Post-TEOTWAWKI: Groups and Retreats, Pt. 3, by E.M.

(Continued from Part 2. This part concludes the series.)

A friend of mine in Southern California lived for a few years in a cabin at a location served only by a power company’s dirt access road. The original access road crossed a property that ultimately changed hands and the new owner denied access.

As an alternative, the landowners who lived near my friend’s place were asked to contribute money for additional maintenance efforts concerning the Southern California Edison access road which they began to use. The road was usable, but it was rough. Some landowners refused to contribute. I suppose that they decided that if S.C. Edison didn’t maintain the road well enough, they would simply let their vehicle’s shocks take the pounding while traveling to and from the highway on three miles of dirt road. It may also have been the case that they believed that the other landowners would have grading performed anyway, so they would sit back, wait for others to act, and use the improved road anyway.

Imagine a retreat where shareholders plead hardship after a couple of years, citing unemployment, tuition expenses, unexpected medical bills, or unexpected repairs at home. How does the group successfully insist that they sell their membership, and exactly to whom do they sell it, who will benefit the group?

After that, what happens when a prepper couple gets divorced? One spouse may have provided useful skills, e.g., gardening, welding, military training, etc. The other spouse may have been simply a burden with little to offer. Which one of them keeps the share of retreat ownership in the property settlement, and exactly how is the group benefitted or harmed by the result?

Finding anyone to buy a share of the retreat the first time would have been difficult. How often does lightning strike twice? The first right of refusal is just that, the first right. After that, the new purchaser who takes possession may have no more interest in preparedness issues than you or I do in Nigerian soccer league championship results.

Because the group is likely to be composed of members with significantly different ages, some will leave the group due to mortality. With the passage of time the burden will become more onerous on the younger members who remain. Posting a notice on CraigsList for a replacement does not seem like a great way to mitigate the loss.

The physical size of the retreat, the amenities available at the retreat, the food-producing capacity, and the local threat environment would be important factors in assessing the number of members needed in the group. A serious emphasis on security would be necessary, but there would also need to be a substantial part of the group’s man-hours dedicated to food production, food preparation, household chores, and childcare, as well as simple sleep during each 24-hour period.

Would a group composed of perhaps 30 people, mostly able-bodied adults, be sufficient? You decide.


The best solution that I can imagine is for one person or one couple, with the available financial means to do so, to buy a retreat and for them to then extend an invitation to people who can contribute to the retreat’s success if “the balloon goes up.” And, again, the optimal solution would also involve the offers being made to relatives or, at least, good friends. Human nature being what it is, it is unlikely that the owners would want to invite a large number of total strangers to join. Admittedly, finding the right person/couple with such financial resources would not be easy.

Potential recruits who received invitations could visit the property after proper efforts were undertaken to ensure that they didn’t know exactly where the property was located. While I certainly have ideas about how to go about this, I will leave it to readers to determine exactly how it might be accomplished.

For some retreat owners, age might motivate their decision, their view being that having a group of younger individuals on the property would help to secure it far better than they could by themselves.

Retreat Ownership

On the downside, there is a potentially thorny and obvious issue: the sole ownership of the retreat. The owner of a yacht usually makes the decision about where it sails, and it is said that “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” The owner of the retreat will likely expect to make the important decisions once the group occupies the retreat and the routine of daily life is established.

Hopefully, the owner will approach his or her responsibilities in a way that makes it a benign dictatorship, not a petty fiefdom in which the members are treated as mere peasants. Human nature being what it is, however, the owners’ negative behavior could lead to resentment and even rebellion. Among the members themselves, there could be negative results from the courting of favor and jealous competition with others. Now we have a whole new “kettle of fish.”

A Sudden Realization

It is quite likely that many property owners who are not currently concerned about the chances of a national calamity occurring will change their attitudes after one occurs. They will have serious motivations to seek assistance from others after the threat to them and their property becomes serious and obvious. For them, it would simply be a matter of basic self-interest, even if helping others was, in fact, a part of their motivation.

If certain individuals were known in advance to be actively preparing for “bad times,” they might not even be told about the retreat and invited to join the group only after disaster struck. This alternative assumes, of course, that there would be a way with which to communicate with the prospective participants post-disaster. The decision to wait until after the disaster occurred before making the offer to prospective members also poses a risk that the offerees will decline the offer for a variety of reasons, thereby leaving the group short of the desired number of members, or short of members with desirable skill sets.


Note that with this last alternative the problem of members arriving at the retreat with additional family members or friends is not eliminated. This alternative also presents the risk that, because they would not be able to pre-position preps at the retreat prior to the disaster, individuals who were selected might not be able to transport a significant amount of their own preps to the retreat in their Ford Edge or Toyota Camry. As a result, they would relatively quickly become consumers of the retreat’s finite resources, rather than be contributors to them.

Of course, if some experts’ estimates are accurate, no one’s Edge or Camry will be going anywhere if the disaster involved is an EMP attack on the country, and that presents yet another dilemma.


The preceding discussion was not intended to provide a be-all and end-all solution to the problems that survival groups might face. I really don’t have one. But by pointing out problems and spotting issues, however, I hope that the article has stimulated thought and further study of the matter by those who are interested in the concept.

While implementation will be problematic to some extent, it seems clear that a survival group, either with or without a retreat, will have a much better chance of survival when times get really tough and when the rule of law is a distant, fond memory.

As I said at the very beginning, after TEOTWAWKI, it will “take a village,” but the devil is still, most assuredly, in the details.


  1. The only retreat group I see as viable are extended family members holing up together during a crisis. Not many situations outside of that are going to hold up in the face of starvation or extreme hardship.

    1. the key to a solid group is having a strong bond between members. anything else is fallacy. as for defending your retreat, your first test will be against people you are related to or know personally. if you cant do what is necessary when the time comes, you best keep your mouth shut so these folks dont know of your retreat existance. just remember, a very very small percentage of those who run their mouth will have the backbone to take action when needed. choose wisely in all things, your life does depend on it.

  2. Unprepared family will be your primary problem….. Showing up with kids in tow with absolutely nothing in the way of supplies. They heard you speak of prepareness, retreat, etc and here they are.They have done nothing and now want it all. It wont take them long to want to make the decisions,
    My rule. Opsec , opsec, opsec. Occupants of my retreat have skin in the game. Rules have been set. Responsibilities reviewed and accepted. Decision making and authority to enforce those decisions written in blood …..this aint no union shop.
    Some training every month. Not just running thru the woods in bdu’s with a weapon. Training in First aid, hygiene, op and patrol techniques, simple battle drills, camp cooking ,
    I am convienced the first use of deadly force with be at my front security gates with people that i know or am kin to. I am up to the task.
    God help us all in these troubled times.

  3. My tribe/ group consists of immediate family only. This way, everybody has skin in the game. “No inlaws, no outlaws, no boyfriends, no girlfriends” is our motto.
    It’s me the wife and the kids. If they get married, they can form their own.

    1. LO, that plan could work for a short-term event. But honestly how can a single immediate family maintain an alert, effective security watch every minute, 365 days a year? Those intending harm can choose just 1 minute out of 525,600 minutes a year. Boom! You are over-run. Maybe I am missing a method?

      1. I look at it a little different. My AO is in the panhandle of Idaho.. God help those intending harm up Hiway 3 3-8 or 6 There are so many like minded individuals in my immediate and surrounding area that any threat that might sprout up would be met with overwhelming opposition and force. Think of it like a gauntlet for anyone attempting to pillage or do harm. We all know each other, or at least have heard of each other, With a network of that magnitude, most of us can focus on family and community instead of security…. OPSEC isnt really a concern when this one guy we all know used our location for his novel.. If you get my drift. The biggest threat would be for people to mistake our kindness for weakness.

        1. LO, awesome Neighbor! We very much get your situation. It is much like ours. We looked VERY close at that area and know several wonderful patriot families there. Stay the course.

  4. A post-TEOTWAWKI world will revert back to an 1800’s like agrarian society. But unlike the 1800’s how many of us have the beast of burden and implements to plow and sow our land (assuming we have land to plow and sow)? Even with 1800’s farming “technology” farm families were very large primarily for the extra labor. Just look at the Amish as a prime example. The points are:
    1. Groups, however comprised, have pluses and minuses.
    2. Groups, need to be able to provide people for many daily manual labor tasks.
    3. Groups will have a different dynamic post-TEOTWAWKI – how someone reacts today in a “training” environment is not always how they will re-act in a real situation- stress floods the body with all kinds of chemicals that some will not be used to.
    4. Regardless of whether you have a group now or not you need a plan and process for adding people. Not many of us here would let a trauma doc keep walking down the road. That trauma doc will probably have a wife and kids too. Having pre-printed rules/expectations for new comers would be wise.

  5. [Maintaining] a road is a terrific way to get to know what kind of people your dealing with when it comes to who will step up during terrible circumstances. All sorts of good faith and selfish and wicked fruit bear themselves in the process in many different ways. We even have a guy who hates so much that he purposefully runs his ATV and truck when it rains. He makes it a point to hit the puddles as hard as he can to make them deeper so we will have to go back and grade the road or add gravel. We even tried putting gravel (at 400.00 a dump truck load) on his drive and he tries to be careful with it and continues his rampage on the road to try to prove what a great driver he is, while everyone avoids the puddles till they dry out to keep them from getting bigger by shoving the material out of them with the hydraulics.
    People will justify their selfishness by saying “they have equipment and we don’t). When you built a smaller house and you take care of your maintenance and try to be a good steward and count the cost without going on trips or buying expensive ATV/motorcycles and they run around on ATV/motorcycles and buying more cars. They hide in their house while you plow the road and fix your flat and drive back and forth parking in your emergency turn outs when you need them to plow. They don’t even come out to move their car without you having to stop and post hole up to their house (they do not even shovel their drive) to ask them to move their car. Then you’re the prick because you decide to not plow while they walk the mile to their house every night and walk a mile to warm up their car and clean it off of ice and snow. Then they do the same thing when you decide you will plow the road again after letters and “lessons not learned.” Makes you really have a conflict with loving your enemies and loving people. It is not cheap to run and break your back keeping this stuff running. You can have a lot of differences but we all have the road in common and need to set aside pride and selfishness and if you don’t help with the road , at least don’t be so lazy or wicked to make it harder for those who do what they can to keep it open.

    1. “They don’t even come out to move their car without you having to stop and post hole up to their house (they do not even shovel their drive) to ask them to move their car. Then you’re the >prick because you decide to not plow while they walk the mile to their house every night and walk a mile to warm up their car and clean it off of ice and snow.” …. ~>Good comment about Human Nature, C Burnett.
      ….. Some people do NOT appreciate what other people do for them. Usually, they also complain about NOT getting enough Free Stuff from the government. +They will also sneer at ‘do-gooders’ working to help the community.

      SurvivalBlog has good information about places to live, where people are more self reliant. … As to Charity, this article is still appropriate: =
      Bleeding Heart Tightwads. New York Times, DEC. 20, 2008< [Things might be different now days, and pigs might fly through the air like pigeons in New York City.]

      "Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates."
      "Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals."

  6. it will be chaos…nothing more-nothing less. How YOU approach and handle the chaos will determine your success…remember the 6P rule…Prior planning prevents p**s poor performance…and still it will be chaos…nothing more-nothing less.

    1. CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) also teaches good skills & leads to contact with like-minded people from your county. Scouting, volunteer fire departments, hiking/camping/bicycling groups are other possibilities.

  7. We have the decent place, wooded with both a creek and uphill spring water source, a 90 mile drive to the big city. Like many, we have miles to go before we sleep in terms of being “prepared”. Having the beans ,bullets, and bandages, along with the proper skill sets, is a long and sometimes daunting task. And now that nagging concern has been pushed to the fore…who the he’ll do we get to join our “team”?
    Again, like many, we have consumerist social media good time Charlie families, or at best, good hearts lacking belief in this necessity. Not to say woe is me, but what do we do? Maybe the answer really is, “If you can’t change your friends, you need to change your friends”.

  8. The biggest clash when SHTF will ultimately be the “city mindset” against the “country mindset”…..people in the country are self sufficient and responsible and city people leech off of others and blame everyone else for what they should be responsible for.

  9. The scam can work both ways, suppose you want to participate in a fractional ownership of a retreat, who’s to say the money you paid in or the tools and supplies you stashed there will actually be there when you arrive? Clever scammers could use up all the food, spend the money and sell the machinery and tools and sell the property too and be long gone, unless you are very very sure of the “content of their character” of your friends/relatives, plan on making the trek to the BOL several times a year or you may be in for a very unpleasant surprise. Personally I plan to hide in place for the first few months until its safe to barter or trade again. Once the EBT cards and Gas station pumps stop working and no food trucks are running, the city freaks will have eaten or shot each other or been herded into death camps. No one will be traveling much. Information will have as much importance as things to trade, if the Internet or local radio has been compromised, someone arriving from an outside area with current intel could trade that for a meal.

  10. We recently had to remove people from our private valley ,that just would not fit in ,, We for that reason only lease ground , We have rules ,if you can’t live with them ,don’t come ,, rule we have the most trouble with is no outbound web service in the valley ,

  11. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but I am one of many trying to survive Hurricane Michaele which whether anyone realizes or not was perhaps the worst storm to hit the continnetal US. The devastation here is beyond comprehension and we are now talking 8 months after the fact,

    Prior to the storm I had what I believed to be the ideal community established. We had 9 families all aligined and vowed to cover each other’s back. We live on a peninsula out on a lake which is easily defendend by land and also pretty much by water if we work together.

    When the hurricane hit everything went down. In reality my wife and I were the only ones able to deal with reality. All the others had not prepared as well as they had said. All depended on us and eventually turned hostile.

    Within days our community broke down to the extent that some threatened me to extremes I don’t care to discuss when I was the only one being able to and offereing supplies and services to everyone,

    Now months later I guess things are better but all the others are back to life as usual without thought for the future, preparedness or asking forgiveness.

    I have not forgotten lessons learned and will not much rely on “my” community.


  12. Just one more thing!
    I just want to say, I am not talking about hypothetical situations but actual real life as it is happening today. Please don’t think your community can survive a real tragedy. It probably can’t. Please try to plan accordinly.

  13. I get tired of hearing those in the “preparedness” community putting down the “lone wolves” no body really wants to be a lone wolf it is just too hard to find people on the same page and field that you are on. But we keep trying.

    1. I agree. Being a “lone wolf” isn’t my idea of ideal but compared to fair-weather family who think that I’ll provide for them out of guilt (when they earn more and have heard all the same warnings I have) or “friends” – I’ll take my chances, I know what my skills and abilities are. Most of the people I meet that are in the group with possibly valuable skills are often also in the leftist or ostrich group.

  14. Mickey D

    Not saying lone wolf is a bad thing, but if you look at the difficulty involved with only a couple people ( like 24/7 security ) and medical emergencies one can see that having a group of skilled and like minded persons that you can really count on is to be desired. My group of very solid people has an EMT, a doctor, a couple nurses ( including my youngest daughter ) and other guys with solid carpentry skill sets. I am the leader and as such have the most weapons, ammo, food and medical supplies. But I am fine with that because with our combined skills and knowledge we can barter services that others will need. And also have the people to maintain solid security 24/7 if the situation calls for it- which in a SHTF scenario is most likely.

  15. A short comment, reflecting what Wood Tamer says…

    “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
    ―Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Carry on

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