There is always a lot of talk about having a group in a survival situation. As someone that does not, I have had a chance to observe things a little differently and one thing I have noticed is that people are far too trusting of who they let in and how much information they reveal from the very beginning. Information can be revealed and the person doing it doesn’t even realize the extent of their transparency.
Since there is undoubtedly value in having a group of people that you can come together with during hard times, I want to talk about how to screen people that you are considering letting into this part of your life and discuss a few pointers for not getting in an awkward or even dangerous situation,
A simple $25 per month service can take care of a lot of the things that you want to know about someone. You can do as many searches as you want. At the same time remember that these services only provide info that is documented. Plenty of perverts, con artists, and violent offenders don’t get caught and even if someone does get caught doing a crime, the conviction rate is pretty low for many crimes in the USA.
Consider the time period of the offense as well. There may be some petty things that people do when younger that don’t necessarily indicate that they have not become a good responsible and trustworthy adult. I am not going to kick someone to the curb because they stole some makeup or candy from a drug store in the 80s when they were a teen for example. It is up to you to decide what is acceptable or not.
How long have they lived in the area?
If someone has lived in a certain area for a decent length of time then others have had a chance to at least get some impression of them. If they have not caused any trouble or acted super weird than that is a plus. If they are the type of neighbor that likes to call the cops for the least little thing, wants to bully people into doing things their way, etc, then you may want to steer clear of them.
Test their knowledge compared to the impression they give.
I really cannot stand a blowhard. You know the type. They act like they know it all and then you find out they don’t even know how to start a fire properly or how to stand to shoot a gun. They often make others feel like they don’t know much even though they don’t either. If someone brags about skills or knowledge, ask some questions to test them a little. If someone is putting on a show right away, I don’t want them in my group because they care too much about being the biggest man/woman in the room. It also makes me wonder what they are hiding or what agenda they might have.
Observe how they are around animals, especially cats and dogs.
Do you know what exposed me to some real psychopaths in the prepping world? Writing about cats. That may sound weird but it is true.
Yeah, it is pretty sick some of the comments on Facebook. People that take pleasure and feel justified in the slaughter of innocent animals for no reason other than they don’t like that they hunt too is a big warning sign. A true psychopath thinks that you are just bullying them or an “animal lover” if you confront them on it and suggest they get some help. They really think they are in the right if they kill people’s pets.
There is a difference between not being over the top in love with animals and what I am talking about. I get it that some people don’t go out of their way to have pets.
At the same time if someone feels very negative about animals or shows signs of enjoying their discomfort, you should put distance between you and them ASAP. It is a sign of a deeper and more disturbing person than you want to deal with.
Don’t ignore consistent jokes or comments about plans to do bad things post SHTF.
People joke but there is a point when you have to start asking if they are joking if they don’t let up. People that fantasize about what they will do post SHTF are often dangerous. Like so many survival writers before me have said, “there are people around that are just waiting to do the things they have dreamed of doing without fear of the law”.
One example is people that are already planning on how they are going to sell counterfeit medical supplies and medications. I run into some good people writing about this stuff but I also see some of the folks that will show some of the worst sides of human nature the minute they get a chance or start to feel a little like they don’t have what they are entitled to.
There are also people that have the attitude that because they have a bug out bag, AR-15, and body armor that they will be able to take what they want when they can’t get it other ways. That doesn’t mean they won’t try to join a group beforehand to see what people have and get whatever initial advantage they can.
Spend some time and do some prepping related tasks with people
Some already established groups do campouts and have activities. If you are considering joining a group then it is advisable to do some activities so you can get a better idea how people are. If you have a group and are considering someone else, it can also be a good thing. A lot of these events are held at public camping grounds or other areas. Exercise caution if it is a first event and remote.
It may sound rude but I definitely realized that I did not want to have anything to do with some people after interacting with them at events and activities that were prepper related. I also realized that some people I had more in common with than I expected. Everyone I met in person that I had just talked to online, I definitely had a more in-depth perspective into what made them tick after meeting in person.
Don’t question someone too much but at the same time, be on alert for inconsistencies in statements and stories they tell.
If someone’s story changes a lot or they tell a different version to various people, then it is a sign to be cautious. Sometimes people just get a little mixed up but if someone varies a storyline too much or it seems to happen often, that is not good. It could be that the person just likes to lie, is a pathological liar, or they may like to manipulate others. None of these are good traits to have in someone that you may be looking at depending on at times to make good decisions for you and the group, not just themselves.
How do they do around children and teens?
During SHTF or a long emergency, there is a good chance that a survival group is going to have some kids or teens in it. Maybe that is not the case for you but I think it is safe to say that younger folks are going to be there or they may find their way to you. There are plenty of people reading this that would have a hard time turning down a child in need of short term or long term care.
I don’t have kids now but hope to one day. Even if that never happens, I still don’t want people in my group that actively dislike kids or are incapable of getting along or having some level of patience with them.
Be careful if someone seems to have too much money to throw around and there is no obvious answer to where it comes from.
There are some people that legitimately are wealthy, retired, etc through various means. There are others that are either lying, trying to use monetary promises for manipulative purposes, or that are being funded by people that you don’t want to mess with. There is no free lunch. Money comes with strings attached even if it is not very obvious at first.
Positive Things to Look For In A Group Member
Rule #1 Everyone has value. There is always something that a person can offer a group in a survival situation if they want to.
Please take a moment when you have the time to read or pass on to others my article “Appreciating the Skills Of Your Group & How Everyone Has Something To Offer”. This post can also help those that feel that they cannot do much to realize their own value.
Good at looking at all sides of an issue without exploding.
One of the big things I have a hard time dealing with in modern society is the inability of many to look at all sides of an issue without exploding into an emotional mess. If you cannot deal with differences in an objective and logical manner then you are not going to do well in a group.
Someone that doesn’t play the blame game.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the blame game is encouraged. If someone blames others for their problems or mistakes regularly then that is going to cause trouble in a group during a short or long emergency.
If you have a chip on your shoulder towards either gender that is not going to serve you well during SHTF. Men are not responsible for all of women’s problems and women are not responsible for all of men’s. All too often men and women are pitted against each other because it is easier to control and hold back a society that is divided.
Either already has strong survival and preparedness skills or is very motivated to learn
A survival group can do well by having a mixture of people at varying experience levels and those that know how to do different things. Everyone can help each other learn a variety of skills.
Someone that spends time preparing for the most likely emergencies first and the less likely ones later.
People get really worked up about EMPs, nuclear disasters, etc. It is better to start out considering the most likely things to happen in your area because it will, in turn, make you better prepared for the more unlikely ones that people fret about.
For example, if you live in an area that floods regularly, learn how to prepare for that. If hurricanes are prevalent, then hurricane preparedness skills are a good starting point. If you try to take on preparing for all disasters at once it can result in stretching your mind and finances too thin too fast.
Someone that can take constructive criticism and give it as well
As a writer, I learned the value of constructive criticism a long time ago. What I always used to despise was when I got feedback that criticized but did not tell me the why so I could learn and improve. Don’t just tell me to change something and give no guidelines.
Willing to do many things and doesn’t refuse to do their part for selfish reasons.
When I have been on work crews I used to get really annoyed when people would act like they only would do certain tasks. Of course, if someone physically cannot or has a good excuse then that is different. I am talking about the people that will just think they are too good to do some things or that will make no effort to get past some discomforts and fears. I can be very patient if I know someone is trying but if they are just trying to get someone else to do it for them then I don’t have as much sympathy.
Genuinely caring and compassionate and capable of empathy when interacting with people of all ages.
There is a lot of fake kindness out there. I want the genuine kind if someone is going to be in my group. Someone that is capable of feeling for others means they are capable of considering what is best for the group and not just considering their own feelings and desires.
Just because someone offers a lot of kindness on social media doesn’t mean they will be that great in person. I have learned that social media is a start but that you might meet someone in person and realize they are actually just someone that says whatever they need to in order to give the impression they want others to see.
People that don’t let their feelings and emotions get in the way of making rational decisions during dire circumstances.
There are times when a person must shove their emotions to the back of their mind so they can maintain strength and some level of rational thinking for the benefit of themselves and their group. Someone that panics really easily would do well to work on not panicking so fast. At the same time, those that already have these abilities can really help out those that do not yet have them. People that can calm others down and direct are a blessing in a real SHTF situation.
You do not want someone that always has to play the role of hero or be the person in charge. Being brave can be good but foolish acts of bravado to feed ego can get everyone killed.
While physical fitness and ability is not everything, it would be a lie to say that it doesn’t matter. Some members of a group should be able to do physical labor. I wouldn’t choose to be in a group where I thought the majority of people were not capable of moderate physical activity and labor.
Workload needs to be split up based on ability and skills. At the same time groups are not likely to do as well if just a few are doing all the really physically demanding tasks. The human body can only do so much in a given time period. There have been times on the farm that Matt or I was unable to do some things so the other person had to do a lot more of the other’s work. Some things simply could not be done.
I am not trying to belittle those that have physical issues beyond their control, but I am trying to point out that one must consider the workload balance when it comes to groups. There will be times when one person or more has to take on more work if someone is sick, hurt, etc.
If only 4 people out of 10 can do some of the more physical things, then if 2 are unable to do that then suddenly you have 2 people doing the heavy lifting and long-distance scouting for themselves and 8 other people.
Consider if a group is even right for you and your family.
While there is value in a group, I do not think that it is fair for people to so often say that if you don’t have one that you and your family have no chance of survival during an SHTF situation. Choosing the wrong people to associate with can be far worse than making an attempt to survive in your own family unit.
Groups are not for everyone and you shouldn’t feel bad if you decide that they are not your cup of tea. If you have friends that are in them and pressure you to join you just need to politely tell them that you are not interested or don’t have the time to dedicate to a group effort.
What if some family members of a group member or potential group member are reluctant to start being more prepared?
One reason some people are reluctant to start prepping or join prepper groups is the extremism they perceive. Remember that when a group accepts a person, they are accepting their family as well. If only one person in a family is on board and something happens, it is naive to think they are going to leave their family and not bring them along. This is why survival and prepper groups should encourage learning and skills to all ages of people in the family units of their members. For more information on getting a reluctant family member to prep, please follow this link to my article “How To Get A Reluctant Significant Other To Prep”.
Always remember that everyone has something to offer if they want to. Be compassionate but realistic when picking and choosing members and balancing out the group so that there is a good variety of skills, knowledge, and abilities.