05/22/2021 — 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Camp Independence is the nation’s oldest and original preparedness gathering. The event started in 1968 with a small group from Chicago renting a single cabin at Tippecanoe River State Park in Indiana, and conducting outdoor survival training.
The event grew over the years until Live Free USA rented the entire Group Camp facility including 32 cabins, a dining hall, and a variety of training buildings. The programs expanded to include more emergency preparedness, defense, self-reliance, and disaster survival programs. Full scale disaster drills, and scenario based training involving scores of families and groups were a frequent part of the program.
The event—and Live Free USA—garnered national attention in the 1980’s with media vans and even helicopters landing at the park. The end of the Cold War brought a false sense of security and a decline in support for survival and preparedness education. Live Free struggled to continue operations and participation in Camp Independence drew smaller crowds. Recovery was underway, when the Indiana DNR elected to close the Group Camp facilities five years ago. We tried some other venues, but eventually elected to use the remaining Tepicon Hall at the same park for events, while we seek to raise funds for our own facilities.
Of course, Camp Independence was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. Some felt we should postpone the 2021 event, but we felt it was important to reestablish our commitment to survival and preparedness in the wake of the very kind of disaster we have been predicting and preparing families for, for over fifty years.
Camp Independence 2021 was the 50th time we have conducted this program. The weather was perfect, and while there was a somewhat smaller turnout than usual, we were gratified to meet many of our loyal supporters from decades past, as well as plenty of new members.
The event began with a prayer and a moment of silence to remember three of our officers who have passed away in since the last event. Jim Jones, the organizations founder, pointed out that most of the founding members and many of the “core group” members from the 80s are in poor health and certainly will not be able to organize these events much longer. If there is to be a Camp Independence 2022, 23 etc. and other events, they must be initiated, organized and promoted by younger members. In view of recent events, and ongoing threats to life and freedom, it would be tragic if Camp Independence and Live Free USA were to wither away when they are needed most.
This year’s classes included “Ten Principles of Survival”, “Personal Security and Self-Defense”, “Black Powder Weapons” and “Knife Sharpening’. We had two instructors who canceled. We certainly would have liked to have had more outdoor activities, but due to continued concerns about the pandemic, and the short time for promotion, this was not possible. Thanks to the volunteers who provided food from the kitchen, and who helped clean up. Also, thanks to all who contributed prizes for the Survival Stuff raffle. We did accomplish a lot—and learn a lot—that we can build on for years to come. Camp Independence revived Live Free and set the stage for a new Live Free USA as we move forward.