Conventional wisdom maintains that preppers need to group together so as to have better odds of surviving in a future challenging situation. We don’t disagree, indeed, quite the opposite – we strongly urge you to do exactly that.
At the same time, we also anticipate that should the rule of law and society in general, break down at a future time, then some of the quickly starving and deservedly panicked vast majority of the country are going to have no choice but to come after us and our stocks of food and demand we share with them. Indeed, a demand that we share our food is probably close to a best case scenario! Roving gangs of marauding looters who selfishly take all they can carry with them, and senselessly destroy anything they leave behind, is a far grimmer but also realistic future to consider.
Let’s think about the group of people who will pose the greatest threat to us in such a future situation. They will be people with firearms, some skills, and who know to quickly evacuate the major cities and head out into the countryside. These people will have the ability to survive at least to the point where they can then start to look at somehow creating a new living environment for the future. These people – and while we don’t like it, we have to understand the motivation and accept the reality of it – will not hesitate to demand and require us to share what we have with them. They might even demand we share our shelter as well as our food – they might say ‘there’s plenty of room in your retreat for us to join you’, and that’s assuming they’re as kind as to allow us the option to stay in what was formerly our retreat and share it with them!
Now think some more about the profile of this type of person. While hopefully the truly lawless members of roving gangs who will gleefully and wantonly rape, pillage and plunder their way through the countryside are not people we come into daily contact with, this other type of person might well be people we already know.
If you think about it, we are describing ‘wanna be’ preppers, aren’t we. People with a few spare cans of beans, an extra container of gas for their vehicle, some outdoor clothes, a firearm or two, and several boxes of ammunition.
We were guiltily reminded of that, ourselves, when a neighbor was proudly showing us his basement wine cellar. To get to his wine cellar, we walked through a walled in semi-finished extension of his sub-grade basement, and at the end of it, we went through a door and into the wine cellar. All the way through this extension, he had built shelving and it was reasonably full of stored food and assorted other things. A great suburban prepper set-up, enough to get him through a week or two or three of problems.
Good for him.
Two thoughts flashed through our mind. The first was one of delight – ‘Aha! A fellow prepper. Wait till we impress him with what we have in our house, next door!’. Sure, he had us beat when it came to wine collections, but we figured we were far ahead of the game with stored food and other supplies.
The second was a wry naughty thought ‘We’ll know where to go if we run out of supplies ourselves or if they’re not at home WTSHTF’ and accompanied by a subtle scan of what he had, looking also for any evidence of self-defence capabilities.
But then, the mirror image of the second thought hit us, and we realized ‘We have more stuff than him, and if we now show that all to him, he’ll know where to go when he runs out’.
We also realized that if we tell him about what we have, then the next time he proudly shows someone his wine cellar and they say ‘Wow, John, we never knew you had so much food stored down here’ then what will he say? In a sense of false modesty, he might say ‘Well, if you think that’s a lot, you should see what Dave has next door’.
Not only will he know about our stored supplies, but so too, over time, will any number of other people, unknown to us.
So we held our silence and said nothing. If things go bad in the future, we can group together with him – or not – on our terms, and in a controllable manner.
The same is even more true if you have a rural retreat. You probably can’t and don’t want to obscure the fact you have a nice countryside second home, but have it planned so that if (when) you invite friends to come stay with you for a weekend, it looks like a generic regular country home, not a hardened retreat stocked full of supplies of every possible type.
Don’t boast about your ‘off-grid’ capabilities. Play down how effective your solar cells are, and make them seem like a grid-tied system – ‘Yes, they help a bit, but they’re older generation and don’t make much power, and only do anything in the brightest sunlight anyway, plus the crazy way it is wired up, if the utility’s power goes down, ours goes down too’. Have your storage rooms locked off and not obviously taking up lots of space. Talk about how cold it gets in winter because it is poorly insulated. And so on.
Another thing not to show would be any firearms you have, or perhaps, at least don’t show more than a normal number of firearms and a limited supply of ammunition. If someone does decide to pay you a ‘surprise visit’ subsequently, it is better they think you are reasonably defenseless, unaware, and easy to surprise and overpower. That way, they’ll be less stealthy and more overt when they appear on your doorstep. But if they think you’re fully equipped with firearms and have the skills to use them effectively, they’ll seek to surprise you, or pick you off, one by one, in the fields.
Your plan should be to identify like-minded people who you might wish to invite to join you in the future, and to identify people who have some degree of preparedness. But think carefully before revealing too much about your own situation any sooner than you must. In a future chaotic collapse of everything, you just don’t know who your friends will be, and you want to be able to select such people on your terms, not on their terms.
Unless you have people who are equally invested in the success of your retreat, you don’t know what to expect from others. People with greater capabilities than you might decide they want to grow their supplies by picking off smaller less strong retreats and their inhabitants, and for sure, people with less resource than you will be desperate to beg/borrow/steal whatever they can from wherever they can.
You can only plan on the support of people who are mutually invested in a shared success in the future where what is good for you is good for them and vice versa. This might be adjacent retreat owners – by grouping together you create a stronger community and a shared regional defense force. It might be selected friends and family who would have nothing if they weren’t a part of your group – but you always need to be careful, when inviting such people to join with you, that they don’t in turn bring along their friends, who in turn bring their friends, and so on, such that you’re not only overwhelmed with additional guests, but it becomes ‘their’ retreat by simple weight of numbers, rather than yours.
In the case of my neighbor, he’s sadly an unrealistic liberal. Doesn’t like firearms, and if there’s a problem, he’ll probably not only volunteer to share his food, but will then of course insist that we volunteer to share our food too. Would he fight to save himself, his family, and his provisions? Almost certainly not – I can just hear him and his wife proclaiming ‘Nothing is worth sacrificing a human life for’ without realizing that by allowing their provisions to be taken from them, they have just sacrificed their own lives for no good purpose.
So now I know where to go if I run out of wine. But he doesn’t know where to go when he runs out of food. That’s the way I like it.
One other quick example. The people several houses over are very like-minded folks, although they have little stored up as preps. But WTSHTF, they’ll be the family I turn to for mutual support, not the neighbor with the wine. The other family has what it takes to survive and win – they’re tough-minded realists who would be prepared to fight to protect themselves and those they are allied with. But they don’t know we plan to invite them to come join forces with us if we’re somehow stranded in the town rather than able to get to our retreat. We’ll tell them that if and when it becomes necessary and appropriate, and not before.
Until that time though, we’ve done a few things together – we’ve taken them to a local gun range and helped them with their skills, and we’ve discussed, over a few beers, what would happen if things went wrong. So we’re laying the groundwork, but not revealing anything that would limit our options.
You should do the same.