How to Recruit Members to Your Survival Group

Recruiting members to your survival group was once a nearly unheard of idea. When the prepping movement really garnered top momentum at the turn of the century, most survivalists were either determined to go the lone wolf route, shied away from the use of the internet entirely or were active only under clever usernames for OPSEC reasons.

Today, prepping and survival groups abound online across all media platforms, even Pinterest, stepping out of the shadows to learn more, share more, and connect with other preppers.

By connecting with like-minded folks who share our same mindset and similar or more varied skill set, we become far more self-reliant and prepared to withstand whatever comes.

Surviving any type of long-term disaster is going to be a battle, make no mistake about that. There is no type of battle that you will ever fight where numbers won’t make a difference. Odds are you landed on this article because you already knew that.

It is finding the right type of people to bolster your prepping tribe that seems problematic, and not the knowledge that you need to do so to increase the chances that you are your loved ones will indeed be survivors and not become statistics in some SHTF death toll.

Thoughts to Ponder for the Undecided Reader

Are you taking a risk by letting your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and extended family know that you are a prepper? Yes.

The next steps you take when recruiting members to your survival group have to be measured, embarked upon with caution, and must be undertaken in the most intelligent and well-researched way possible.

You obviously do not want to just fly your prepper flag from your front porch, alerting everyone that you house is the one to go to or rob when disaster strikes.

There are two distinct types of people to court into your survival group: folks with skills who do not necessarily label themselves as preppers, and proud preppers in your area with which you may not be personally acquainted.

Carefully cultivated relations that are evaluated with each baby step you take when revealing that you are a prepper to skilled non-preppers and established preppers, alike.

When you are outing yourself as a prepper you do so by tipping your toe in the water and not just doing a big old cannonball in public waters. You guard your personal information and survival plan tightly, sharing only small parts when you are confident it can be done so safely, never before.

The folks you recruit to be members of your survival group must bring something to the table that will lighten your load, increase the skills of your existing group or family, and be willing to put skin in the game on a regular basis to train, enhance stockpiles, and complete vital prepping projects as a part of your tribe.

Member Recruiting Step 1 – Policies, Rules, and Repercussions

Put your best foot forward when recruiting either your first survival group member, or adding onto an established tribe. A group, a true group, will have a leadership structure that is clearly defined and approved by the founding members.

Any recruit accepted into the group must be allowed to review the governance documents and sign a document stating they understand and agree to abide by the established policy.

In additional to the foundational governance documents, a survival group should also have a policy document that details all of the rules, rights, responsibilities, and repercussions for breaking the rules of the prepping group.

All recruits must sign the document stating they understand and agree to follow all of the established rules – with the original being kept by the group and a copy being given to the recruit.

No matter how incredibly skilled and character driven a new member may seem, if he or she does not know upfront what is expected or agree to abide by those terms, you would likely have a revolt or disparity in the group at meetings, trainings, and during a disaster scenario.

Member Recruiting Step 2 – Preparations

Before you begin reaching out to others in any way as potential survival group recruits, you must determine what you are looking for in new tribe members, and develop a way to “grade” each person who is being considered for approach.

Making actual contact with a potential recruit before you have a plan in place to evaluate them and a set of survival group rules which they must agree to abide by is a recipe for disaster.

You must have a clearly defined set of goals for your survival group and know exactly what skills your tribe both has in abundance and is in need of the most.

Unless you have an unlimited budget, amount of land, and living quarters for your survival group, you can only take in X number of new preppers.

While it might seem like a huge score to find four new preppers who are all accomplished hunters or even medical professionals, if you are light on members who have a self-defense background or know how to grow and preserve their own groceries, filling all of your available recruit slots with preppers who share the avid hunters will leave your vulnerable in the other essential survival categories.

Another thing to take into consideration before recruiting starts is how many people each recruit would need to bring with them. It is best to complete the evaluation process outlined below entirely for each potential recruit before issuing an invite to join for even an outstandingly skilled member.

If you have space for only 10 new people total at your retreat and the first highly skilled member needs to bring four family members with him but a similarly skilled member you would meet later only needs to bring himself or a spouse, then your available space to take on more preppers would be unnecessarily reduced.

You should also consider giving the option to bring their own RV or build their own living quarters if you meet them or are contacted by them virtually after you have filled all the space you have established at your survival retreat – if natural resources available and the stockpile they will bring with them warrants such a decision.

Character Traits

Conduct a personal inventory of each person you are considering to recruit as a survival group member. No matter how long you have known them, even if they are flood related, put pencil to paper and review how they measure up to the essential character traits below.

To undertake such an inventory of a “stranger” prepper you meet online or at a local meet up event or militia meeting can take months.

Adding a member to your survival group is a process that simply cannot be rushed – your life will depend on the choices you make – this simply cannot be stated strongly enough.

You should plan on online, telephone, and multiple in person meetings with a potential survival group recruit that you have not known for years or are related to – in addition to shelling out about $50 for a complete background check on the person.

Top 10 Character Traits of Survival Group Recruits

  1. Integrity
  2. Work Ethic
  3. Dependability
  4. Intelligence
  5. Ingenuity
  6. Decisiveness
  7. Diligence
  8. Dedication
  9. Adapatibililty
  10. Ability to keep a secret

The folks you choose to focus upon as survival recruits will eventually learn all of your secrets. If you cannot trust them completely, they are not only of no use, but have the capability to become well-informed enemies.

Draw several columns on a piece of paper or insert a table on a blank computer document to create a checklist to gauge each potential survival recruit’s prowess with each character trait on a scale from 1 to 10 – or print our the sample table below.

Character Assessment Table

Recruit Integrity Work Ethic Dependability Intelligence Ingenuity Decisiveness Diligence Dedication Adaptability Ability to keep a secret


Every member of your survival tribe must bring at least one vital skills to the group. My husband and I decided a long time ago that we would never turn away family – no matter what, even the ones we might not like if we weren’t related – not even my liberal brother.

By doing so, we knew that although each person would score high on the character traits review, many would possess few critical survival skills.

This same scenario will likely materialize when you choose to invite a highly skilled recruit into your survival group that has a spouse or significant other (and children) that do not have a well-honed skill set.

Every person in the survival group must contribute or they will simply be dead weight and another mouth to feed – both things you can ill afford during a long-term disaster.

The first part of this section will address essential survival skills and scenarios to ponder in order to estimate how the recruit will react, and what they can bring to the table.

The second section involved thinking outside of the prepping box to other more common everyday and survival homesteading skills that new members may have, or can quickly be taught and what chores they can be tasked with to free up your more skilled group members, during a SHTF event.

Bobby shooting a firearm
My husband, Bobby, is an excellent shooter, as you can see.

40 Possible Skills and Career Backgrounds of Survival Recruits

  1. Military Veteran
  2. Law Enforcement Officer
  3. Firefighter
  4. Doctor
  5. Nurse
  6. EMS Medic or Paramedic
  7. Nurse’s Aid
  8. Veterinarian
  9. Pharmacist
  10. Herbalist
  11. Dentist
  12. Chiropractor
  13. Chemist
  14. Hunter
  15. Angler
  16. Gunsmith
  17. Trapper
  18. Carpenter
  19. Architectural Engineer
  20. Butcher
  21. Rancher
  22. Farmer
  23. Homesteader
  24. Scientist
  25. Mechanic
  26. Mason
  27. Martial Arts Instructor or Student
  28. Plumber
  29. Electrician
  30. Civil Engineer
  31. Welder
  32. Machinist
  33. Blacksmith
  34. Gardener
  35. Logger
  36. Handgun Proficiency
  37. Shotgun Proficiency
  38. Rifle Proficiency
  39. Bow Proficiency
  40. Knife Proficiency

When you are recruiting new survival group members, they will likely possess multiple skills in addition to the possibility of an emergency preparedness professional background.

I highly recommend also making a chart (or printing our sample one below to use) to record and perhaps apply a grade to each recruit’s potential assets.

Recruit Skill #1 Skill #2 Skill #3 Skill #4 Skill #5

man shooting while laying flat on the ground

Non-Survival Skills and Career Background

These skills are not directly survival related but can either be beneficial to have members who possess them in your group during a long-term disaster.

The spouses or significant others of skilled members can use these types of skills and knowledge to fulfill common daily needs on your survival homestead or prepper retreat that are important to the health, meals, and general well-being of the shared living areas and your small survival community.

Do not underestimate the benefits of creating an environment of normalcy during a SHTF event. Providing some morale boosting activities in addition to establishing some semblance of a routine home life can go a long way to preventing or reducing stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression for everyone in the survival group.

The skills in this section also gives everyone in the survival community a job to do and something of value to contribute – even the youthful and elderly members of the group.

Remember, a highly skilled person looking for a survival group to join can be a hotly sought after commodity. To get him or her to become a recruit member of your survival group you may also have to be willing to take in their children and parents, as well.

22 Non-Survival Skills of Survival Group Recruits

  1. Sewist – Seamstress
  2. Teacher – Homeschooling Parent
  3. Musician or Singer
  4. Member of the Clergy
  5. Child care worker or experience babysitter
  6. Food service worker
  7. Greenhouse worker
  8. Home canner or dehydrator
  9. Maid or Janitorial worker
  10. Art and crafts hobbyist or professional
  11. 4-H member
  12. Writer or Secretary – keeping organized records of crops, medicines, etc. will be important
  13. Camping or Hiking hobbyist
  14. Fitness instructor or hobbyist
  15. Dietician
  16. Scout member or leader
  17. Basket Weaver Hobbyist
  18. Ceramics worker or Hobbyist
  19. Wood Carver
  20. HAM radio operator
  21. Glass cutter or hobbyist
  22. Heavy equipment operator

When discussing both survival and non-survival skills with group recruits it is also good to add a notation to any activities or skills the person already has an interest in learning or is willing to learn as a part of their membership invitation.

man shooting while laying flat on the ground

Health and Physical Fitness

It is not unusual for a group to require recruits to submit to a physical and drug test during the first stage of consideration. Each recruit should also be willing to share his or her medical records and family history of disease and illness for evaluation.

An out of shape individual, a person with a physical disability, or a person who has a chronic condition for which they must take medication does not necessarily need to be ruled out.

The skills and knowledge such a recruit brings to the table can far outweigh the physical fitness, mobility, and health issues of concern. Such issues must be evaluated on an individual basis after you thoroughly review and discuss what each brings to the table during a SHTf event.

One of our most skilled survival tribe members is a diabetic, as is one of his six children. His diabetes is far more under control than his child’s. What he and his wife both bring to the table from a skills perspective far outweighs any longevity and medical supply drain concerns any seasoned prepper could have.

Because we know about the need for insulin now, we all have time to stockpile as much as possible, have a plan to keep it from going bad if the power grid fails (when – really), and to make a natural alternative to commercially manufactured insulin.

While we won’t know how well the natural alternative will work until forced to use it, a plan is in place to deal with the potentially life threatening issue.

Financial Records – Credit Check

If all members of the survival group are expected to share in the cost of building or maintaining a prepper retreat or contributing to agree upon supply and materials purchases, getting a financial history would be incredibly wise.

Even if the recruits do not have to pool their money for specific survival retreat purchases, the group may mandate each member purchase X amount of supplies to stockpile in a locked area inside the member’s living quarters for their own personal use when the SHTF.

Some prepping groups require a credit check even if the members do not have shared expenses simply to verify the responsible nature of the recruit. In turn, a recruit may ask for verification of your financial status for the very same reason.

SHTF Scenarios to Evaluate

Once you have an in-depth view of the potential survival group recruit’s character traits and skillset, it is time to move on to see how they would react and be of value in specific types of situations you are prepping to survive.

For this part of the study, review, and intake process, you will be doing more note taking and conversing than charting on a table. First, think or write down how each recruit’s character traits and skillsets would be of value or a problem in each SHTF scenario.

You can use this same list of doomsday disaster scenarios when you do an interview with the recruit or work them the topics into conversations during face to face meetings or chats.

  • EMP attack or solar flare that takes down the power grid
  • Economic collapse
  • Pandemic or epidemic
  • Conventional war on American soil
  • Nuclear war
  • Civil war
  • Flood
  • Hurricane
  • Tornado
  • Earthquake
  • Food shortage
  • Drought
  • Fuel shortage
  • Martial law
  • Attack by a marauding horde
  • Wildfire
  • Government collapse

Member Recruiting Step 3 – Connecting With Preppers

There are two primary ways to connect with other preppers or skilled individuals who might be preppers in the making: online and in your community.

Unless you know the person in your community is already a prepper, you will go about connecting with them differently than you would on a self-reliance social media platform, or in comments beneath a prepper story.

Recruiting Locally

No matter where you live there is likely at least one natural disaster that threatens or plagues the area on an annual basis. In my region of Appalachia we deal with flooding every fall and spring.

Using a “sane” prepping topic like this one to work with your neighbors, community members, and volunteer groups to better prepare the area to deal with the twice-annual flooding is a superb way to rub elbows with folks that are dedicated, responsible, diligent, hard working, and likely possess some skills that could be useful to you.

Attend or start a group meeting, or a local survival expo that specifically deals with prepping for a common localized weather related problem.

Spend time talking with the folks at the meeting to gauge their possible skill level and interest in taking their home protection and “life assurance” efforts a few steps further.

Connect with them on social media to get a better idea of their personalities and to forge a friendship that stems beyond the initial shared goal.

Once you have a rapport established and have decided this person could be a good recruit for your survival group, start sharing a little more about your self-reliance efforts in small doses.

Can you can your own jams and jellies? Make natural remedies from foraged material? Have a target range on your land? Stocked pond? Great hunting trails?

What activities you and your group does that you could share without risking OPSEC to entice the potential recruit to learn more about your self-reliance and prepping efforts?

As the relationship develops, you will be better able to determine if the new friend is a good fit for the group and shows enough interest in being prepared to tell them you have a survival group.

From there, still with primarily baby steps, you can enlighten them about the group, if you feel comfortable and they show interest.

12 Local Groups to Join or Places to Go to Meet Survival Group Recruits

  • Volunteer Fire Department
  • VFW – American Legion
  • Law Enforcement Auxiliary booster – volunteer group
  • Shooting Club – Gun Range
  • Hunting Club
  • Fishing Club
  • Gardening Club
  • Red Cross
  • 4-H
  • Gun Shows
  • Teach a class at a library or 4-H Extension Office that is self-reliance related
  • Take a gunsmithing class

Recruiting Online

There are a few ways you can go about meeting other preppers in your area online. You could join a free or paid online group via social media or a website, visit a website with a highly active comments section or forum, or attend prepper meetups in your state.

It might be hit or miss when seeking to connect with a prepper from your area via a comments section or forum, but the odds are you will get to know other preppers from your state.

I was a little surprised when multiple readers on The Survivalist Blog who comment regularly beneath my weekly column (they are dubbed, “The Pack”) were not only from my state, but lived within a short drive (in rural folks terms) from our survival retreat.

Prepping websites that require you to join either for free or a nominal cost offer a space for survivalist to connect with each other to recruit for prepping groups and to share valuable tips and hints.

Top Prepping Connection Websites

Top Prepper Groups On Social Media

Member Recruiting Step 4 – Conversation Starters, and Cautions

What you say, how you say it, and when you say are crucial for both OPSEC and attracting the right caliber of recruits.

Approach each new interaction slowly and never willingly share your full name, address, or specific information about your survival plan or survival group until you are ready to invite the person to become a recruit.


Protecting your personal information from anyone online is nearly impossible. If you use your real name when interacting on social media, online groups, online forums, and in the comments section of websites, all it takes is a simple Google search for anyone to find out far more about you than you are likely comfortable with.

When engaging in recruiting efforts online, I would highly recommend making up one first and last name for a man and a woman to represent your survival group.

This not only protects your personal information, but also allows every existing member of your survival group to log onto the same social media accounts and review the conversations and comments by and to the group.

When multiples from your group have access to the account it will be easier to manage timely responses and to keep the account highly active.

If you go this route, expect to spend hours setting up an online persona of a prepping couple that depicts what your self-reliance lifestyle is all about without giving away any personal details.

You should like and interact on all the pages, groups, photos, etc, that appeal to you to round out the faux prepping couple’s persona.

Include photos to make the persona appear highly authentic, but do not show expose the faces of anyone who poses in them or any distinguishing attributes of your survival retreat. Google Earth searches are quite advanced, a fact worth remembering.

Conversation Starters and Topics

  • Talk about prepping in general, including how and why you got started. Keep it informative and conversational and not preachy or condescending.
  • Do you part to debunk the stereotype of preppers depicted on reality shows to attract a higher caliber of potential recruits.
  • Discuss natural disaster preparedness, this is something all preppers on the same page or group can relate to, have a non-controversial opinion about, and can share some skills knowledge and stockpiling tips that can give you insight into their general level of preparedness and mindset.
  • The more logical and straightforward the prepping concept you want to discuss is, the more folks will be willing to throw their two bits in about – keeping the conversation going and attracting more comments from other preppers in the process. Instead of asking whether folks in the group are prepping for a nuclear war, ask how others are prepping for a lengthy power outage in case a predicted weather event happens. This expands on the earlier topic of weather issues but throws in some very important off grid prepping topics that can bring more of the potential recruit’s skills and mindset to light.
  • Ask for tips on topics that are more pointed and obscure, and on ones that you or a survival group members are an expert in. This will help you to pull more information from the potential recruit in a low key way that will again aid in determining their skill level and mindset.

Next Steps

Stage 1

Unless the online group you are in is localized or state-specific, you have to narrow down your potential recruit pool to a reasonable geographic area. Make a log of every person a member of your survival group interacts with that includes checking out their profile to find out their location.

Begin a folder on any person of interest that lives close enough to be a prospective recruit. Print out or copy and paste all interacts with the person, and other details and photos you can find related to them on social media or via online searches that sheds more light on who they are.

Increase your group interactions with this person, tag them in comments or send them survival related tidbits or other funnies they might enjoy on a consistent but not overwhelming or stalking basis to establish more rapor and create a real online friendship.

Stage 2

If the second stage goes well and creates more interaction that proves out your theory of their potential recruit status, begin chatting with them privately online or via texting.

Start these conversations with questions they might be able to help you with that are survival related, or sharing of a garden or gun photo privately – telling them you thought they would like to check it out but the image wasn’t something you wanted to share publicly for OPSEC reasons.

Gauge their response to OPSEC and the topic the carefully chosen photo is about to again to learn more about this potential recruit.

Stage 3

Ideally, there should be at least a phone conversation between you and the recruit before moving forward with information about your survival group.

You could message the person and ask that they call you if they have not yet shared their phone number, because you needed some tips on a project that was simply too long and detailed to message about. Not being willing to give up a phone number at this stage should not be a deal breaker.

Since you live near each-other, consider sharing information about a gun show, training class or something that would seem of interest to the person, and invite them to attend so you can have a casual meeting in a public space.

If no such event is occurring and you are certain you want this person in your group enough to risk OPSEC, you could set up some type of a training at your place with only other group members in attendance, and invite your new online prepping pal.

Renting space at a campground or similar area to hold a training of some type is also an OPSEC worry free option, as well.

Whichever way you decide to communicate, private message, phone, or in person, now would be the time to have an introductory conversation about you being part of or the leader of a survival group. Hopefully, the response will be, “Wow, really?” and followed up by questions that rely interest in joining.

Stage 4

If this conversation takes place on the phone or at a public event and goes well, schedule a time to go have a drink or bite to eat or hit the shooting range with the recruit and a handful (not an overwhelming number) of group members to give the recruit a better sense of the dynamic of the group.

At the second conversation or meeting, bring along some type of a welcome gift for the recruit that showcases the skills and offerings your self-reliance tribe has created together.

This could be dehydrated fruit or vegetables that you grew, quality compost that you cultivated, a little ceramic or leather item that someone in the tribe made, a homemade bow out of PVC that was part of youth training, deer jerky, a little off grid or campfire cookbook of the group’s favorite recipes, etc.

If the recruit has a family, make the second meeting a gathering with other spouses and children to again, better showcase the dynamic of the group and this time to allow a full meet and greet with all group members that are willing to attend.

Perhaps at this meeting it will be time to go over the group governance and rule book, only you will know if that stage has been reached or if such things should still be relayed just verbally in broad strokes.

It may take additional meetings either away from or on the prepper retreat before the survival group is ready to hand out the formal paperwork and turn the recruit into a member.

Always use caution when bringing recruits to the survival retreat or giving a full tour. It is not necessary to do so until the final meeting where group paperwork is shared.

This “getting to know you” phase will likely takes weeks or months. You might want to approach this person quickly about joining the group because they seem like a perfect fit and as we all know, the S can HTF at any moment.

But, do not rush this process. Think of it as dating. You would not ask someone to get engaged or move in with you after just knowing them a few weeks or even 60 days, right?

The relationship you are cultivating with this person who was just an online stranger a few days ago, is geared to a possibly lifelong cohabitation – one in which your life might just be in their hands.

member recruiting pin

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4 thoughts on “How to Recruit Members to Your Survival Group”

  1. “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member”. Groucho Marx
    The few if any that you can rely on in a pinch have already met the criterion, then there’s the rest! Regards

  2. Excellent article and a great layout for those who realize that going it alone means losing a lot of safety and needed skill sets. There is of course a down-side to clubbing up: but I think it’s worth it. The more people in your cadre, the less secrecy you’ll be able to maintain. After all, if you add a primary member who brings with him or her her family…well, the old truism that “two can keep a secret if one of them is dead” comes into play.
    I’ve been involved in developing two prepper groups over many years. It was during the creation of the second that we decided that there needed to be two levels. The main group which recognized and interacted within the organizational tree and the much smaller operations group which determined (and guarded) the operational perimeters. It never took too long for people outside the group to recognize it’s existence. Someone will always mention something to a friend or coworker (And kids always talk to other kids.) But that can actually be a benefit. Our prepper community hosts meet-and-greet barbiques and created a “neighborhood” phone tree and an emergency radio com system which included locals not in our group. With these tools and some of the common sense suggestions outlined in your article concerning prepper training for the small problems, we’ve created an outer group of folks who, while not part of our full-time group, are less likely to need immediate assistance in the event of larger disruptions. We’ve also – as a result – lowered local concerns about those ‘nuts’ within our AO.

    • Thank you Don. The way you prep sounds a lot like the way we engage in survival homesteading, tribe organization, and community outreach, as well.


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