We talk about it all the time and it has been the subject of countless debates both on the Prepper Journal and other sites out there. The scenario goes something like this: TEOTWAWKI has happened. The causes could be any one of hundreds, but the reality you are living in has gotten so bad that all your planning and preparing are being put into action. This is no longer a hypothetical exercise, it is a survival situation.
You, your family and closest friends are locked and loaded in your bunker/suburban home with all of your prepping supplies, plenty of potable water, medicines, food to last 12 months and what you hope is enough firepower to keep any two-legged predators at bay. At least long enough so that they can die on someone else’s doorstep.
But inevitably, your group will need to grow. It could be that you need additional people to help with the daily tasks of maintaining a large enough garden, one that produces enough food for you and your family to eat on as well as extra to store away for the winter. You might need someone with skills at repairing machinery, or tending to your livestock that you started to raise right before it all went south. You might need people who can expand your solar panel powered electric system and make sense of all those volts, amps and watts you never had time to learn. You could need extra people for defense because you and your friends simply can’t guard the perimeter that you have identified 24 hours a day, get dozens of gallons of water from the creek and work a full day on food production to help keep things running.
Your survival group must grow to survive
I know what some of you are thinking. You should have all of these skills taken care of and identified well in advance of this hypothetical TEOTWAWKI I am talking about and in a perfect world I would agree. You would also be located 50 miles from the nearest person hidden by some magical Disney waterfall that nobody ever finds. However, reality is a different kind of movie. Even if I stopped working my day job and the extra jobs (including this blog) and devoted myself completely to learning everything I could, I would still only be one person. Well, you should be finding like-minded people now who could join your survival group and start training you say.
Yes, I know. As much as I’d like, I haven’t found that to be the case in my life and I would bet you a frosty beer that most of you are in the same boat. Yes, we each may have made tremendous strides at becoming prepared, but you simply can’t do it all by yourself.
Assuming you are not like me (or the rest of us) and you already have a group of 12 tactically trained people, a pristine bug out location and specialists in every skill like the characters in Patriots, even you and your extremely squared away group will eventually need to add new people to the team. People get hurt and die. People grow old and unless you plan on walking the woods your entire life, sticking to the shadows and remaining Ninja invisible you need to consider what questions you might be forced to ask people before you accept them into your survival group.
Making the Cut
The shoe might be on the other foot as well and you might find yourself looking to join another group because for one reason or another you are alone. It can happen. Just because we all have plans for the remote retreat, doesn’t mean they will come to pass. Someone might roll into your retreat, past your neat little rows of Kale and kill everyone in there except for you. You could go out in a hail of bullets, but what if that isn’t your style? Assuming that you weren’t the unfortunate victim of a larger survival/criminal group that wanted what you had and possessed the skills or luck to take it from you, what if you encountered people who wanted to be a part of your group? What are some questions you can ask yourself to decide if someone is worthy of coming into your group?
This list below is just examples, but cover a lot of different scenarios I think. Let’s say someone approaches your retreat location/home on the cul-de-sac. They are walking and your security team is alerted well in advance to their approach. After initial conversations held from behind the business end of superior firepower, you believe them to not be a threat and invite them over to talk. This traveler says they have been walking for weeks and want to know if they can join your group.
1. Do you trust them? – To me this is the first test, but I wouldn’t think this is a check-box you can knock off right at first. I believe there are several levels of trust. I may trust a stranger to talk to my children, maybe play a game with them at the playground, but I wouldn’t turn my back on them for a second. Do you get any vibes off this person that doesn’t feel right? Do they get worse or better as you talk to them?
2. Do they bring skills/resources your group needs? – I brought up the subject of being a hired gun in an earlier post and I can see that as a potential skill in a true collapse assuming you needed bodies and this person was able and willing to do that and more. What if they are a nurse and have medical training? What if this person is a mechanic and they know how to fix that tractor your neighbor left behind before they high tailed it out-of-town? What if they are a carpenter and can build onto your house and make the existing structure safer? There are many skills that I think could be useful and this person might enable your group to be much better off. Additionally, they could bring gear or supplies or some other resource your group needs.
3. Do you have the resources to support them? – Another mouth to feed. Yes, this is what we are routinely concerned with. You have stored up enough food supplies for you and your family, but nobody else. Any extra mouths to feed would take food away from your children. This is certainly true, but it is also short-sighted potentially. What if this extra person could help you produce 100% more food? Would that be worth the short-term reduction in your overall food storage supplies? What if they were a skilled trapper and had dozens of small game snares in their pack and could teach you how to make your own? I mean that actually caught animals….
4. What situation brought them to your door? – You can only ask them what put them on the road, but they might have intelligence that could help you and your group out. They may have been from places you no longer know about, or can share what is happening there. Did they get kicked out of another group? That could also be very telling.
5. How desperate/charitable are you? – This could change greatly with the day on which the stranger appears. Charity can be established and given without necessarily bringing a stranger into your house. If you want to provide charity to this person you still can and should. Maybe you don’t trust them enough to let them into your group, but you do want to help them out. Times like this call for a plan for dispensing charity that doesn’t put you or anyone else in your group at risk. The flip-side of this coin may be that you do want to let them in. It could be that you desperately need medical skills he has because your wife is ill or dying. All of this needs to be weighed out.
6. How well do you know this person? – In this case it is a stranger, but people you know could walk down your street just as easily. Actually, I think it will be the people we know who come knocking before complete strangers do. Someone who knows you might assume that you will at least talk to them before running them off with the shotgun. A stranger might get a different kind of greeting. Assuming this is an acquaintance, how well do you know their character?
7. Do others in your group know the person? – Same as above. You might find yourself in a situation where someone in your group knows the person who is begging to come in. This could be friends of your children or spouse. It could be other group member’s parents. At some level, knowing the person you are considering for inclusion is better than a complete stranger, but that doesn’t guarantee they will be any better for your group.
8. What do others in your group think? – On many things I have an almost immediate gut-level reaction. I usually know one way or another which way I will decide but I do realize that most of the situations I find myself in daily involve trivial matters. It really doesn’t hurt too bad if I make a mistake now. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, one mistake could get myself and others killed. On large matters like adding a new person to your group, it would make sense to get a vote from every one of the adult members. Dissent should be discussed and even complete agreement should be carefully considered.
9. What does your gut say? – Going back to the gut, my favorite measuring device. Trust your gut, provided it has served you well in the past. If you have a history of making bad decisions, perhaps you should trust someone else’s gut. Usually mine is pretty reliable. Hopefully yours will be too.
So that’s my argument for the potential of considering outsiders for inclusion into your group at some point down the line. I am sure there are those who disagree. Let me know what you think. Would you ever allow anyone into your group?
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