What would you look for in a survival group?

I have had an interest in joining or creating a survival group in my local area for some time. I have some ideas as to what I see as the structure, purpose, and interactivity of such a group. So far  – no luck.


It is not easy to find like-minded folks. It is also not easy to find like-minded folks that you can trust. Good people. I want to be associated with good people. No racists. No criminals. No one with tin-foil hats on. Must be responsible, law abiding folks. Serious about their prepping but not so serious that they fail to live and enjoy life now. They should have an ability to provide skills and/or supplies to the benefit of the entire group. Each group member should be responsible for themselves and their family and rely on the group for shared work and security in numbers.

The group has to agree on certain things. Things such as where would the group go if the SHTF? Would they go anywhere at all or possibly just communicate with each other via HAM after the event? How will a secondary location be funded? Is there one person that makes the final decisions in the group or is it always based on voting? Do you standardize firearms? What if a group member decides to leave, but they know all about plans, locations, and supplies? What if the group decides one member should not be a member any more?

A lot of things to think about.

Right now I know of only a couple people that I think would fit into such a group that I would be a member of. I have found that people far too often feel that THEY have to be the ones that make the decisions. To find a group of people that I would be associated with in development of a survival group – I would have to be able to get along with everyone and have similar beliefs and expectations. A tall order I think.

I have friends that I think would make great group members. Unfortunately – they are not preppers – not even close.

I’ll keep looking.

If you were to create or join a survival group – what would you look for in the group and in its members?

– – – Rourke

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45 thoughts on “What would you look for in a survival group?”

  1. I’d look for compatibility….common beliefs, goals, people who are willing to compromise and can discuss things without getting angry. You’d have to set up some type of “government” or “protocol” or else it would be a big mess! Leaders would need to be elected/appointed. You would need clear boundaries. It seems like it would be very difficult to do. Just thinking about it gives me more respect and admiration for our Founding Fathers.

  2. I got lucky, and for a time, had a group that was just what you were looking for. We found each other through a common tangent; something else we all shared interest in that required many of the traits and commitments a prepper group would need to succeed. This tangent already had a structure and an avenue that facilitated the gathering of like-minded and motivated individuals. Even so, it took us a couple years to realize we could share other vital interests beyond what the original purpose of our gathering was for. However, by then we had established a level of trust that made it exceptionally easy to take the next step. Since the initial purpose of our gathering required us to be respectable, law abiding and productive citizens, any character issues that would’ve caused apprehension were not a factor. In fact, the nature of our initial common interest fairly ensured our political views would be compatible for the most part.

    What was the initial activity that brought us together? We were all Hunter Education Instructors for the State and part of the same regional team. I would suggest if you want to find people of integrity that are like minded about prepping and proven to be able to work together, you should look into becoming one. It may not lead to anything, but it is one of the best avenues I can think of for the possibilty. Teaching hunting and firearms safety, survival, ethics, and sportsmanship to kids regularly will tell you a lot about the character of the people you are teaching with, and the state qualifies them as good citizens, or they wouldn’t be allowed in the program. I am sure you can see all the tangents of that program that work well in a prepper scheme.

  3. Trust no one. With that being said, the only people allowed into my bug out location is my family and a few close friends. =)

  4. Groups are not made or joined they are cultivated. My little tribe consist of 4 primary members, my Alfa’s are 1 MD, 1 DDS, 1 Pastor and myself. From the 4 we add our wives, which brings us to 8, adult children who don’t know they are part of the group, but if the SHTF they will come running. Not to protect or aid us, but for the protection we provide them and our grand children.

    Just my branch of the survival tree is close to 40 persons, but I know if the SHTF one third my actually make it to safety.

    I started with myself as “The Sheepdog” and over the years cultivated the relationships with doctors, pastors and others. Initially with talks of the eminent financial collapse. The doctors just came to me this year and asked what they needed to do. Since I was the source I issued specific standardized ammo, equipment and weapons list. I gave them requirements for food, seed water filtration, but to go try out the stuff and see what they like. This gives the group some verity and doesn’t put all our eggs in one basket. Some seed companies are better then others and I don’t want it all from a sole source in case of problems.

    I don’t care to survive any event, but I do want to survive a natural disaster, pandemic, depression or financial collapse. If its an ELE just let me take a direct hit and I’ll see you in heaven!!

    Our group is not the best of friends. We don’t hang out together, live together or even like the same stuff, but if the SHTF we all are prepared and singing off the same sheet of music. Lets face it it just like the military, you can do all the training in the world, but until you are in combat, know one knows if they will fire or fail, and quite frankly I don’t want my Doc’s or Pastor on the front line. Until the younger ones are in place and battle tested though the 4 old salty dogs will have to do tricks.

    Who will the other members be? I don’t know, but Its my hope to grow into a community again. That’s my view from under my Tin Foil Hat.

  5. I’ve taken a different approach of selecting certain folks who I suspect to be shy preppers, or valuable resources, to check in with me if things go really bad. It’s not foolproof, but it’s better than nothing. My wife is of the opinion that only we should know how well prepared we are. It solves some of the problems ahead of time. The four are a nurse, a craftsman, a former pistol competitor who wasn’t able to become a cop after a bad accident, and a cook who can do something good with anything we give her. Total of three families that get along well already, and we have some cross coverage in key areas, and everyone’s already “decent God-fearing folk”.

  6. Its virtually impossible to build a neighborhood survival community, which is the only way to really build it. Have people spread out across a town or worse, across multiple towns, is unlikely to work because you will not be able to share manpower to secure a shared area. Transporting resources can be come a problem if the road become impassible because of fires, damaged roads, or just violent crimes (perhaps snipers preying on drifters to take there resources). Its also possible that travel might be illegal if the Marshall law is enacted, or some other circumstances (destroyed bridges, nuclear fallout from nuke plant meltdowns). During a crisis, most preppers will not leave their home to help you because they will fear that their neighbors or drifters will raid their supplies if they leave their home. So everyone will be stuck in place and spread out once the crisis unfolds. It might be weeks or months after the crisis begins before preppers are able to meet up and share resources. by then it may be too late.

    The only way I see you can achieve a neighborhood survival community, if one person poses the finances to acquire sufficient land and resources to support a community, or a group of people choose to purchase a large property to build a shared community. The issue with shared property is that people change over time or may be forced to relocate because of job, no longer get along with the others, lose interest, become complacent, orbecome lazy and expect to ride on the coat tails of the other members. Really the only long term workable solution is a person that has sufficient financial resources to support a community.

    Its likely that the only true survival community will be roving gangs that band together in order to use their manpower to acquire resource they need to survive. Because they are mobile and live nomadic, there are no fixed assets that they need to protect. I suspect that most urban\suburban preppers will end up apart of roving gangs, since they will lack the resources for a long term crisis (eventually their stockpiles will deplete or will be forced to flee because of unchecked wildfires, flooding, etc) and will be forced to go mobile to survive. Since they pose firearms, camping equipment, and other survival gear it will be easy for them to join a roving gang. Perhaps some gangs will be peaceful (raiding only abandon dwellings) but its very likely they will be forced to use violence if they wish to survive.

    As I see it, the only logical option for preppers is to locate to rural locations which will not be targeted by gangs. The gangs will choose to focus on regions that offer the most opportunities while expending the least amount of time and energy. They are not going to ride or walk down a long road that might have a few homes since its unlikely to provide sufficient resources for the labor and time invested to locate and secure them. Of course this presents challenges for most preppers since they lack fund to acquire sufficient land and set up the necessary resources for long term survival. Also jobs can be difficult in rural regions.

    Buying a rural property while living in the city isn’t really a workable solution because unoccupied homes are frequently broken into and looted. Just this spring a fellow I know that has a retreat property he has been working on for the past four years was completely trashed. They took everything of value except the gun safe. However in their attempt to break into the safe, it the safe was trashed to point access to the safe contents was impossible. The only way to open the safe is with a welding torch. As the economy continues to worsen, crime will get much worse, and so will the number break ins. It will be very difficult to secure a stocked rural retreat.

    A neighborhood survival community will need approximately 6 acres of land per person for long term self-reliance (more or less depending the region – Much more if living in dry, desert like regions, less in subtropical regions). Consider that it takes on about 2 acres of farm land to feed one person for an entire year. You can’t just plant an acre of corn or some other monocrop and eat the same thing 365 days a year. You need to plant a variety of crops to provide proper nutrition. You must also account for crop rotation since many crops will deplete the soil of vital nutrients, causing crop yields to plummet. You also need to grow more than one years of food each growing season as insurance against crop failures (drought, disease, infestations, late\early frosts, etc). You will also need plenty of firewood for cooking (all year around) and for heating during the cold winter months. You may wish to grow small livestock, fish, or chickens as a source of protein (meat, eggs, and milk). Perhaps you will wish to plant fruit and nut trees, how about vines and bushes (grapes, raspberries, blueberries, etc). The more varieties of foods you wish to have the more land will be required to support them.

    I Hope this was useful.

  7. Ideally, you would only pick people that you really trust and that can add something to the group’s overall survival effort. I say that in a “Bug Out” situation, where several families meet at a planned location and form a community. If you plan to “Bug In” as we do, you are far more limited in selecting members for your clan. Unless, of course, you already own a large home or farmhouse with ample room to invite your family and close friends. In our case, we don’t have space to accommodate guests. So, we are stuck with a few neighbors that we really don’t know that well. I would say that we are close with one family in five that surround our home. One household is occupied by drug dealers, so we won’t be trusting or allying with them. Some preppers may question why we are dealing with the other 3 households at all, since we are not socially involved and have not worked on survival tasks together. I would answer that with the old saying “There is safety in numbers”. As a family of 4, we are hard pressed to keep up adequate security. We are actually the largest family in the proposed group. Two of the households that we trust have just a husband and wife and one home has a sole occupant. I suspect that they all will be anxious to add the firepower that my family brings to the table. As far as structure goes, there should be specific outlined duties and expectations from each member of the group. Being a career military man, I favor a set up that mirrors an Army unit.

  8. We formed a 2 groups one at our bug out location and one where some of us live in a city. We made a mistake by bringing in a friend. The mistake was he changed or his true colors came out. We dumped him but he doesn’t know it. We are looking for military training and just plain hard workers. We have a medical staff, preachers, and also a dentist. Its so hard to figure out who to trust and who to bring in.

  9. Rourke,

    While I don’t belong to a group, my brother and I work and plan together. Our two families are prepping as much as we are able and is practical. I would say that common beliefs and mindsets are essential. I first look for believing and practicing Christians, loyalty, honesty, and integrity. We are both veterans and understand the value of skill sets. Ideally it would be great to have members that are experts in specific fields. However, I would compromise some on skill sets for good people.


  10. A while ago a tried to start a local emergency preparedness group. I had several responses, setup multiple meeting times and ABSOLUTELY nobody bothered to show. I don’t get it. People are flaky. I gave up. Now it’s just a survival group of one… one family, that is.

  11. We, my husband and kids, look for people who have the same worry. The only problem is they expect us to do all the searching. We have come to believe that only we should know about what we’re doing. The individuals we have planned on bugging out with us–want to, but don’t want to contribute anything. Their thinking is, “it’s not our property, and we don’t want to put a lot of money into getting somebody elses property ready”. well, they’re right. It is our property, but for this to work EVERYBODY has to cntribute something. We are so far ahead of the people who want to be in our group………..as I told my husband “We’re doing all the canning, getting our property ready, buying ammo, etc……and they want to sit back and use our resources without contibuting anything!” What do we do?

  12. I look for folks that are able to work around differences and not be hung up on showstoppers like politics, religion etc where we may have small differences of opinions but NOTHING that is worthy of destroying our common goal. I look for various talents as a variety is needed and if we are all 11Boos then only 11B stuff will excel and other areas will fail. This all takes time and after the core is established then all must be in agreement before additions are made. I look for folks who are driven by other things outside of hatred for whatever or paranoia that have grounded beliefs and realistic life examples of why they are into prepardness.
    So far i’m blessed with 4 other families who are willing to train, learn, teach and grow. We are at the MAG stage and still growing. We meet monthly but have also began doing other things together like shooting and working on each others projects as a team. We share things we harvest or make as well. We all have the same core religion beliefs but do not attend one anothers churches which is not an issue at all.
    It’s a long hard road and not even doable for many it seems as our need for OPSEC also keeps us from expanding our horizons. I wish you all luck as it is an impossible tasking to embark on by yourself.

  13. There are some good posts here; I particularly like Patriot One. The only “future problem” I foresee is you’ve got licensed MDs in the group (that’s an “assumption”, of course), and, in all likelihood, the only “medicine” they know is the sick American medical model, such as is sanctioned by the AMA so they can keep their licenses, and such as is supported by Big Pharma and their $$$ machine. Bottom line? When the SHTF, if all you have is this, you don’t have a great deal of practical knowledge on “medicine” or medical treatment that is available and FUNCTIONAL in the survival scenario – although, they would surely be useful in how to do some procedures, such as setting bones, surgeries (hopefully), and more advanced activities – UNLESS I’m wrong – and at least one of them DOES know that what they have been doing is not good “survival medicine” AND has been “prepping” with that in mind.

    Just my opinion, of course.

    Just make sure SOMEBODY in the group knows something about Alternative Medicine, herbs (I hope they’re growing plants and saving seeds), use of each, contraindications of each, natural treatments in the natural world, and health care when there is no doctor (or dentist, for that matter). Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy have the best primer, in my opinion. And there are always the books, “When There is No Doctor”, and “When There is No Dentist”, to help guide along.

    Good books are always wise, but, when the SHTF is not the best time to “learn”; it’s the best time to put it into action – and learning takes time; life will be stressful enough, I’m sure. So, learn it now.

    And then there’s the food we’re storing; if you’re storing all MREs (for example), you’re asking for trouble with your health. If you’re changing your diet drastically, you’re asking for trouble with your health. Again, there will be enough stress to go around without deliberately doing things to add to the stress level.

    As to “who” should be part of my group? I’d rather have two very dependable, well-trained members than 20 who are not. This is not going to be a time when safety will be found in numbers, in my opinion.

  14. WOW…wishing I could fab up individuals who would fit a particular job or personality would be neet. Having moved to my area only a year ago..I have found several like minded individuals, who in a situation would pull together. The only problem is we are scattered throughout our area. That could present a problem, BUT we are all involved in emergency services in some type. As Patriot One indicated, “We don’t hang out together”, but we do work together. IN fact, neither of us actually came out stating that they were “preppers”, but talk came aroud to that agenda. Being in the Bible-Belt, I have no fear of not having a good faith based team.

    There is always need for some type of “organizational” control, “control” being a bad choice of words. The past four years have shown various preppers how things can turn and fears grow. Faith in God making the right decisions, and being “prepared” for “disasters” of any type is where we stand.

    We can not stop the future, but we can make things a tad more bearable by planning ahead.


  15. I have tried making contact through prepper forums, but had a weird experience, so I stopped that. I still worry about that guy, who now knows where we live and some of what we have. At least he met us with two babies in hand, which makes me think he isn’t all bad. But, after several talks, he suddenly disappeared.

    On the other hand, I must tell you that everyone I talk to out here in the country will sooner or later start talking about preps of one sort or another. I went out to buy a dairy goat and the family had some huge water tanks in their back yard. Hmmm…I thought. With just the mention of a prepper buzz word or two, they opened up and we are now in frequent contact, sharing information and techniques. The man that came to estimate putting in my woodstove, after some discussion of the economy, admitted that he is prepping. This time, both of us were a little cautious, but information still began to flow back and forth. At a small town store, the clerk turned out to be doing it and neighbors, of course, are of a similar mind.

    The easiest “in” with strangers right now is the economy. You can litter your conversation with loaded terms like prep, survive, sustainable, open-pollinated, grid down, etc. Look for the light of recognition in their eyes. Believe me, as soon as the gate is opened, you will find others eager to share how they are getting ready and perhaps you will find some that will draw together for the common good. So far, using this method, I have only discovered others that are hunkered down with their own extended families as group members. I have faith that the Lord will put the right people in my path at the right time.

    I have an elderly neighbor who has the twenty acres adjoining my forty. He is a workin’ fool and I have watched him install a windmill, a big pond, and helped him fence the line between us. I have used my buzzwords, but haven’t gotten a response out of him. Nevertheless, I keep him and his wife close by taking them excess garden produce and just calling over there to see how they are doing. I think this guy is a prepper, but he just doesn’t know it. Little by little, I am cultivating him, if for no other reason than to have my back door covered. However, I think we will join forces and work together easily if SHTF. Knowing his basic life style, skills, energy level and general way of thinking assures me that here is someone I can count on and I hope I have done the same for him.

    Other neighbors are also being cultivated, though not with such dedication. I think it will take a big event to wake them up, but at least they are preppers by nature, having lived in the country all their lives. Again, I am leaving the endgame in God’s hands while doing the day-to-day work that lets my neighbors know that I am reliable and skilled, industrious and interested in all things related to country living.

  16. Being Libertarian would be at the top of the list for a group in my opinion. Without Constitutionalism and those who know that our country was founded on a Biblical foundation, I feel discontent would quickly grow.

  17. The problem you have with groups is that people, in the group, who are your friends now could be your enemies later. You really never know how people will react until you get to a real emergency. The only people, in my group, are my family members. Even with them, I not sure of a couple of them.

  18. Pick carefully. History and common sense tells us that either you will have to kill them or they will kill you. Groups of unrelated people in stressful situatons tend to rebel and try to take over. Numerous studies aveshown that thge ideal group size for a long term stressful event is two people. Three or more will always devolve into opposing groups eventually leading to arguements and fights between the two (or more) groups. Probably picking group members will sow the seeds of failure.

  19. Mr Rourke,

    You ask a question which often prevents groups from every evolving. A survival/prepper group is very unique. Folks in it join together to build the trust, fellowship and resources to sustain themselves during one of many possible future events while all the time underwriting their normal daily lives. Thus by the very nature of the time line involved over months and years people will come and go for various and often innocent reasons. We just live with that and trust God on that point as well as our previous vetting and gut feelings.

    I have been and am a survival/group leader and may I humbly add a successful one. To become that and sustain it with matching growth I needed to first learn from others. What to do and what not to do. I both gleaned from the failed groups and more successful groups which there a very few of. I then filtered it all through quiet meditation and thought.

    As a result I have come to conclusion with other long term groups that in order to weather the storms of life in terms of a survival/prepper group it needs a core leader or leadership. In terms of a retreat location this means one person or family owns it…group ownership simply fails. The long term leadership must be tied in with the retreat location ownership. Therein is the solid foundation for others to attach to. People simply need to see stability in the leadership and location which will endure the years of waiting….

    The leadership must always be viewing the operation from the eyes of being a member as well as their being a leader. The members must also learn to view the mission as per what is best for the groups over all heath and success above their own wants. They must learn the success of the group as a healthy whole directly determines their individual success in a survival mode.

    I respectfully disagree with those who believe voting by the group is a critical issue. Nothing will ever get done and as the numbers vary in size and content the voting outcomes will change. Our group has very little to ever vote on as we address everything we can possible see ahead of time.
    Voting still remains a tool in the tool box but with wise foresight it will seldom be needed. I have found simply asking what others think and what their suggestions are works much better to develop a group.

    Now this brings me to just who would I even bother to ask? Certainly not a person who has not already proven their determination to be a survivor during and though out a real crisis event. I find the only way to determine what backs up their talk and plans is… their stack of stuff. Yes their well thought out supplies and their ability to financially continue to wrap it all up. Sorry folks but when it comes time to put your fair share into the daily cook pot during a crisis everyone else will expect you to have your said long term supplies to draw from. It is the core leaderships role to be sure all that is there in every possible new members life. Not promises and certainly not the fact they think they or their loved ones deserve to be saved.

    This may sound harsh but the proof is in the pudding not in one’s thinking. I have been building our group from a pool of serious preppers who contact me. Floating behind me in my wake are the hundred of other contacts which failed to pre-qualify… mainly due to their wrong thinking, lack of sustained drive and ability to match their plans with the required cash. Prepping is expensive…very expensive as you are building an alternate life, with alternate supplies (food, clothing, resources) all outside and away from your normal daily lives.

    I have found good solid preppers are great people. They have learned to leave the land of make believe and entitlement thinking into the realm of reality. Few of us are there…. trust me on that one 😉 Good solid clear thinking preppers already have a stack of stuff. You think I am wrong…fine.

    No worries. However to be fair let me share this week I am interviewing three separate possible members and all three are serious preppers who have contacted me. How do I know they have crossed the line in their thinking? First and foremost by their actions and the stuff. As Paul said in the new testament…

    Show me your Faith by your Works…not your talking heads.

  20. Our prepper group started out by having articles in the local newspapers and inviting people to join. We meet in the fellowship hall of a local church so while it isn’t a religious group it does weed out a few nut jobs that might be leery of going to a church. Our primary mission so far has been to educate and we welcome any and all, no meeting attendance requirements, no dues, etc. Ours is a very diverse group with all ages and so far after attending a couple of meetings I am very impressed with what I have found. We have one member we call Dr. Prepper, several members of volunteer fire departments, rescue groups and law enforcement. A few of us sell food from various online companies and I did a demonstration and tasting display for my Thrive business. We are looking to start a food co-op soon. The best I can tell, we have no extremists, crazies or anything of the like in our group. We are just getting started but so far have almost 200 members in our area of North Alabama.

    Anyone interested in checking out our website is welcome to go to http://www.marshallpreppers.com and look around.

  21. Like Patriot One said close groups are cultivated. Our group formed from a Meetup.com preppers group we started. We use the meet up group to find like minded individuals and the skill sets we need.

  22. We have a core group of four, plus families. We have all known each other for decades and have shot competitively and gone “operational” together. (I had an odd business for awhile) I have taken it on to standardize certain items and purchase them (tac gear, comms, meds/antibiotics, silver,and ammo) as a group buy (the others then pay off thier bills monthly)I wrote and sent out “reports”(suggestions) on 72 hr kits, food, meds/training, silver, long term items, and also community memos (water, garden, solar, fire, defense) We have put a lot of work into this and have a prepared retreat out in the sticks that will support 12-14 in relative safety and comfort.Although I have preped most of my life the others have not. Just the same we have done all of this in about the past year. No we are not well off just focused working stiffs. Regards, D.

  23. Preppers/survivalists tend to be loners or at least not joiners. Also tend to be secretive about their plans. If you lived next door to me, we would probably talk and share info, maybe make a few tentative plans, trade,sell or give surplus equipment, you know, be friends. And if SHTF, who knows. But joining forces would take a while and most likely one of us would benefit more than the other. I would probably be the most benefited. I would do what I could to assist your survival, but there are limits. I have talked to a number of guys around here that are beginning preppers but at the end of our conversation, we said goodbye and best of luck, each perhaps a little better off for our meeting but nothing further planned. I have some ideas and plans but nothing specific I wish to share. Family and blood are a place to start but sometimes not. As I told my father in law the other day when he said he would come here in times of problems: “when you get here I’ll look through the window and ask what are you bringing to the party? and if you don’t have a good answer, don’t worry, we will come wave to you everyday but you’ll remain outside”. Now of course, I lied to him because I try to have enough for those close to me and he’s welcome but he needs to prepare somewhat and not depend on me to provide for him. Now Rourke, if you and I formed a group you wouldn’t mind if I brought in all my relatives and friends to use up our supplies because they didn’t bother to prep, would you?
    A group is special and it takes something special to bond it together and I don’t think it can be defined or quantified. To misquote Groucho, I wouldn’t want to belong to a group that would have a person like me as a member. Best of luck to you.
    Let me try that again. I am not sure that you can put a group together for survival. It’s like describing what your spouse should be. You join together because of similar interests and compatibility and attraction. You give it a go and only time will tell. A group is much more complex and fragile than a marriage but it can hold together for a common purpose for a period of time. Best of luck to you.

    • Thanks Ted –

      You can bring as many people as you want as long as you provide food, water and resources for them!!

      Take care – Rourke

  24. Rourke, we thought youd never ask-smile-of course we will join your group-or join ours- we have 167 acres of land,( too bad we cannot transport the earth!!!!)
    2 years worth of supplies and have been prepping for many years.The last two very seriously.
    A group is challenging seriously. I believe for this to work every person and every duty must be treated with dignity and respect. Each member must contribute in supplies,talent and integrity in a complementary way.The group will only be as strong as the quality of every member. Honesty, good communication skills, shared faith(or an honoring of one anothers faiths) and values are necessities. Thanks for this excelleny question and discussion.
    I met a few “preppers” at a Cooperative extension class on dehydrating but no one was willing to remain in touch outside of the class.I n order to survive each member would have to be willing to lay down their life for one another.
    I am ready to do so for people I love now (family and a couple of friends) and in time hopefully the survival group would come to be a family in the finest sense. Arlene

  25. Rourke, so happy that your wife went to the Charlotte gathering and that you both learned so much.I am sure that you also brought some very important views and life exp. to contribute.Arlene

  26. Our group is mostly family – me and the spousal unit, 4 kids and their significant others, and 3 grandkids (all too young to be anything other than gator bait – jk). We also have a nephew and his girlfriend as well as a few others who have been told where to go if they feel like the world is getting a little too weird for their piece of mind. Most of those are either former military or hunting buds who I think have some idea of what the future may hold and who would bring some skill set to the group.

    We have nurses (trauma specialty), EMT’s, construction folks, engineers, and others who have experience in dealing with unusual circumstances or situations not found in a book. All of them have (mostly willingly, some grudgingly) helped out around the homestead and have an idea of what it takes to work cattle, goats, and other livestock as well as dig food out of the dirt and fish out of the pond.

    I have enough food and water as well as the means to produce same to maintain a healthy population numbering between 2 and 3 dozen. This is based on simple farming techniques, heirloom crops (less produce, but it will reproduce each year), and limited off the grid power (wind mill and hand pump for water, some photcells and wind turbines for power, and quantities of stabilized fuels). We sell a lot of beef and produce now, but only with outside help (Juan, Julio, and Ernesto) and modern techniques. All of that would decrease dramatically in a SHTF situation, not to mention I would run the 3 stooges back across the river. My dog’s not to fond of Julio anyway, so it might be better in the long run.

    I have stocked up on a lot of different items, but most of it is stuff we use everyday. We could probably get by without a visit to Costco for 2 or 3 years – after that we’ll be learning to do without toilet paper and toothpaste. I am about at the limit of what I can rotate and use without hiring an IT department to keep track of every can and box, so I tend to just replace rather than acquire. Having stuff is not that hard, figuring out how to preserve it and what to do if you have to displace is the hard part.

    Answering Rourke’s question is difficult. Each person will have very unique circumstances. What can you offer the group – stuff, skills, a decent location, or liquid assets? How do you make certain you have teamed up with a group that will see you as a necessary asset? You want to be family or absolutely indespensible; otherwise, you may find yourself kicked out when the going is really tough. You might even find yourself on the menu if it’s really bad. My situtation seems to be pretty rare. We have a productive family farm with a decent size family close enough to be reasonably sure most of them will show up if the SHTF. We’re the center point that everyone else orbits around. I would find it difficult to try to adjust my orbit to be near somebody I wasn’t really, really certain about their abilities and intentions. Loners are not in a good position, but it’s certainly better than being the one disposable member of a group.

    I try to teach my kids to be a predator under all circumstances. If they’re by themselves, they become a fox. They get the little bunnies and an occaisional squirrel, but avoid the folks with bigger or more teeth. Team up with one or two others and they become a pack of wolves. Able to take on deer, elk, and moose, but generally avoiding grizzley bears. Five to ten and they become a pride of lions – not much can oppose them. At the homestead with the entire team in place and they become velociraptors. I’m still trying to figure out how to create a team of T Rex’s. It’s a dumb analogy, but for my kids it has worked to create an image of where they stand in the food chain under differing circumstances.

    • Harry –

      Thanks for the info. Sounds like you are set very well.

      Love your analogy at the end regarding the kids.

      Take care – Rourke

  27. It is NEVER going to be easy.My adult kids and my ex-wife know where I am running-to. My former-neighbor, an LDS-year-supply-prepper-ER-nurse knew, but she moved away to avoid a family-stalker, and no further contact. My current GF doesn’t take it seriously. Finding the right group is not a simple thing.

  28. I still feel fairly new to this whole preparedness thing, but I will try to answer this question the best I can. So far some of the most organized preparedness groups I’ve come across have actually been small churches or church small groups that meet every week at least. It’s been fairly surprising how many smaller churches have been getting on board with this whole preparedness thing. These church groups already have the benefit of knowing one another, having similar beliefs, a pastor or teacher of some sort that already functions as the leader and already have an organized scheduled meeting time every week.
    Since my church group meets weekly, we have a lot more opportunities to exchange ideas and make plans. There are a few former military members in our small group, a few with gardening and agriculture experience, and my husband and I are currently in nursing school. Each family or member of our small church group tries to be as independently prepared as possible, but we also put stuff back for the group as well. None of us are wealthy by any means so we’ve also decided to put different families in charge of purchasing and maintaining some of the more expensive items (grain mills, canning equipment, etc) so each family has something different to add to the group. We also work as a group and as individuals to learn skills that would be useful in a survival situation. For example, one of our members lives in the country and has a decent number of chickens. He invited some of us over and taught us about caring for chickens and how to butcher them as well. I’ve been trying to teach myself more about gardening, how to preserve food, as well as really diving into my nursing studies and learning as much as I can by studying and finding ways to shadow nurses at my local hospital and learn from them.
    Even though we have our difference I really feel comfortable having these people as part of my group. We already help each other through financial hardships, illness, joblessness and family deaths. I think its important to spend a decent about of time together because you learn more about the people you’re with as well as more about yourself. The more time I spend with my group the more I learn about my strengths and weaknesses mentally, emotionally, and physically which in turn allows me to focus on changing into a better person. Learning to work together before a bad situation hits will help out a lot in the long run. Learning to have a positive attitude and not whine when I’m uncomfortable will be an encouragement and a blessing to the people in my group as well.
    The downside to having our church group as a preparedness group is there are a decent amount of people that aware it exists but don’t participate in preparing. This is one of the reasons we don’t keep all our supplies in one location and even though we tell people ways to prepare, if they haven’t really become apart of our group we don’t give details on what we have or where.
    The best we can give to people is knowledge right now, it’s their choice in what they do with it. That’s all I can think of at the moment, I hope you find a great group!

  29. I would look for specific skill sets: Weapons, Tactics, Medical, Agriculture, Food prep, Machines, Comms, Electrical, etc.

    In the past 6 months I have been ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED by how many people are open to prepping. Finding the skill sets is just the first part though, you also need to determine compatibility, and particularly compatibility under fire. You may be the greatest guy in the world now, but fire tests a man and shows him for what he truly is, and so before I reveal anything to anyone I try to test them a little. For instance I have one guy who I thought would be great, but who turned out to be a flake under stress. Shared beliefs are important too. I don’t believe in eliminating people who do not share all of my views, but a shared faith in God, in the principle of the Rule of Law, in the love of freedom, and the belief in Natural Law and Rights, is pretty essential.

    One last thing, I would be careful about formalizing anything. People come and go into each others lives and unless someone is your best friend or SERIOUSLY committed, letting people in on your prepps is extermely risky. Why not encourage others, and cultivate relationships, without formalizing a retreat group? When the SHTF I believe you will need lots of people to effectively run a retreat, and having a list of those you want to invite to help is great, but except for those people who are all in, why share info with others who may not end up needing to know?

  30. Rourke, we’ve been struggling with the exact same issue. We know we need a group, but we can’t seem to get one going or find one to join. After reading through this, I can’t believe the answer was so obviously in front of me the whole time. Since we feel led to prepare by God, we need to pray & trust he will handle it in his own way. How many times do I need to learn this lesson?

  31. This has been on my mind for several years. I only know one person who is a like-minded prepper but they moved out of my area. My church is led by a pastor who preaches that God is all we need. Well, I need God but I’m sure he gave me smarts and skills for a reason. I’m developing relationships with two neighbor families, we already help each other out around the house and lawns and produce from gardens. And this might be it. My friends at work don’t know what the word ‘prepper’ means and they will be the first to go down…even though I tried at first to help a few come around. I stick to Rule #1 = Trust no one. Thanks for your site. I lurk everyday! Good Luck to everyone.

  32. We are currently in the process of looking for a group. It’s not an easy process, as there are so many variables to consider. We attended Charlotteprepcon last Saturday and got together at the end with some of our neighbors in the same county. Where do you go once you’ve introduced yourself and learned a little about the other person? Many we spoke to were just beginning to prep. We have some friends who are in a group (who are seriously prepared) that we might consider joining (if asked), and then we have another friend who has close to 50 acres, but we don’t think they have any food put away and aren’t of the prepper mindset. The choice gets sticky because these friends are our daughter’s boyfriend’s family. If we join the other group, then there is communication between our daughter and the other family,(part of a larger extended family). It’s going to take some serious prayer to make this decision. Whoever you join up with needs to have food and other preps for their families and everyone must bring something to the group in the way of talent(gardening, security, medical knowledge, etc.)

  33. For long term surviability I think (IMHO) that some form of a group will provide the most opportunity. Many great ideas and information here! Now dont trash on me but many ideas and thought provoking considerations have come from many of the SHTF type books. The variety of Authors have created story lines on group suvival. Even the old TV series “Jericho” (yes, it has many foopaws in it) but over all it lays out the community/group issues and flaws/faults. The common questions through all this is “What do you bring to the situation”? Skills, talents, etc. How will leadrship be formulated. Ove all great question and replies!


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