Building a Survival Group: What Every Prepper Needs to Know


If you are planning for a long-term emergency or a full-blown TEOTWAWKI scenario, you need to develop a survival group. You want it to have people that you trust but who also possess diverse skills.

Having a well-rounded collection of skills represented in your group will give you a better chance of surviving and make the whole ordeal much less difficult.

Here is why having a survival group is a good idea, how to find group members, and the types of people you want to include. I’ll also share some ideas on things to do with your group once it is set up.

Do Preppers Need a Survival Group?

Prepper Survival Group

Being part of a survival group is a much better solution than trying to make it on your own. This includes short-term emergencies and more long-term situations. A group can watch one another’s backs, with individuals providing their own unique skills and knowledge. This will reduce any ability gaps, making the group more well-rounded and prepared for a variety of situations.

From a tactical standpoint, groups provide strength in numbers, while someone on their own will have to rely on mobility and stealth to keep themselves safe. Humans are social creatures, and as such tend to have a suspicious view of loners. Groups of survivors, whether they are good are bad, will likely view lone wolves as threats or targets. While a group could attract threats as well, at least you wouldn’t be on your own when they arrive.

If a lone wolf makes a mistake or becomes ill, no one will have their back. They will likely die a sad and lonely death. To avoid this, embrace the idea that the best opportunities come from other people. No person can do it all, and developing a survival group will be a force-multiplier to keep you and your loved ones safe and provided for.

Where to Find Survival Group Members

When building up a survival group, I recommend starting with people you already know and have a good relationship with. The foundation of your group should be your immediate and extended family.

Take an inventory of the skills that they possess and how those skills could be used in a survival situation. My family has people with incredibly diverse skills, including carpentry, mechanical skills, gardening, and many others. However, there are gaps in the skills that we possess as a whole.

To fill skill gaps, take a look at close personal friends. Ideally, this person would have one or more valuable skills and already know several members of your family and get along with them.

After this, consider neighbors and members of your church or other community organizations. Be sure to get to know these people before you bring up the topic of prepping. 

What to Look for In Survival Group Members

Trustworthiness

Survival group members need to be dependable and have a solid moral character. They should be the type of person who will act with integrity and put the needs of the group above their own. Introducing a selfish person to your survival group could be disastrous. You will have to trust this person with the security of your preps and the safety of you and your family.

Moral and Religious Values

Any person in your survival group should share your core moral and religious values. Although no two people completely agree on all of the millions of moral and religious debates, the members of your group should agree on the big stuff. This will prevent unnecessary strife during an already stressful situation.

Strong Work Ethic

Any person that you consider for your survival group must have a strong work ethic. Adding a lazy person to your group will only be a waste of resources. They may also be a safety liability.

Skills Your Survival Group Needs

The people in your survival group should possess the skills listed below. Some people may possess more than one of these skills, but you should try to have as many of them covered as possible. 

Carpenter

A carpenter can build new structures and make repairs to existing ones. A person with this skill will have access to and be able to use tools of all sorts. These include modern power tools, basic hand tools, and more primitive tools such as hand drills and hand saws. Someone with logging experience would be even more valuable due to their ability to harvest and process wood from the environment.

People that would do well in this role include anyone involved in construction. Cabinet makers and handymen would be useful as well.

Blacksmith

Perhaps the ultimate craftsman would be a blacksmith. A blacksmith will be able to create and repair metal tools, including knives and gardening implements. This person should know how to heat metal and how to use an anvil and hand tools to work it into the proper shape.

The best place to find a blacksmith or learn how to become one is local clubs. Use internet research to find a club near you. If you don’t find anything online, you may be able to meet blacksmiths at large flea markets or swap meets. These are common places for them to do demonstrations and sell their items.

Mechanic

Your group’s mechanic will be responsible for maintaining equipment such as vehicles, tractors, generators, and water pumps. In a prolonged emergency situation, a diesel mechanic would be the most useful type of mechanic to have around. This is because most of the equipment that could still be used in a long-term emergency would run on diesel fuels. With the right knowledge and equipment, you can make diesel fuel out of natural sources, including cooking oil. Unfortunately, unleaded fuel will be much harder to come by and produce during a long-term situation. 

Electrician

Even in the worst-case emergencies, it is unlikely that humanity will completely revert back to existence with zero electricity. Someone with a thorough knowledge of electrical technology would be a highly beneficial addition to your survival group. They could scavenge electrical equipment and put it to good use. They would be able to develop build solar, wind, or other types of power generation systems. Someone with electrical experience may also be able to repair damaged equipment as well.

Master Gardener

Every survival group should have at least one person who is an experienced gardener. They should understand what plants will grow well in your area. This person should also understand when to plant certain crops, how to take care of them, and the correct time to harvest. Look for someone who gardens year-round, not just during the spring and summer.

Stockman (Someone who raises animals for food)

Every survival group needs someone who knows how to raise animals for food. This person isn’t just a butcher. They should be able to care for animals from the time they are born until they are killed. They should have experience dealing with diseases that affect livestock and know how to protect both large and small animals from wild animals.

Herbalist

While a gardener knows how to grow plants, an herbalist will know how to use them for medicinal purposes. Infections and diseases will kill far more people than combat. Because of this, your group will need someone who can identify medicinal plants and prepare them in whichever form would be most beneficial for treatment.

Hunter

During a prolonged emergency or TEOTWAWKI situation, the days of sitting in a comfy box blind and shooting a deer while you sip coffee will be over. Every survival group will need people who can track, hunt, and kill various game animals. They should understand the behavior patterns of native species and the best way to harvest them, whether that is using weapons or setting traps.

The hunters should also know what to do with an animal after it is harvested. They should know how to process the animal’s meat and how to preserve it. Another good skill for a hunter to have is to be able to process animal hides into leather. Just like many of our Native American ancestors, a good hunter should know how to use as much of the animal as possible.

Soldier

Although most preppers can shoot a gun, a soldier is much more than that. A soldier will understand tactics and how to use weapons and people in a fight. This person should also be able to teach their skills to others in the group and lead them if necessary.

The soldier will also be responsible for the survival group’s security. They should develop physical defenses as well as strategies to defend the group against intruders. To implement these strategies, they will need to oversee training drills so that all members of the group understand where they need to go and what they need to do if the group comes under attack.

Gunsmith

During a prolonged emergency situation, firearms will be vital tools for your group. They will help you harvest food and defend against intruders. Because of this, every group needs to have someone with gunsmithing experience.

Most problems with firearms involve them being dirty or breaking springs. Most other problems are caused by broken small parts, such as extractors. Your group’s gunsmith should be capable of basic maintenance on firearms and be able to make or scavenge replacement parts, especially springs.

Doctor

While not every group will have a real-life MD, every group should have someone with professional medical experience. This could be someone such as a paramedic, nurse, or nurse practitioner. The holy grail of survival group doctors would be a general surgeon. While they are not specialists, like a cardiologist, they have a good understanding of the body as a whole. A general surgeon should be able to provide care for minor ailments and traumatic injuries.

Bush Crafter

This person is your outdoor survival expert. They will know how to make shelters out of natural resources, how to start a fire, which plants people can eat, and many other things. This person should be able to teach their skills to the other members of the group.

Negotiator

This person will be responsible for making deals for food and other supplies with other groups. A good person to fit this role would be someone with sales experience or who has worked in an administrative role, such as a school principal.

Minister

During a crisis, people are more likely to remain civilized if they have a strong moral center. Taking consideration of one’s soul will usually have a positive impact on behavior. Because of this, ministers are essential members of a survival group. They should have a deep theological understanding of their religion and be able to act as a counselor to those in the group.

Teacher

Just because society falls apart, that doesn’t mean that people won’t still have kids. These children will need an education, but it will need to be different than the one we give kids today. Of course, children will still need to learn basic literacy and mathematical skills. Communication will always be important, and so will basic arithmetic and geometry. Teachers can still teach kids knowledge such as this, however, children will also need to learn more practical skills about how to survive in the world in its new form.

Because of this, members of your group with different skills should be willing and able to act as mentors to guide new apprentices. For example, you don’t want your group to have your only blacksmith die without anyone to take their place. To prevent this, they need to train the next generation so that their skills aren’t forgotten.

Angler

If you live near any water source, having an experienced fisherman in your survival group would be highly beneficial. This person should be able to use more than just a rod and reel. They should know how to set up trotlines and other passive means of fishing, such as basket traps. They should know how to build them out of natural materials if necessary and where to set them up.

What to Do Once You Have Your Survival Group

Simply establishing your survival group is only the beginning. After you set up your group, spend time with them. This is especially true if there are any newcomers. You want them to have an emotional attachment to the group and for the group to have one to them. This will greatly increase the chances of your group functioning as it should.

Activities such as campouts and trips to the shooting range are good ways to spend time with your group and share skills between group members. Let your expert members take the lead on any subject they have the most knowledge in. A medical person could teach first aid, while a bush crafter could teach basic outdoor survival skills.

In addition, members of your survival group should focus on gathering equipment needed to execute their skill set. For example, the group gunsmith should make sure they have the tools and supplies they need to fix firearms, such as wire to make springs. Your medical person should work on stocking gauze, antiseptics, and other medical supplies.

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