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I work in the disaster preparedness and emergency management field so I frequently read survival blogs and forums. One of the common questions is "how do I find like-minded people to form a survival group?" or "Why is it so hard to find a group to join?", so I am going to discuss some of the issues I have discovered.
First, my rant!
Security! If you are soliciting, advertising and or using the web for any group efforts or activities, how secure is your group. "OpSec" People! I'm not saying that the web isn't a great place to research topics and gather information to assist with your knowledge and planning. What I'm saying is "I do not think it is an appropriate forum to find members". Harmonious Group Dynamics, in my opinion should be first and foremost. Think about it for a second. If Billy is well prepared, skilled and ready but you can't even stand his wife long enough for a weekend to Vegas, do you really want them to be part of your group? Know let's look in the mirror. How accurate is your perception of your own ability? Can you walk your talk? Or are you going to get your group into trouble? OK, enough about that.
On to the Story
In most cases Survival Groups dissolve due to lack of funds, seriousness of its members, infighting and lack of leadership. I think the successful survival groups are the ones we never hear about.
It is my belief, that groups should be secretive, as small as possible while allowing for a comprehensive complementary skill set within the group.
Finding people with complementary skills, beliefs and interests who can form a group and work together for the long haul isn't as easy as it sounds. I think that is why people turn to the internet. Finding the right survivalist friends could mean the difference between a long life or a quick demise so choose carefully.
Take a look at your geographic location, situation, family and friends. Would they be there for you and each other when the balloon goes up? What are their skills? What do they have to offer? Will they work harmoniously together? If Joe is a General Contractor, good gardener and great in the kitchen but wouldn't pick up a rifle, how can that effect the group?
If the answers to the above questions are negative, than you need to look elsewhere for support. But where do you look. And, perhaps more importantly, how do you do it without drawing attention to yourself or inviting danger into your retreat.
Consider looking into:
- Faith Based organizations with similar convictions to your own.
- Hunting clubs
- Gun clubs
- Garden clubs
- First Aid & CPR class attendees
- Those attending self-defense classes or seminars
- C.E.R.T. Teams
- Amateur HAM Radio clubs
I'm sure you can think of other possibilities, but you get the idea. In addition, if you are not attending or an active member of at least a few of these activities and organizations, how serious are you?
Starting your own related club, as a ruse to attract like-minded people for an initial "feeling-out" process isn't out of the question. Even if you don't find candidates you'll at least have gotten the ball rolling for your own personal preparedness. If this ruse is attractive to you, use the internet to promote the club, not your true intentions.
In my opinion people who are openly sharing survival plans with any and everybody should take a step back and evaluate security. People at first may seem to be likely candidates, but might turn out to be the opposite of what you're looking for once you get to know them. Group dynamics and harmony are very important and shouldn't be sacrificed for skills and equipment. Always keep in mind that in a worst case scenario you may be living, working and more importantly placing your life and the lives of your loved ones in this persons hand for a very long and lonely time.
It's best to start slow, keeping your options open. Act like you are just as unprepared as everyone else, but concerned about the future, recent disasters and current situations. Say you are interested in becoming better prepared for events but you aren't sure where to start. Like in a poker game, do not show your hand.
Maybe they'll start giving you advice. Listen closely. If the advice is sound you may have hit the pay-dirt. Informally talking about your fears and concerns may open up the conversation, but still be very careful with whom your share your information.
Trust should be earned not given over a period of time. You don't want to give your secrets to an individual who may abuse them. And no matter what, or how much you're offered, never do anything illegal if asked to gain trust.
If you choose to start a group from scratch you should evaluate is each person's assets and liabilities, everyone has both.
- Debt load
- Size of family
- Level of preparedness
- Ability to increase level of preparedness
- Skills they bring to the table
This is not everything that should be considered, but this short list should get you thinking. Remember if it is a family, every member should be evaluated. Say for example, she brings great skills and knowledge to the table, but her husband has a commanding personality and few skills. That might disqualify the entire family.
Not only do these considerations apply to prospective members, but also to you if you are joining a group. You want to improve your position, not hinder it. So train. Keep records of your skills and abilities and be honest about your capabilities. If you took 2 years of karate 10 years ago and haven't trained since, you shouldn't boast hand to hand expert.
Some people look at joining a group as being the, "Be all, End all" answer to the problem. That is rarely the case, as it takes time and effort to make a group of people better than the sum of the individual parts. I would caution folks to use great care and caution when either joining or adding to a group. I know it takes a great deal of effort to make things work, and not everyone is willing to put forth the necessary effort. I would suggest you take it very slow in the beginning with hopes that any problems would become evident early on. As my father always said "You get out of it, what you put into it" and everyone needs to contribute equally.
In summary, Get out from behind the PC.
- Find local groups that teach skills that can be applied to survival
- Increase your level of preparedness
- Decrease your level of debt
- Choose one skill a month that your are lacking and improve upon it
- Teach others the skills that you have acquired
While doing this, you will come across all types of people from all walks of life. Get to know them and size them up as a potential group member. And always keep in mind, The "Prepper" is sizing you up as well.