How to meet other preppers in the real world and who you can trust
As the saying goes, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” While the saying is almost 400 years old, it is still as applicable today as it was then.
And even though, in it’s original context, it referred to the fact that the death of another man…even perhaps a stranger…impacts everyone around them, it is also very applicable in a survival and preparedness context.
“Preppers,” or those who take the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared” to heart on a daily basis, are an odd bunch. Of course, I can say that without hesitation or concern about offending anyone because of the fact that I’m obviously a prepper myself
In short, we try to do everything possible to make ourselves more self-reliant and less dependent on systems and people who might fail in a disaster situation, but in the process of trying to stock up and learn how to do everything, we realize that we just can’t do everything by ourselves.
There’s a natural tendency to want to find other like minded people. Actually, “tendency” is the wrong word. “need”, “hunger”, or “yearning” are more appropriate descriptions of the primal urge to find a group of people to band together with.
It’s a humbling feeling when you’ve started to prepare and realize that you just don’t have the time to learn all of the skills or the money to buy all of the gear necessary to be able to survive on your own.
Even if you do happen to have all of the skills, money, and time necessary to be a one man army, when you’re alone, you’re limited by how much you can carry, you’re vulnerable when you’re sleeping, and you can’t heal yourself up if you’re critically injured or critically ill. And, even if you don’t sleep and never get injured, what about when a group of hostile people crosses your path?
If your family doesn’t share your passion for taking prudent steps towards being prepared for potential less-than-ideal time, it can make the process of preparing even more lonely and make the need to find other like-minded people feel even more intense.
These are all common feelings. It’s why, historically, people lived in tribes. It’s why communities were formed in the first place. Ironically, it’s these same communities that were originally formed for stability in the form of efficient defense, commerce, and specialization that have grown to the point where they’ve made society as fragile as it is today.
Even with this great need to team up, there’s a constant concern about making yourself a target by sharing too much information with a stranger, a friend who doesn’t want to prepare, or someone who is excited about preparing today but who cools off in the future.
Even if you do find people who are like minded, keep in mind that almost all marriages are based on “love” and the participants think that they’re meant to last, but half still end in divorce. That’s with 1 relationship.
If you’ve got a group of 4 couples preparing together, you’ve got 8+7+6+5+4+3+2+1=36 relationships and the chances of conflict and “breakup” go through the roof. Add in kids, and it gets even more interesting.
I cover several steps to take for forming a “mutual aid” group in the SurviveInPlace.com course, but I want to touch on a few here today:
First, never feel like you need to tell the whole truth when you’re talking with people about your skills and level of preparedness. Most people prefer dealing with people who under-promise and over-deliver anyhow.
Don’t look at holding back information as lying, but rather as setting expectations that you can easily meet at a future time. If you have a year or two of food stored up, there’s nothing wrong with only saying that you have 40 days or 6 months of supplies.
As you’re looking for people and developing your group, be nice. If you think people like you because you’re blunt and always honest and say what you think…you’re probably wrong. Sometimes, like when your wife asks if she looks good in a particularly unflattering dress, you might be better off lying.
Other times, relationships can be preserved or improved by practicing discretion rather than airing every possible problem and fault that you can find. The benefit of voicing perceived shortcomings has to be weighed against harming or ending the relationship. Some issues are worth pushing…most aren’t. The process of choosing battles wisely is a skill—one that I’ve had to develop over the years and that I’m still working on.
Decide what the biggest personality traits are that you’re looking for. Religion? Politics? Positive thinking? Patience? Work ethic? People skills? Leader? Planner? Thinker? Empathizer? These will be different for everyone.
Preppers come from all ends of all spectrums and you need to do some self evaluation to figure out what types of people you can and can’t tolerate. Keep in mind that some of your traits may not be tolerable to others.
You may want to figure out a “cover” for your group so that it’s easier to bring new people in for evaluation. It could be a church small group, a children’s playgroup where the parents talk while the kids play, a bridge (cards) group, a book club, a coffee group, running/biking group, investing club, or anything else that you can think of that is fun, low key, and will allow you to get to know people in a group setting.
Don’t make the mistake of equating how prepared someone is today with how good of a teammate they may be. Good people are at all stages of preparedness. If you’ve been a prepper for decades, you can help shortcut the process for others.
More important than how prepared someone is today in relation to you is whether they’re making specific, measurable, beneficial progress on a daily and weekly basis. If you get together once a month and all the other person has done in the last month is “research stuff,” then they’re probably not a good fit. If, on the other hand, they’ve taken action in the form of physical fitness, learning/practicing skills, and/or actually buying items, then it’s a good indication that they’re not simply all talk.
PLEASE avoid using your first and last name, as well as divulging too much personally identifiable information when online There are wolves in sheep’s clothing in every venue…that doesn’t mean that you need to be paranoid, but it does mean that you should be intelligent about what you say.
In short, don’t say that you have anything to anyone who you don’t want showing up at your door asking for it. In other words, if you’ve got a year of food, expect that anyone who you tell about it may show up at your door asking for some of it at some point in the future.
You’ll find that some people aren’t as concerned about OPSEC and hold regular meet-ups. If you decide to go to one of these, I’d be particularly vigilant about keeping your cards close to your chest.
The editor of Resounding Earth, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.