In Prepping circles there are a wide variety of voices, opinions and experience. This diversity of thought is one of the strengths of our little informal band of individuals with shared interests. This really comes to light when there is a healthy dialog on any given subject that is being discussed. It seems that almost anything I write or read about in prepper blogs has about 5% of the readers adamantly against the viewpoints of the article or the writer, another 5-10% in absolute agreement and the rest usually fall somewhere in the middle with a mixture of general agreement combined with questions and caveats to meet their own personal situation.
Knowing that is the case, I wanted to bring up another topic that to most of you will not be completely foreign, but I hope to share some perspectives at least from my point of view. One of the topics I have been reading about for years and thinking on seriously for my own family revolves around the concept of forming or joining a survival group. I have tried to look at the prospect of banding together with a larger group of people who share my beliefs, values and concerns and I think there are advantages and disadvantages of this both before and after any type of disaster. It is common sense that tells us that the more people you have on your side looking after you, the better off you will be.
As with all things we discuss it helps to set a frame of reference on what I mean when I say disaster and perhaps even more important to define what I mean by a survival group.
A Survival group in this context is simply a collection of people who have banded together to share their resources to help each other survive. The nature of events that the survival group is faced with would obviously determine what they must do to make survival possible. If there were no emergencies or threats to the group, then their lives could look completely normal. The location they are in would also be a factor as it relates to both their reaction to the situation but also their limitations, but I will get into that later.
The line we as preppers hear normally goes like this. You need to be part of a larger group in order to best survive any time of massive catastrophe. In this case, I am not necessarily talking about a tornado, flood or even an earthquake. Could a survival group help during an event like this? Of course, but in most natural disasters, we still have some semblance of order that is restored when the weather clears, the earth stops shaking and the waters recede. Help eventually arrives and life goes on in as close to normal as is possible after a natural disaster. Usually.
No, the survival group I am thinking about is primarily formed by a group of several friends or family members who start prepping together usually before SHTF. The group may have a remote retreat, make joint purchases together and may even go in together on purchasing property. In any event, the members of the survival group plan to stay together and survive some event down the road. This survival group’s location could be a safe haven prior to a hurricane or flood if you were able to bug out before the disaster hit, but let’s assume for the purposes of this article that when I say disaster I am talking about TEOTWAWKI, SHTF or some form of massive collapse.
I also want to point out that what I am calling a survival group is not to be confused with anything resembling militia. The survival groups I am discussing here in this article do not have a paramilitary purpose or intent. The survival group’s main mission is to keep everyone in the group alive and prosper by being self-sufficient after a collapse, not offensively act or attack for political or social motivations. That all might go out the window at some point in the future, but for now this article isn’t addressing that.
Should you join a survival group?
I can’t tell you if you should form or join a survival group because you have to make your own decision. I think that everyone lives in their own unique world of responsibilities, risks and motivations. The minute this post is live, life could change for all of us so rather than make a hard stance on this issue, I did want to write down some of the points that I considered as I was deliberating this for my own life.
I think there are positives and negatives to joining a survival group although some of you may disagree. I won’t be able to cover every base, but here are a few things I think are worthy of consideration.
What are some of the benefits of joining a survival group?
There are a lot of benefits to belonging to a group of like-minded people when you look at this from an ideal viewpoint. Ideally, you partner with responsible, mature, moral and talented individuals. These would be people you trust with your life and get along with very well with. With a group of friends, you have more talent on your team. You may choose to have some people specialize in certain skills. If everyone was a specialist you could cover several bases on knowledge initially and disseminate that knowledge out to the larger group over time.
For example, you might have someone who is an EMT in your survival group and prior to any collapse, they would be able to teach others basic lifesaving and wound treatment skills. The same could go for people with military or communications experience. I realize I said that a survival group wasn’t to be confused with Militia and that’s still true but I do believe if SHTF your group could easily expect to defend your location and having these skills will help.
Along with shared skills, your survival group could pool resources and usually this is most advantageous with purchases. A mortgage spread over 8 families sure would be easier to pay although there are potentially risks with any contract like that. If you wanted to bulk purchase 2000 lbs. of hard red winter wheat it would be easier to do with all families involved provided everyone could equally share the purchase. This of course assumes you are sharing everything equally.
Another important aspect of having a group of people is that there are more eyes watching out for you when it comes to security. You may have read some of our other security themed posts here on the Prepper Journal and the concept of protecting your home. This requires someone in most cases to be vigilantly watching if the situation deteriorates to the point where you could face attack in your home. By having a larger pool of people to stand watch, the load is shared, hours are reduced and the group members wouldn’t be as tired or stressed. Many hands make light work.
What are some drawbacks of joining a survival group?
Many of the advantages of the survival group fall into that ideal scenario I mentioned. Your group is comprised of talented, mature, moral and responsible people. People show their true colors in a disaster though and some of these people you got along so well with when everything was fine could be the same people you have to defend your life from if they crack. I don’t know of any group of people I have been involved with that never had any personality conflicts. If the conflicts are over someone hogging the remote now or breaking wind at the dinner table, they could be over food or ammo when the grid goes down. Do you risk joining a group where one or more of the members decide they don’t want to play by the rules anymore?
Going back to my Militia comment above, what if part of your group decides that they want to go attack the people in the town 5 miles down the road because your group has run out of supplies? What if they decide to let other people who weren’t part of your initial group inside the gates? What if your survival group decides that they need your supplies because theirs are gone or depleted? Worse yet, what if the survival group kicks you out and keeps your stuff, maybe your wife and kids because they don’t like you anymore?
The only way a survival group works is if you all share the load, keep your commitments and deal with conflicts in a fair and prearranged way. Each group should probably have its own form of constitution and by-laws. I think you should also have a public plan for what to do when someone breaks the laws of your survival group. It would help to work together for years before you are faced with a trial and that isn’t always possible. Trust is the number one thing you will depend on in this group and if that trust is broken everything else falls away.
What if you wait to join a survival group?
I am sure there are some of you who have been in a group for 20 years and I think that’s great, but most of us don’t have the same experience. I think back to the group from Patriots and how they met and formed and the rules they all lived by. That type of arrangement may work for you but when I consider this for myself, I see a lot of downsides to a survival group and positives only when people are playing nice.
So does that mean I am suggesting you don’t join a survival group? No, but I think this aspect of prepping would probably warrant the absolute most thought, discernment and time. Throwing in with another group of people could be the best thing and it could also be a nightmare. I think a survival group is perfectly doable and many if not most could work perfectly fine with those responsible adults I mentioned, but they could also go south with one bad apple. You have to work long and hard to avoid a situation like this that could put your family in jeopardy when you thought you had reached safety.
You could wait till a collapse happens and see what shakes out that way. I’ll be honest and say that is what I have thought about doing myself on more than one occasion. Let’s say disaster in the form of an economic collapse happens and power is wiped out, food isn’t being sold anymore except on odd days and you can only get a few items at a time. It would be during this period that you would see who shared your ideals and values. You would be able to see possibly examples where neighbors protected you or came to your defense. You might find out who was snitching on you for having gasoline stored.
It isn’t a strategy that makes sense, but it could out of necessity quickly show you at least on the surface whose on your side and who might be worthy of consideration for your own ad-hock survival group. Of course that might blow up in your face if you are locked up or killed when you could have been safely hundreds of miles away arguing with Bob over the remote.
In conclusion I think that the ideal solution again is my preference; a close-knit group with years of experience and a proven track record of trust and dependability. Not all of us can find those people, but it is worth trying.