With Halloween behind us, and cinemas panicking about how Scouts can survive an undead outbreak, we offer a REAL Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.
So, I’m a Scout, or rather a member of The UK Scout Association. I’ve essentially been a member since birth. I’ve travelled all over the world with the movement, met friends across the globe, and just this year I calculated that so far I’ve spent 32 weekends of 2015 Scouting, of which 25 were spent camping (and one camp that lasted for 12 days over the summer). So I’d like to think I know a thing or two about Scouts.
I would like to state before we begin that this guide is purely in jest; anything written should be taken with a vigorous sprinkling of salt, it has no connection at all with the UK Scout Association, and we’re all having a laugh at a highly unrealistic situation.
So without further ado, let’s set the scene…
The cities are burning, cars are crashed in derelict wrecks, and citizens lie mute in a siesta on the pavement oozing pasta sauce. Robert Baden Powell (Chief Scout of the World) is literally turning in his grave – both at the film, and the fact the rapture is upon us and he’s now awake from a long nap, despite a few crumbly bits. But how exactly do you survive this end-of-the-world scenario? Everybody imagines they can go all Walking Dead and survive a societal collapse, but most of your coworkers can’t go an hour without their phones. Can they light a fire with no match? Or catch, kill and skin an animal to eat? It’s widely overlooked that there is one group of people in the world who would probably disappear into the bushes, and do rather well during the night of the living dead.
It’s widely acknowledged that The Pentagon has a Zombie Apocalypse Emergency Plan stuffed somewhere in their archives, discussing the effect of ‘vegetarian zombies’ and even ‘chicken zombies’ in real life. None of this planning, however, has prepared you for the outbreak of the shuffling masses – so what skills do you need in this situation?
Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
What advice is there to offer, when surviving a ruthless world-breaking disease that is incredibly unrealistic and will probably never happen?
As opposed to the film, I have high doubts that Scouts would ever go to school, or walk around in public (unless it’s church parade) in their own uniform. There’s less chance to demonstrate your knotting skills in a zombie apocalypse, and whilst they are occasionally useful in real life, it’s more of a case that the zombie apocalypse is a glorified survival camp of the biggest, most dangerous kind.
Shelter, food and warmth are the most important aspects in that situation. You can build a shelter from large branches of birch and hazel (two types of trees that grow quickly, and the bark of a birch tree can be set fire to easily, kindling to get your fire going) with large leaves over the top, layers of fir and pine branches as they crush together well. Food is easy to find in the outdoors if you know how: various nuts, mushrooms and plants of all kinds grow at different times of the year that are edible – you just need to know what and when.
Finally, warmth – lighting a fire gets you out of all these hassles and can properly cook any caught meat (What else do you have a knife for? Zombie rabbits?) to ensure it’s edible. Hunting, trapping and fishing are all essential skills in this situation, and even one can provide sustenance for the days you haven’t gathered canned goods, or in the future when the return of a hunter-gatherer society embraces the remains of a farming humanity.
Let’s not forget that while the human race might disappear, not all of our infrastructure will go the same way. There’s the upside of being able to use a secure compound as a hideout, base or new home. Places like schools or secure industry complexes with large six-to-eight-foot fences around the edge will do well to keep out any unwanted visitors; and they’ll have a lot of space and individual rooms (for bedrooms and all your living/world-rebuilding purposes), industrial kitchens, toilet facilities and outdoor space for farming. The downside is, however, the infrastructure can also degrade.
What happens to water mains or gas pipelines when there is nobody around to look after it, or shoddy electrical wiring and the occasional damage to buildings that might cause trouble? In this situation you need to look after and maintain your buildings, as well as your person. These industrial complexes may also help in finding fuel for cars or electricity (though remember that some fuel does degrade after six months), or even large warehouses of prepacked and secure food. Think wholesale food warehouses which could last you a good year or two when rationed, allowing enough time to build up a strong farming community and livestock.
Aside from the basic survival skills, you’ll need a strong weapon. Bows work well long-range, but they take time to learn how to use, need a lot of looking after especially in the cold weather, plus provide limited ammo. Knives and axes work well close up, however there’s also that issue of being close to the undead and getting bitten; or, more likely, slashing a teammate as you’re flailing wildly. Let’s face it, you all think you’re Rick Grimes, but you’re more the flailing nerd Rick Moranis from Ghostbusters when handed a real weapon. Guns? In the UK? Highly doubtful, and the noise in real life is tremendous. When fired more than five times with no ear protection it can shatter drums and cause long-term deafness. Stick to stealth, and don’t draw that zombie attention.
There’ll be no cries of “Oggy Oggy Oggy” (reference Scouting For Boys from Baden Powell for further reading) in these situations, as loud noises might attract large amounts of the undead. Stealth is another thing of importance. We don’t need to become ninjas, but when the hustle and bustle of regular life is gone, when there is no car noise or the background murmur of society, life is surprisingly quiet. And you need to know both how to blend into that, walking more on the balls of your feet to spread weight and stop loud footfalls, and also to deal with the lack of noise (a constant for the whole of your life) in the long run – coping with potential paranoia, loss and depression.
Lets face it: eventually you’ll need to travel around somehow. In this situation you may need to learn to ride a horse, or even a bike! You may need to row a boat or a kayak; both are essential skills. If you’re finding your way around then you’ll also need a topographical map and a compass, with the ability to find your position and your way around. This could be handy at navigating from a city when the electronics network eventually goes down, and you can no longer ask Cortana where you are. Finally first aid, you’ll need to know how to take care of any injuries or wounds in this unattached situation where you’re completely alone. No hospitals, no internet for help, and the possibility for anything to happen with even more risk (such as drinking unfiltered river water or eating partially cooked food, or even poisonous things from bushes which looked like edible nuts). Taking care of your own, or protecting the small amount of you who’s left properly, is vital in this situation.
If you’ve got all these skills nailed down in some form, you don’t have to be a master but at least have some knowledge and experience (or access to it), then you’re ready to go. If the undead ever rise, you’ll learn from practice all the rest of the way. The best thing to do is escape from the cities, get out straight away, only pack the essentials (and a phone in case things start looking up and the army re-take the country such as in Shaun of the Dead), and make friends with some Scouts. You think I’m kidding?