Letter Re: Retreat Group Recruiting and Organization

Mr. Rawles,
One subject that seems vastly under-represented in the bulk of survivalist literature is that of organizing and recruiting.
It’s fairly obvious that in a real WTSHTF scenario, a lone wolf, or small family would be in a precarious position regardless of how well armed and well prepared they may be. A group of three or four would be hard pressed to maintain any real degree of security while going about the [gardening and other self-sufficiency] work required for basic survival.

In my experience, it’s hard enough finding someone that’s even “like minded”, let alone skilled or intelligent. There’s also a tremendous element of trust involved in attempting to organize. Approaching someone to join your survival group is a fairly risky proposition, because you’ve basically advertised the fact that you’re preparing for a worst case scenario to that person, and whomever they decide to tell. There’s a further degree of trust necessary for making mutual purchases, storing equipment at a centralized location. etc. etc. I’m sure you can think of the hundred different concerns that come into play when it comes to increasing your membership.

In your excellent novel “Patriots”, the organization element of the story sort of “fell into place” with a cadre of intelligent, like-minded individuals, possessing complementary skills assembling [partly] by chance meetings. It was also convenient that none of the group members had small children, elderly dependents or chronic health conditions. Another complication which wasn’t addressed was that of group members with other “attachments”. None of the characters in the book came to the retreat with an uninvited guest, like a sibling who had experienced a miraculous change of heart upon realizing that their “survivalist nut” brother was right all along.

This is the single most frustrating element of my preparedness efforts. I know that it’s going to take more than a tiny group of people to survive a prolonged catastrophe, but all of the potential complications involved in finding new members makes it very difficult to do any recruiting. I can acquire skills and assemble materials to the best of my abilities, but in the end, there won’t be any real substitute for a few more rifle-wielding warm bodies.

Any insights, strategies or suggestions you might have for filling the void would be much appreciated. Sincerely, – LW

JWR Replies: The situation I described in my novel actually mirrored my personal circumstances at the time that I wrote the first draft, in early 1990. I had just been married three years, and my wife and I had not yet had any children. Although I consolidated things a bit to avoid having “a cast of thousands”, the majority of the characters in the novel were based on real-life friends, and “The Group” paralleled a group that I had associated with since college.

When recruiting for any retreat group, proceed with prayer.

To supplement your own extended family, try to find folks with the same religious background and representing a good mix of skills. My novel “Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse” describes some of the specific skills that would be ideal for a group retreat–like a doctor, a mechanic, a machinist/welder, a farmer, a combat veteran, and so on. If you are already living at your intended retreat, it is probably best to recruit locally. If not, then you should probably recruit regionally looking for preparedness-minded people that have the same long-term relocation destination, or at least the willingness to be flexible about where they relocate.

As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, I recommend three web sites (two paid, and one free) for making connections–whether you are looking to join or form a retreat group, or even for someone looking looking for a “prepper” spouse. They are:

Conservative Match (a paid matchmaking service–based on shared conservative political/social views)

Liberty Mates (a paid matchmaking service–based on shared libertarian views)

The Survivalist Groups [“Meet-up”] web page–(a free service courtesy of the folks at SurvivalistBooks.com. If you use this service, then please give SurvivalistBooks.com some business!)

Needless to say, use discretion when using these services. As a prepared individual, you have more to lose than most folks. For your safety and security, it is better to go through a long series of correspondence and to do some background and reference checking before revealing your locale and details, or meeting face to face.