The “Survival Community” Myth

About once a month or so, I see posts made on various survival-related online forums by people seeking to either form a “survival community” or join an existing one. Here’s a hard truth these people need to learn — there just ain’t no such thing (for the most part).

Now, before my inbox explodes with emails from people who wish to argue the point, let me at least define a couple terms and state my case.

This is how I define a survival community: An established parcel of land, with existing structures, occupied solely or at least mostly by survivalists or preppers who have banded together to work with each other towards some degree of self-sufficiency. The way they are often portrayed by people who post about their plans for creating such an animal, they talk about hundreds of acres of both wilderness and tillable land, raising livestock, tending massive gardens, an established leadership structure, homeschooling for the kids, and of course the requisite security components (vast armory, trained soldiers patrolling the grounds, etc.). Think a hippie commune but with guns.

This differs from the much more common retreat group. A retreat group I define as being a collection of family and/or friends who have a spot of land somewhere they may visit from time to time as recreational property but also with some sort of plan to “get together” if something major were to happen. The land could be jointly owned, old family property, or perhaps an individual has the title but allows the remainder of the group access to it. There may or may not be established structures on the property. The group may rarely get together as a complete unit. Some of the group may not even really be considered preppers, but they are included in any overall survival plans because of their connection to the group. Think of a hunting cabin with acreage where family and friends go in the summers to ATV and winters to snowmobile.

Of all the thousands of people I’ve met online and in real life, I can count on one hand the number of people who have an actual survival community set up. I could count the number of people whom I truly believe have an established survival retreat group on all of my appendages with a few to spare.

Lots of folks like to dream about survival communities and that’s not inherently bad. But, if y’all are waiting (and hoping) to join one so you’re “set” if the feces hit the rotary air movement device, think again. That’s just not gonna happen.

There are all sorts of issues that come into play when you talk about these survival communities. Operated as described above, which is admittedly a pie in the sky description to begin with, it is pretty much doomed to failure. See, here’s the thing. Survivalists are generally, by their very nature, individualistic and kinda hard-headed. We don’t like being told what to do, do we? In fact, many of us downright chafe under authority. We like to go our own way, do our own thing. Getting a big group of us together to work on a project, especially a really long-term one, amounts to the old “too many chiefs, not enough indians” problem.

Plus, many of these so-called plans for survival communities have lists of desired occupations, don’t they? Gotta have a doctor or two, a few nurses, some combat hardened vets, a mechanic or three, farmers, ranchers, teachers, et cetera, ad nauseum. It just isn’t anywhere near realistic to somehow manage to get all these people together, most of whom probably haven’t met before, and put them in a room and expect them to all get along, agree on most everything, and start working on a major project.

How do you decide who leads such a community? Is it the person who contributed the most funds? What if that person develops into a raving lunatic under the pressure of leadership?

Many of the people who have these vast plans for a survival community have not one clue what it would take to actually get one running. They don’t understand just how much work it would be just on a day to day basis, let alone after all the external support services cease to exist.

I’m not saying it absolutely can’t be done. I know folks who are doing it. But, it wasn’t an easy road by any means and I’m double darn sure they aren’t looking to increase their membership right now. To join an existing community like that involves an extremely extensive vetting process. It isn’t like you can fill out an application, go through a thirty minute interview, and you’re in. We’re talking several months, at a minimum.

Instead of hoping to find an established community where you can live out your days, focus on your own immediate survival needs. Get together a retreat group if you’d like but don’t count on any of them riding in like the cavalry if the balloon goes up. Make your own plans, stick to them, and get prepared. Remember, the only person you can really, truly count on is yourself.

Comments

  1. These are all relevant points and I see what you’re saying. It is always wise to properly define what one is taking about. Thanks.

  2. Dan says:

    you have some good points but, there is no way anyone can go it alone if the S%#T hits the fan. You will need a group to survive. Really, it sounds like the typical 21st cent whiner who says, ” oh, dont try, its to hard” Sure its going to be hard but in the military you are put with people that you dont know but you develope into a cohesive group. There will always be weak links or even trouble makers, but those things tend to work themselves out, if you know what i mean. As far as leadership, It 1st it will be the person who started the group. But if another leader coms forword the group will do whats best for the group,. Anyway, jujst because its is hard to form a working group is no reason not to try. No matter how well you prepair, if you go it alone, you will die !!!

  3. Survival Weekly says:

    Dan, I’m totally with you on how difficult it would be for someone to go it alone. Check out my article titled Lone Wolf Syndrome on the Articles page of this site. The point of my post about the Survival Community Myth was that many people have a rather unrealistic view of the amount of time and effort it will take to make such an idea workable. Further, I see post after post on various survival forums from people looking to join a survival community and the reality is there just aren’t that many established groups to begin with.

  4. I have been a prepper Since I was very Young. I was raised in a sustainable Living enviroment. I remember hearing this same arguement Was I was Young, and Your are 100% right. When SHTF, you wont worry about your friends otr community, It will be about you and your family. The rest will happen naturally.

  5. Sabotage says:

    I think you are plainly mistaken. Have you ever watched the discovery show ” The Colony”. Reality show that experiments on starting colonies of complete strangers. People who have the desire to thrive and survive in hardships know that strength lies in numbers. By our very nature, Man is resourceful. We have “adapted” to new conditions since the beginning of man . Who are we to judge a personality type on someone who has a strong will to live and be in control of their own fate. Your issues with the politics and actual mechanics of the colony sounds an awful lot like the anti- expansionist before the American West got settled. Things work out with time. Man is capable of adapting. I also think that you spend too much time in the main stream of survivalist and preppers. sometimes you need to look behind the bushes.. Look forward to seeing you at our online community for survivalist, preppers and any who chose to save themselves

  6. Survival Weekly says:

    First of all, you aren’t seriously using reality TV shows as a way of supporting your argument, are you? You do realize that pretty much all reality TV shows are not at all what they portray themselves to be, right?

    Second, I agree that Man is resourceful and will almost always find a way to overcome obstacles. No argument there. The point of the article is that many people have a “pie in the sky” vision of what a survival community is and what it isn’t.

    It is a lot of hard work. It is doomed to failure without strong, intelligent leadership.

    It isn’t for the faint of heart, nor for those who aren’t willing to pull their own weight.

    And I have looked behind the bushes a time or three, even spent some time there. In large part, I found too many armchair survivalists and keyboard warriors, rather than people who truly knew what they were doing.

  7. one says:

    I personally have prepaired rather well. maybe I could do better there’s always room for improvement, but every one here has had good points,
    we must remember everyone sits in a different chair at the table, I find that wakening up late has not hindered me to get what I need, but to find a group is near impossible.
    Iam on the west coast. looking to relocate, and family and freinds all don’t get it. So I find myself alone ….. how does one find survival group for one. umm. All the statements that individuals won’t survive. I believe is correct, but when you have a fractured family and your friend ridicul your idea of even a reason to prepair for a threat. what does one do.??

  8. Mary says:

    NC: It is just my husband and me: I am 59, he is 63, retired military. We have kids on the opposite coast, too far to reach. We want to prep, but fear we could not defend our suburban home for more than about a week. We would like to find a SMALL group who live in a rural area who are willing to pool resources and skills to survive. We can’t do some of the things we could do at 30, but we are willing, and we have skills,. Because we are a little older than some preppers, it shouldn’t mean we deserve to become food for the Golden Horde.

  9. samsister says:

    I’m a 64 yr old Christian female who’s close friends and viable relatives have passed, and have limitations on labor, but funds to purchase basics. I stocked up on canned goods and dried food, water, tablets to purify, emergency candles, medical supplies, but no generator, gas storage, MRE’s, too expensive, and live too far from town or people to even get my mail, with no gas. I wonder how I’ll make it, since my water pump has to have electric. If summer, it’s a no brainer, since I over heat in seconds. I looked for a group, but found this blog, so I’ll hunker in a pray I guess. I’ve enough canned food for 2-3 wks at best. Input is appreciated.

  10. JimCobb says:

    Do you have any neighbors in your area you know fairly well? Anyone at all with whom you might be able to work out some sort of arrangement whereby they can look in on you from time to time or help out here and there? You might also consider checking with websites like Meetup.com to see if there are prepper groups in your area. Another option is to join Yahoo Groups like Women Survivalists and network with members. You may be surprised and find someone in your local area.

    As for supplies, just keep adding what you can to your food and water storage. I agree with you, MREs are expensive. On top of that, most of ‘em don’t taste all that great to begin with. You’re better off storing things you already know you like to eat. Look around on Craigslist and Freecyle for a generator. It costs you nothing to look and you might find one at a bargain price. You won’t need much just to keep your water pump going.

  11. Justin says:

    In my humble opinion, finding a preexisting group is kind of a bad choice. Well, I shouldn’t say bad choice because I am sure that in some situations, it will work fine. But if a larger group runs out of food and knows about yours from online chatter, you are going to be in deep trouble.

    Most survival groups will form in the communities and neighborhoods around you. The local baseball diamond will now be a vegetable garden and the local school will act as a town hall, hospital or whatever facilities are needed.

    You are surrounded by lots of great people that are willing to help each other out. I just hope that some one in your neighborhood has the leadership abilities to organize it.

  12. Marcous says:

    I am in my mid 30s and a eagle scout, and i am finding out that i am a noob in this field. but taking steps as able to fix it. Got to thinking about it when our power-plant was shut down do to over icing and whatnot. Me and a few friends got together to form a group. we are more like a hunter group then a community but in our plans we are including plans for civilization reformation. but that’s to look at the big picture. were are still prepping for ourselves as individuals. just my to since on the matter. any help would be a great boon.

  13. TD says:

    just a few things to say. it is posabel to make it by your self. i grew up mostly in the woods. and found out being alone dont mean u r by yourself . i cant spell good so im sorry if this dont make since to some. i have more friends in the woods than i ever met out here. all it takes to survive is be thankfull for what u get and be happy with it. dont expect nothing from noone. but love everyone . be with the woods not in the woods. its realy a wonderfull life. and i cant wait to get back there.most people dread whats comeing. i look forward to it ty.

  14. Charles Miller says:

    Sent via anonymous proxy sever to: whom it may concern,

    The following link lists 10 KNOWN government installations designed for exactly the scenario discussed in this thread……..

    http://www.survival-spot.com/survival-blog/10-impressive-doomsday-bunkers/

    Anyone that believes that it’s impossible to establish a survival community need only follow the above link to discover just how possible it is.

    All you need is a major goventment organization, unlimited financial resources and the foresight to conceive the unimaginable and the knowledge of what you are up against. Alternatively, have some indisposable occupation or capability. Then you will have your community or at least be included in theirs.

    Barring belonging to this “inner circle club,” think about this. ……Do you think the people in power are geniuses? Are they special in any way? Better than you? If these people can conceive, develop and execute a chain of command, and a means to preaserve it for YEARS on such a massive scale, why can’t a select few “outsiders” do the same albiet on a less grandiose level?

    One last thought. The 10 bunkers listed are PUBLIC knowledge. Since the public knows less than 5% of what the government is actually doing and 50% of what you think you know is disinformation. What is the extent of your true knowledge regarding the threats you will be facing and what are” they” not telling you?

    Thanks for listening
    97bravo20

  15. Michael says:

    I am a 64 year old Male, my partner is 56..we have enough food for at least 4 months and water for 3 weeks..we have 1 rifle and a large amt of ammunition.
    The one thing we lack is a place to set up and people we can trust…we will probably have to make do where we are for the time being..of course this could change at any time.

  16. Alex O says:

    I am the former publisher of savvysurvivor.com and am still active in several forums, although I never updated savvysurvivor.com since 2005, I have to say that the situation since this article was published in 2011 has also changed a lot.

    People are networking and establishing the retreats, and some like myself are already volunteering resources to get the retreat networks established and improved. I have built solar powered water pumping stations, dug ditches, planted crops, tended trees and even done construction and remodel work at survival retreats in the western states.

    What matters in the here and now is getting the groups and retreats put together in the here and now, because if you wait until you actually need it, you will be behind the curve in a big way.

  17. JimCobb says:

    I’d agree that things have changed dramatically in the last couple years. I plan on addressing that in an upcoming article.

  18. ROB says:

    Glad to have fund this site! I live in the Missouri Ozarks. I have spent most of my life as a Lone Wolf . Often times out in the bush for 30 days at a time alone. A Lone Wolf can surivive in the wilderness or urban area. But supplies and resources are hard to come by. The Wilderness will not provide what it did 30 years ago or even 10 years ago. Also, what if you get injured you will most probly die without assistance! I have had these experiences with bad luck I once dislocated a knee, Another time fractured a tibia and femur at the same time, I got 3rd degree burns, broke 3 ribs. Broke an ankle. Nearly drowned and lost my transportation all on week long excurtions. Each Time I had to adapt overcome and get my self to help alone. I even had to sew my own thumb back on once. One Time I even had to sew my Horse up.
    Bottom Line if you are Lone Wolfing it. You are the only help you have and you must depend on the gear and experience you have available. You can not sleep and provide security at the same time!
    There is a reason that the military works in a miminal of 6
    man teams and even then it is on the budy system. Even the Navy Seals, Marine Recon, Army Green Brets have a support base. and supply system. Even if it is the locals of the area they are operating in.
    Long Term Surivival depends on a support system Products and tools must be maded or bartered for. Security can only be found in numbers as the collpase lengthens in time frame. There has never been a fortress that has not been sacked given enough time. Simply because you can not stock enough supplies to last indifintely. So, all communties depend on farming or bartering for food. Thus, Survival Communities or Emergency Preparedness Alliances are a must. As society become older the need for muptible caregivers, workers, security and long rane patrol or scagavers quickly add to the need for larger retreats.
    I was raised in Oregon County of the Missouri Ozarks. My family has lived here since the early 1800,s Our family gave the 175 acers of land to the county to have the town of Alton built to become the new county seat in 1840.Our family survived the war of 1812 , the Civil War, and the Great Depression in these Ozark Hills. I spent most of my youth in the timber hunting and fishing out doors and working the family farm. As I got older I began trapping and camping the area wilderness. This lead to becoming a guide for hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, Horse back riding, and backpacking guide trips for the area. I spent ten years in the military traveling the world over. Came home and began the wilderness guide services. In the off seasson I spent years as a travel nurse traveling around our Great Country. The more I have seen the more concrened I have become about the futrue of America and our way of life. With that thought in Mind I began the The Emergency Preparedness Alliance with my neighbors. To ensure that as Americans we will always have a foundation to rebuild from. To restore and maintain the Self-Reliance and Self-Suffinency and American Independence I grew up with. Later I began building retreats for the WHAGlad to have fund this site! I live in the Missouri Ozarks. I have spent most of my life as a Lone Wolf . Often times out in the bush for 30 days at a time alone. A Lone Wolf can surivive in the wilderness or urban area. But supplies and resources are hard to come by. The Wilderness will not provide what it did 30 years ago or even 10 years ago. Also, what if you get injured you will most probly die without assistance! I have had these experiences with bad luck I once dislocated a knee, Another time fractured a tibia and femur at the same time, I got 3rd degree burns, broke 3 ribs. Broke an ankle. Nearly drowned and lost my transportation all on week long excurtions. Each Time I had to adapt overcome and get my self to help alone. I even had to sew my own thumb back on once. One Time I even had to sew my Horse up.
    Bottom Line if you are Lone Wolfing it. You are the only help you have and you must depend on the gear and experience you have available. You can not sleep and provide security at the same time!
    There is a reason that the military works in a miminal of 6
    man teams and even then it is on the budy system. Even the Navy Seals, Marine Recon, Army Green Brets have a support base. and supply system. Even if it is the locals of the area they are operating in.
    Long Term Surivival depends on a support system Products and tools must be maded or bartered for. Security can only be found in numbers as the collpase lengthens in time frame. There has never been a fortress that has not been sacked given enough time. Simply because you can not stock enough supplies to last indifintely. So, all communties depend on farming or bartering for food. Thus, Survival Communities or Emergency Preparedness Alliances are a must. As society become older the need for muptible caregivers, workers, security and long rane patrol or scagavers quickly add to the need for larger retreats.
    I was raised in Oregon County of the Missouri Ozarks. My family has lived here since the early 1800,s Our family gave the 175 acers of land to the county to have the town of Alton built to become the new county seat in 1840.Our family survived the war of 1812 , the Civil War, and the Great Depression in these Ozark Hills. I spent most of my youth in the timber hunting and fishing out doors and working the family farm. As I got older I began trapping and camping the area wilderness. This lead to becoming a guide for hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, Horse back riding, and backpacking guide trips for the area. I spent ten years in the military traveling the world over. Came home and began the wilderness guide services. In the off seasson I spent years as a travel nurse traveling around our Great Country. The more I have seen the more concrened I have become about the futrue of America and our way of life. With that thought in Mind I began the The Emergency Preparedness Alliance with my neighbors. To ensure that as Americans we will always have a foundation to rebuild from. To restore and maintain the Self-Reliance and Self-Suffinency and American Independence I grew up with. Later I began building retreats for the WHAT iFS OF THE WORLD Now I would like to offer you a chance to expereince the piece of mind and long term security that preplanning can provide. CHECK OUT MY WEB PAGE Abc4sos.com

    Thank you, for your interest!
    Robert

  19. Ava Adams says:

    I don’t see why people don’t just have their immediate family learn specific important skills instead of trying to force a group of those occupations together. There are a million and one informative books, websites, etc for people to learn about things from survival nursing to building their own windmills and generators, etc…. I’d rather bone up on the important stuff and ensure MY family is safe. Then if it comes down to encountering other people I could worry about qualifications and temperament of the individuals.

  20. jim noble says:

    We have a shooting resort in KY and what started out to be home sites for our shooters that come many tines a year for shooting competions or just to train or shoot sporting clays, it has now turned into our 2nd amendments village which is not a survival community but a lifestyle for shooting enthusiaest. It is a place to live and be prepaired and be self sufficient, while having vast resources available for thoes who want to take atvantage of them. Rockcastle has naturalgas wells,underground water sorces, over 25 miles of maped caverns under 4 big caves, several hundred acres of tillable land on two thousand acres, an 18 hole golf course and we border a 60 thousand acre national park. This lets like minded Americans have a place bug out to but not be tied to anything they do not want to pertisapate in.

  21. In town garden NDakota homestead
    Your own room with all amenities
    two men who grow hydroponics we
    dehydrate and can our own food
    2 houses 2 acre shop greenhouse
    a ‘safe locations’ rural lifestyle
    Call:(701)477-0056 humvee@myway.com
    http://poleshift.ning.com
    There are many of us out here who have quitely prepared
    and don’t want money but batrter and learn skills as we go
    Our family are too comfortable so won’t come or work if they did come.
    We have the things you say here land, tools pots and pans etc.
    We do have housing for a couple like Mary above, good hearted folk

  22. jimbo says:

    So far, all I can work on is going it alone. I cannot fine like minded and trustable people. I am thinking a two story cement built residence for me. No windows on first floor. Then a fence circling the cement building where other people and families live. They can build shelters inside the circle. I lower down food each day in the morning and night. They protect me because I am providing their food. I do realize those I am feeding would kill me if they had an opportunity. Should they let outsiders inside the circle there would be much less food for them. The people inside the circle will do the fighting for me. However, I will be very secure inside my cement two story building. Sure, they will try to take me out, but after a few failures they will quite and decide it is not worth it. They might learn to respect my discipline and preparation for their future. To be sure, this old man is more than just capable.

  23. JimCobb says:

    Jimbo, I can’t tell if you’re being serious or if this is the plot of some novel in the works….

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Back just about two years ago, I wrote a blog post discussing what I called the “Survival Community Myth.” You can read that post here. [...]

Speak Your Mind

*