Chapter 8: Finding Fellow Survivalists

We could really summarize this entire chapter with the following sentence: It is easier to turn a friend into a survivalist than it is to turn another survivalist into a friend.

Captain Dave’s advice is to tell no one you are preparing. Just keep quiet about the entire thing.  Don’t brag about it, don’t discuss it, and don’t show off your food stores.  To do so invites unwelcome attention and possibly ridicule now and unwelcome guests in an emergency.  The very same people who laughed at you will be the first one’s knocking on your door looking for a hand out when TSHTF.

If you have a bomb shelter, do not tell people or it will grow crowded at the first sign of a nuclear emergency.  Your shelter – comfortable and stocked for four – will be a magnet for friends and acquaintances demanding entry, some of whom may be willing to kill for the opportunity to replace you in there.  Remember, desperate people will do desperate things to protect themselves.

If you have a secret survival retreat, tell no one where it is except for those whom you would truly welcome and wish to spend the next few years of your life with.  If you have a cache or caches, keep their location(s) secret, or someone else may beat you to them.

Keep in mind that in addition to the danger of other people usurping your survival supplies, there is the threat of the government.  Some emergency management official will consider your stash hoarding and will want to confiscate it in an emergency.  (The executive orders are already written, just waiting to be implemented).  Or if it becomes common knowledge that you have 10,000 rounds of ammunition in your basement, some anti-gun politician or well-meaning fire marshal will decide that you are violating some code and either fine you, tax you, confiscate it, or make you spend money on special safety equipment that you don’t really need.

Here’s how you handle pesky questions from nosy people:  Lie in a way that points them in the wrong direction with a reasonable explanation.  For example:

  • “Hey Bob,” says your friendly gun store owner, “That’s the third case of ammo you bought this year.  Are you stocking up?”  You answer: “No, I’m training for a big competition, and I’ve been shooting 100 rounds or more a week. Say, do you think you can give me a volume discount?”  And make a mental note to start buying ammo elsewhere.
  • “Wow, that’s a lot of canned goods,” says the cashier.  “Yes,” you answer, “the church soup kitchen is very grateful when we can buy items on sale as it makes our limited budget go that much further.”

Think of this miss-direction as a kind of verbal camouflage.

Involving Others

So, in an environment where you cannot talk about your survival preparedness, where to you find others who are like-minded individuals?  How can you form a survival group?

Start close to home with family members and close friends, people you know you get along with and whom you can trust.  Be sure to use good judgment and do not automatically include someone just because they are a blood relative.  If your sister and her husband annoy the piss out of you, don’t bring them into the loop.  If your Mom is the world’s biggest gossip, don’t tell her a thing.  If your nephew is a stool pigeon who would rat you out at the drop of a hat, keep him in the dark.  But if your uncle (or cousin, or brother or co-worker) is a solid, stand-up guy who can keep his head when those about him are losing theirs, you may have a good candidate.

Start quietly, sounding him (or her) out.  Say things like, “Whew, I hope the president knows what he is doing with the Iranian situation.  I think we’re closer to a nuclear war now than we have been for 20 years.” And then later work in something like, “What would you do if there was a nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran?  Do you think we’d be in any danger from fallout?”

You can meet like minded people in church, in social clubs, at work and other locations.  But be careful.  Go slow and be subtle.  Learn about them before you bring them up to speed on your plans.  Keep in mind that you do not have to tell them anything before hand – you can always invite them to join you when the emergency hits instead.

Once you have identified a candidate to join in your survival planning, spend some time together with the families.  Get together for dinner and make sure their spouse and yours were not high school rivals who have hated each other ever since.  Make sure the kids get along, and make sure that your politics, religion and parenting views are compatible.  In a disaster, you may be living in close quarters – you don’t want to find out surprises at that point.

Once you are sure the two families are compatible, do weekend trips.  Go camping.  Rent a wilderness cabin.  Go whitewater rafting.  These are the types of outdoor adventures that will allow you to see how they operate under an abnormal situation.  Do their kids fall apart without video games?  Are they willing to chop firewood, haul water and clean dishes, or do they whine and complain the whole time?  Is the family ready to face an adventure, learn a new skill and adapt to a new situation?  For that matter, is yours?  Are they lazy?  Does the husband sit around the fire and have his kids do all the work?  Is one of them a closet alcoholic or have a problem with drugs?

What skills and experiences do they bring to the table?  Did they serve in the military?  Are they an EMT, nurse or doctor?  Can they repair cars or small engines?  Can they weld?  Do they know basic carpentry, plumbing or electrical?  Are they hunters?  Have they ever had a garden?  Do they raise live stock?  While redundancy is good, this is also a chance to add skills you do not have.

Doubling Up

As described in Chapter 5, the absence of electricity and gasoline will mean that survivalists have to rely on manpower to do the things they used to have machines do for them.  This is why farmers at the turn of the century had such big families – because they needed all the hands they could get to help on the farm.  A common survival tactic is to “double up.”  That means one family moves in with another so that they are twice as many available hands.  This makes things like planting the garden, harvesting the crops, cooking and cleaning, caring for the children, and standing guard much easier.  It also adds skills.  One wife may be an excellent baker, but not too good at sewing.  Maybe one husband is good with tools, but not with animals.  By doubling up, you can expand the available skills and have fewer gaps of knowledge.

Doubling up also creates added safety.  There are twice as many of you to fight off intruders or invaders.  One person can go hunting without leaving the house unprotected under-gunned.  Of course, this is only the case if you have enough firearms to arm the able bodied adults and older children.

The role of children should not be overlooked in a survival situation.  Even kids who once sat in front of computer keyboards or TV screens need to rise to the occasion and become fully contributing members of the household.  In this case, use the rule that kids who do not work do not eat. The era of spoiled children ends when the balloon goes up. Assuming they survive, you will be raising strong confident children instead of weak, victimized refugees.

In addition to doubling up, a single relative or friend might also join the group, as long as the dynamics are not knocked out of whack by having an uneven number of men and women.   Additional skill sets are always useful, such as a medical officer, scout, hunter, gardener, baker, or weapons specialist.

When the time comes to double up, prior arrangements must be made so that all parties are in agreement, everyone knows who will sleep where, and what each person’s responsibilities will be.  Refer to the discussion of creating a wilderness retreat for a review of some specific areas of responsibility because a large household will need to have roles clearly defined, including leader, quartermaster, scout, etc.  While there can be an element of democracy in such a situation, at the end of the day, someone needs to be in charge and everyone else has to agree without resentment.

Survival Groups

Over the years, people have formed survival groups with mixed success.  Those that are perhaps the most successful have on strong, charismatic leader that everyone else follows.  Those that lack this key ingredient fall victim to political infighting and bickering and lose direction.

This gives you two choices, find a strong leader who you respect and will gladly follow, or become that leader.  Neither is as easy as it sounds.

One form of successful group survival is one that evolves after the disaster rather than before: a loose alliance of families who live independently but after the disaster form a society and can socialize amongst themselves, trade amongst themselves, and agree to come to each others aid in the case of an attack.  The closest corollary is the village.  Villages grew up at crossroads and other strategic locations because they allowed a sharing of expertise.  One blacksmith and one miller could serve all the families in the area, relieving each family from having to shoe their own horses and grind their own grain.  One cobbler could make shoes for everyone, rather than everyone having to learn how to make shoes.  And one Sheriff could keep the peace and provide defense against hostile outsiders, using a posse of townsfolk for backup.

This type of situation is perhaps the ideal post-TEOTWAWKI society, a village structure that provides mutual support while honoring independence.  A group of people forced together by chance that choose to remain together for mutual aid, support and comfort, but who are free to come and go as they wish.

An alternative to the village is a feudal society.  If you have all the supplies, the guns and ammo, and the manpower, you can set yourself up as the feudal lord.  In return for governing the area, protecting its inhabitants and seeing to their wellbeing, they must pay you a tax, serve in your militia, etc.  Reign well, because the peasants of tomorrow will be neither uneducated nor ignorant and will have a strong taste of freedom.  It may be that the feudal lord reigns at the will of his populace in a mutually beneficial relationship rather than one of might makes right.

There are a number of paid survival groups, where you enroll by paying a fee which gives you the right to live in their bomb shelter.  Other than what he has read on the web, Captain Dave knows little about these organizations, but he generally dislikes the idea of allowing someone else to do all your preparing.   Paying a membership is not developing a survival mindset, becoming self reliant or building your skills.

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