Special Events: Birthdays and holidays are always highly anticipated times of year, not just for children, but for loving moms who typically plan months in advance of the annual celebrations. The Dollar Tree and similar $1 outlets are great places to stock on up birthday plates, gift wrap, reusable decorations, and tablecloths. Don’t forget to grab some treat bags which can be re-used and dozen-for-a-dollar goodies to put inside the bags for other children. Watch for sales on toys (or clothes and jewelry for teens) in shopping circulars or at yard sales to buy gift items to store away until disaster strikes. Don’t forget to plan ahead for anniversaries as well.
- Seasonal Crafts: Holidays could cause morale to slip significantly if not planned for long in advance. Filling plastic tubs with items specific to each major holiday will delight not just the youngsters, but offer a brief escape from the new reality for everyone in the family or prepping network. Craft supplies for children, teens, and elderly members of the group to make reusable decorations will keep hands and minds busy and offer a chance for storytelling, Bible reading, and singing while the artsy task is being completed. In the days following Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Thanksgiving, themed art kits are typically offered at 75 percent off, a great time to snag some foam art kits, ornament kits, egg decorating kits, and the like for next to nothing. Pick some pine cones and store them as well to add to the holiday decorations and ornament-making supply kit.
- Gifts with a Purpose: Even the children will need to learn or enhance skill sets during a disaster. A craft class geared to gift making can teach such skills and provide lovingly hand-made useful items as well. Put together kits which teach leather-making, basket weaving, candle making, soap making, and macramé items. The youngsters and those who are physically unable to complete manual labor tasks still be contributing members of the group and will take great pride in the items the produce. A little plastic loom which makes potholders is a great inexpensive kit to buy for young girls. A macramé plant holder would make an attractive herb or vegetable planter. The leather-making kit would make a multitude of gifts while teaching the user the skills necessary to repair or make a host of leather items which are needed around the homestead. Girls can also learn how to sew with a kit or a manual sewing machine which are often found at yard and estate sales. Grab clothes form the $.25 table at yard sales to use for material for blankets, shawls, and socks – such projects will not be too difficult for a novice seamstress.
- Sports and Outdoors: Children will be spending a lot more time outdoors when iPhones and computers have been rendered useless. Buy pool floats and water toys from a Dollar Tree or post-summer season for play on the pond or in the stream at your bug-in or bug-out location. The colorful items will add a bit of levity to sweltering hot days sans air conditioning after a man-made or natural disaster. A set of cornhole boards or a croquet, badminton, or volleyball set will also offer the chance to work out stress and enjoy some healthy competition.
- Movies: Start looking for DVD movies in big box store bargain bins and at yard sales. A movie night once a week for the adults or each evening for the children would be a welcome reprieve from chores. The frequency of movie watching would depend on the availability of power, of course, but would be the highlight of the week for many. A solar generator  does not need store-bought fuel and can work even during cloudy and chilly weather, and definitely should be added to the top of the prepping essentials list.
- Education: Although children may complain about getting up for school, they will miss the experience when it becomes no longer available. Homeschooling families will definitely have a head start when preparing to run a classroom after a doomsday scenario occurs. Those folks who do not have an educational background or homeschool should find a local group to network and ask for tips for home education during a long-term disaster scenario. Homeschooling families are typically a very helpful group, and yes they will likely try to “convert” you, but it is unlikely that they will turn down an opportunity to help parents learn how to educate their children.
Teaching children after a disasterwill boil down to the basics. Their science lessons will likely be hands-on when being taught how to care for the land, animals, learning how to track, read weather signs, and power generation. Some math lesson will also be hands-on in either the kitchen when preparing food or measuring boards, learning how a lever functions, and figuring the volume of a water barrel. The morale officer or ad hoc teacher must teach and hone the basic math skills necessary to function in the brave new world. Go to educator websites, print off grade specific lesson plans and tests, and organize them into binders. Math workbooks are available on the cheap at dollar and big box retailers.
The same process of buying workbooks and downloading lesson plans followed by binder organizing can be done for reading and social studies lessons. The value of learning the history of our country will not be diminished after a doomsday scenario. History lessons also offer the chance to practice reading, spelling, and comprehension skills. Pick up books on a wide array of reading levels form annual library book sales and yard sales to develop a library which can be used for many years to come. Other items to add to the education plastic totes include, child scissors, glue, paste, crayons, markers, and educational counting trinkets, such as plastic bears or colored blocks.