After surviving one of the worst winters in recent history, we have all made it to the joyous season of summer. The time of year that is filled with planting crops, playing baseball, lounging on a beach – and prepper expos. Yes, in addition to be being nicknamed “Construction Season” summer time has now also been dubbed “Prepper Season” as well. Preppers, homesteading families, and off the grid living fans travel both near and far to hone their self-reliance skills to increase their chances of survival.
Survival Life recently sat down with the Doomsday Preppers star to see what he has been doing since appearing on the National Geographic series and to learn more about his East Coast Preparedness Convention self-reliance education events.
Doomsday Preppers star Jay Blevins was inspired to educate others after his appearance on the National Geographic hit show. Blevins is once again playing host a prepper expo rooted in self-reliance training and informational presentations. Blevins is a former DC area Deputy Sheriff and SWAT officer, current author, business consultant, speaker, prepper, father, husband, and believer. He has more than a decade of serious prepping experience and is passionate about his faith, his family, prepping, and reaching people about important life issues.
Jay Blevins has also appeared on Access Hollywood Live, The Steve Harvey Show, The Today Show and CNN Headline News, Jane Velez-Mitchell Show. The Doomsday Preppers star is also an accomplished author. His published works include Survival and Emergency Preparedness Skills – SEPS, Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Readiness for Uncertain Times, and The Last Fall.
An Interview with one of the Doomsday Preppers:
Survival Life: Some hold a stereotypical view of so-called preppers and survivalists while others appear to recognize the educational and insurance mindset many preppers hold. How would you describe the American prepper?
Jay: Thanks for asking this question as it is at the core of why we have done all the shows, radio, and other interviews. We realize some preppers criticize us for putting ourselves ‘out there’ the way we do. But we do it to reach those who need to be reached! The true American prepper is a tough, tenacious, faith filled, mentally prepared, plan having, gear, food, supply storing, hard-working, never quitting, well-researched, self-defending, flag waving, gun-carrying intelligent self-reliant resourceful patriot who can’t be put up, shut up, or forced to quit, come hell, high water, or anything in between! The true American prepper is a tough, tenacious, faith filled, mentally prepared, plan having, gear, food, supply storing, hard-working, never quitting, well-researched, self-defending, flag waving, gun-carrying intelligent self-reliant resourceful patriot who can’t be put up, shut up, or forced to quit, come hell, high water, or anything in between!”
Survival Life: The new season of Doomsday Preppers is about to begin. How has your appearance on the preparedness series during its early seasons impacted you both personally and professionally?
Jay: When we set out to do the show, we wanted America to see the ‘normal’ face of prepping. We wanted them to see some people who are well researched, intelligent, average Americans who see the need to prep for various reasons. I’ve now done a bunch of shows, tons of radio, print, and online interviews and media, and the vast majority of interviews I do, the interviewers become impressed with just how ‘normal’ we are. So the main impact it has had on our personal and professional lives is that it has given us an opportunity to reach a larger audience and tell them why we do what we do, and for them to consider it on a more level playing field.
Paramount Pictures invited a few folks from my group to come out and do a survival forum at the Washington DC premiere of World War Z. It was an amazing chance to reach ordinary people with an important message. And that’s why we do what we do. As an author and speaker, that’s why I do it. As a business, that’s why our company SEPS does it. We have a chance, like the Watchmen of old to sound the alarm for the people to be prepared when danger is coming. The only question is … how much time until the alarm no longer sounds and how long until the time for preparing crosses over into the time to survive? That my friends is for another interview, another day.”
Survival Life: How is East Coast Preparedness Convention III different than the dozens of other preparedness events scheduled around the country for the summer and fall?
Jay: As an author, speaker, and co-owner of SEPS LLC, a full service preparedness consulting firm, I’ve been to many shows across the country. I’ve been the featured speaker, a vendor, and now, an organizer. I’ve seen some of the things that work, and what doesn’t. The shows that I would consider failures were the ones where organizers were just out to make a buck, and weren’t even preppers. Some of the shows out there I’d even say are scams unfortunately. The legitimate or good shows to me are the ones where attendees, vendors, speakers, and organizers can all walk away and say it was time and money well spent. So there are good shows and bad shows out here. Frankly, we are different, and part of the movement of good shows because Ryan and I are preppers. We’re different, because a large chunk of the funds we raise goes to help the local volunteer fire department, Ender’s Fire Hall in Berryville. We’re different because from the time the doors open, to the national anthem, to the last speaker and piece of prepper gear sold; we are passionate about making a difference in people’s lives; about reaching them with important truths. And we have heard it time and again from attendees and vendors … they love the show and keep coming back.
Survival Life: This is the third time the event has been hosted, what has changed since you first began organizing the massive preparedness convention?
Jay: In March of 2013 we started with humble beginnings. We just wanted to put on a local show to reach people in our community, and give them a place to come to discuss prepping. After we appeared on shows like Doomsday Preppers, Today, Access Hollywood Live, Steve Harvey, and others, we received a lot of emails and calls where people wanted to join our network. Well, obviously we can’t take in everyone, and so Ryan and I decided to put together a one-day show where people could come and learn, meet other preppers, and get a little gear. To our surprise, the place was packed out and bursting at the seams. We crammed speaking and vending all into one area of about 3,500-square-foot and it was a great time, but it was clear we needed to do more. With only about five speakers, 15 tables, and a 5-hour show, the people demanded more. Now, we have two days-worth of speakers, dozens of vendors, national sponsors like Taser International, and will reach our goal of raising $3,000 for the fire department. We are also spending about eight times what we did before on marketing and advertising to get the word out to more preppers and those curious about it.
Survival Life: What prompted you to embark on such a massive event?
Jay: Ryan and I are both passionate about prepping, and we wanted to take our strengths, combine them with the strengths of other experts like Scott Hunt, Tim Macwelch, Damien Gardner, Greg Smith, Dave Jones, and some of our other speakers, add that to some amazing vendors, and create a preparedness event where we could reach hundreds and thousands of people! For me personally, this is a life calling!
Survival Life: What type of presentations and courses will be offered during the prepper expo?
Jay: Well, I don’t have to tell you who Scott Hunt is, and he’ll be our featured speaker giving several great presentations on water and alternative energy. Tim Macwelch will share with us about outdoor survival skills. Damien Gardner will teach about edged tools and weapons. Holly Blevins will share about essential oils and prepping, David Jones about CBRN, Greg Smith will teach us about long term food storage, Ryan McCullough about financial considerations like bartering, alternative savings, and the effects of economic collapse, and yours truly will round out the show discussing the importance of mental and spiritual preparation by looking at real life case studies of some amazing preppers and survivors from the past! Last but not least, we’ll have our popular expert panel where people will be able to ask questions of all of the speakers, and a few other experts we’ll have on hand.
Survival Life: Is the prepper convention a family oriented event? What activities will be available for children?
Jay: We believe prepping is a family event, and you’ll see my kids, 10, 8, and 5 all there. In addition to the vending and food, there will be someone on hand to teach the kids how to make survival bracelets, we’ll have a fitness challenge/obstacle course, and of course the ever popular food and drink samples at Survival Food Plan, who is one of our sponsors.
Survival Life: What should East Coast Prepper Con visitors “know before they go” in reference to the event venue and the classes and presentations?
Jay: If I wasn’t so busy organizing, playing emcee, and speaking, I’d want to see all of the presentations. There will also be over a dozen awesome giveaways from gift certificates for gear, training opportunities, bug out bags, food, and two grand prizes. The first grand prize is a Taser C2 gold package, $400 value, courtesy of our national sponsor Taser International, and the second grand prize will be a signed copy of all books available from speakers like Scott Hunt, Myself, Tim Macwelch, and more!
Survival Life: Will there be a vendor area at the prepper expo as well?
Jay: But of course! We will have some of the best preparedness vendors from all over the country. They will have knives, medical gear, silver and gold, gas masks, bug out bags, tactical gear, self-defense weapons, trainers, and much much more! I’d love to mention our sponsors, most of whom are vendors as well: Taser International, Blue Ridge Thrive, Survival Food Plan, Get Ready, Golden Seal Enterprises, and Appalachian Outdoor Readiness and Essentials! With sponsors like this, imagine what the entire vendor line up will be like! I challenge you to look for something you need that we won’t have.
Survival Life: What do you see as the primary concerns both prepper expo attendees and presenters are concerned about in 2014?
Jay: Though the stock market is hitting record highs, it’s not based on a real recovery. Unemployment numbers are steadying not because jobs are being created, but because people have stopped looking. I think the economy is still a major concern; this last quarter was the worst non-recession drop in history 2.9 percent. Corruption in government and the inability of those in power to do much of anything is a scary thing. Armed conflict is also huge. The powder keg that is the middle east could go off at any minute with situations like ISIS in Iraq, the Israel and Hamas conflict, the Ukraine crisis! Did you know over three million people were displaced by armed conflict in 2013? It’s hard to say what one event will be of most concern, but I’d say as a well rounded prepper, be informed, and prepared for whatever might come your way!
East Coast Preparedness Convention III Speakers
Presentation: Water! What to do when the tap runs dry! (and/or) Energy! A little Electricity goes a long way! Learn ingenious, yet simple ways to obtain, filter, and purify water and alternative energy in emergency situations.
Scott Hunt is the owner of Practical Preppers, LLC, a company that specializes in preparedness solutions for individuals and groups. A mechanical engineer, Scott shares his experiences and knowledge through teaching, training and consulting. Practical Preppers develops infrastructure plans that range from basic hand pumps for wells to complete off-grid survival retreats. Scott’s extensive background in Homesteading, Sustainable Water and Energy systems is a key factor in his analysis of whether the proper infrastructure is in place should a disaster occur. Scott is a prepper and enjoys promoting the preparedness lifestyle.
Presentation: Edged Tools and Weapons – Edged Tool/Weapon Essentials-Damien will share about the essential aspects of edged tools, from various uses to recommendations and techniques, especially as they apply to survival and emergency preparedness.
Damien is a custom knife maker, the owner of Calvary Knives LLC, a self-defense specialist, a husband, and father. He is passionate about the quality and performance of the custom blades he makes for his clients and sharing his skills with others. Damien has years of prepping experience, is a former federal law enforcement officer, and has the ability to reach people with his laid back and engaging speaking style.
Presentation: Outdoor Essential Survival Skills – Drawing upon his decades of experience both practicing and instructing the art of outdoor survival, Tim Macwelch will teach attendees essential outdoor skills such as finding wild edible plants, survival fishing/gear, and essential snares and trapping.
Advanced Survival Training School founder and instructor, Tim MacWelch, has been professionally teaching a wide variety of survival skills to the public since 1997. Before there were survival TV shows and before there were preppers, MacWelch has been teaching the best of survival skills to all who were willing to learn.
Presentation: Survival Food Storage -Comparison of freeze dried food and dehydrated food, Technique for preserving food for Long Term Storage, Hazards associated with improper food storage.
Greg Smith, owner of SurvivalFoodPlan.com is a survival expert redefining the attributes of a “survivalist” including but not limited to prepared, planner, positive thinker, decisive, creative, resourceful, student of life. Greg’s resume includes over two decades of Military Service. A few of those US Navy Commands are USS Mahan, USS Mitscher, USS Cape, and St. George, Center for Naval Leadership, Naval Weapons Test and Evaluation Facility. Greg is also an EMT Life Member of Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad, a business owner, production level food handler, food storage menu review board member and father to children with extreme food allergies and medical conditions.
Greg and Barb Smith established SurvivalFoodPlan.com in 2012 while Greg was still active duty and they were working as production level food handlers, warehouse and office staff in a long term food storage manufacturing company. Together they run their business, raise their children, raise livestock on their family hobby farm, are church board members, active in local volunteer organizations and continue to research with the best and brightest in the survival industry. Natural and man-made disasters are unavoidable, but experience has taught Greg that survival and blessings are all about everyday people making every day choices.
Presentation: Bartering: Pros, Cons, and History – Case studies on past occurrences of barter, to include benefits and detriments during these times. Also an overview of how bartering might be needed and implemented in a crisis situation.
Ryan McCullough is the co-founder of SEPS LLC and the Founder and CEO of Liberty Union Metals Exchange – LUMEX. McCullough is also the author of “Law, Money, and the Bank” and is passionate about using historical examples of economic crisis to teach people how to survive in unstable economic times.
Presentation: Essential Oils and Preparedness -Learn why doTerra Essential Oils are an integral part of your emergency preparedness plan. Holly will introduce the top 15 oils for emergencies and teach how and when to use each one.
Holly Blevins is a doTerra Wellness Advocate dedicated to teaching others what she has learned on her journey toward health and independence from modern healthcare. She is a prepper, a wife, and a work at home mother of three who has been featured on Doomsday Preppers, Steve Harvey Show, and local TV and radio shows.
Presentation: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense: A practical guide to survival in an NBC environment – How to build a Faraday Cage, the best protection from fallout, the effects of a nuclear blast, to bunker or not to bunker that is the question, the best protection in a chemical attack, the number one killer in an NBC Attack, the best protection from a biological agent or pandemic, sicknesses, symptoms and first aids.
A 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army and retired Army Chemical Officer, David Jones taught nuclear biological and chemical warfare defense to military personnel all over the world. Being recognized as a weapon of mass destruction expert, six months after 9/11 occurred David was recalled to active duty. He spent the next 22 months in the Middle East traveling to 16 different countries conducting vulnerability assessments on US interests in the area. David is now an emergency management specialist working for the Department of Homeland Security at Mount weather and has worked with Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, NASA and US Air Force Global Strike Command where he was the only civilian on a nuclear weapons accident response team. David has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, a Master’s degree in security management and has numerous awards from the military and civilian organizations. His most amazing accomplishment to date was that he became a father for the first time at age 50.