United We Stand: How to Form a Successful Survival Group

United We Stand: How to Form a Successful Survival Group

Just because you’re a survivalist doesn’t mean you have to be a lone wolf.

Many aspects of survival preparation tend to focus on the individual, but everyone knows that a united force is stronger than an individual, so that should be taken into consideration by all preppers. In case of a disaster, alliances would make a whole lot of sense.

Being part of a survival group could be your saving grace. It’s not hard to form a basic survival group, and as the saying goes, many hands make light work. Read on to see how you can get your own group going and be ready for just about anything the world can throw at you.

Whether we are at work or at home, humans are social beings and often depend on networks of people to get things done. In an emergency, a good network can make things easier and provide greater security and emotional support (ThinkStock.com).

“In the case of a disaster, alliances would make a whole lot of sense.”


Safety in numbers is a tactic mankind has used since the beginning of time. A group of people offers more protection than an individual ever could. There are many dangers in survival situations but being in a group can lessen some of the more dangerous threats. Group members could support each other if desperate individuals come looking to help themselves to your stores. And let’s not forget about dangers from wild animals trying to take your food, water or otherwise do harm to you. In a group situation, you can be sure your supplies are being watched at all times because people can take turns sleeping and keeping watch.

In addition to protection against violence, a group serves a purpose of keeping things going. Should an individual get injured or ill, there will be others to pick up the slack until he or she recovers.

If you’re injured or sick, you cannot provide food, warmth or security, so having backup is important.

In an emergency, medical care will be hard to come by, so the more people in a group who are trained in emergency care, the better (ThinkStock.com).


Having a group of people working together in a dire situation can greatly enhance what gets done. Think about how much easier it is to perform basic or demanding tasks, such as carrying a large log to the fire pit, when you’re part of a group.

Also, a group allows each individual to focus on what he or she does best. Looking at primitive skills alone, there was probably one person in the village that could flint knap better than all the others so they all benefitted from that person’s expertise.

If you plan on providing food for people, agriculture is the long-term way to go, and it often takes a number of people to do this type of work (ThinkStock.com).

If he or she could flint knap better than the rest of the group members, that meant the tools and arrows made with those tips were more effective. So, instead of having to hunt and cut firewood, that person could have traded off the production of their superior knapping skills for food and fuel. A group of people working together means the work will get done more efficiently because there will inevitably be those who “specialize.” Also, you can get a whole lot more done in less time with a group, a huge advantage in the great outdoors.


A group of people can bring more hard goods—food, fuel and tools— to the table than an individual. And there is also a resource that increases significantly: knowledge. It is easy enough to teach someone how to fire a weapon or pump a water purifier, but how easy is it to copy skill sets refined by years of training? It’s likely that, in a group of preppers, there will be a bevy of knowledge about a wide range of useful topics.

Maybe your group will even have a welder, a mechanic or a doctor in it!


Leadership is essential for the coordination and success of any group.

Before you solidify any group, a form of “government” must be agreed upon. Keep in mind, the reason why the military doesn’t use a democratic model is because you have to take into account qualifications and the fact that, in an emergency, voting might not be the quickest way to respond.

Things to consider in a group situation are rotating the leadership and its forms. A good example of leadership rotation: During the ongoing emergency period, each person takes a turn leading the group for a set period of time and everyone agrees to this plan. An example of rotating leadership systems: In non-life-threatening situations, the group could have one coordinating leader who organizes a discussion and then takes a vote; during a life-threatening event, one individual might be recognized as the most qualified person, therefore anything he or she decides is to be acted on without discussion to expedite a quicker, more effective response.

Survival groups can make the work easier, but first, a lot of work has to be done to make sure they run effectively, and leadership is key.

People with knowledge are an important resource; for instance, a mechanic could provide valuable repairs on a number of things we use to get through our daily lives (ThinkStock.com).


Another thing that is not to be underestimated is the amount of emotional support a group can provide to its members. Few people have the resilience to withstand stress for long periods of time, but if you have a sturdy mutually supportive emotional network, you can cope much better with the emotional demands of a survival situation.

“Survival groups can make the work easier, but first, a lot of work has to be done to make sure they run effectively, and leadership is key.”

Many hands make light work. Not every chore during the day requires a specialized skill, but a lot of them are more easily and quickly accomplished with help (ThinkStock.com).

Every group should establish a way of dealing with issues that works to empower each individual in it. Everyone is more likely to feel happy about a course of action if they feel that their concerns are taken into consideration, and a person’s need for involvement varies based on the individual.


Training is a primary need. Everyone in the group should be added because of an important skillset he or she already has, but there is no reason not to gain more knowledge from each other. Someone in the group should keep track of the skills each person possesses. Remember, doubling up on a skill never hurts.

Arrange to train as a group by heading out to some of the pioneer or primitive living camps that teach traditional skills.


Forming a survival group can be a very important part of preparing for worst-case scenarios, and if you find the right people for the right jobs, everything will fall into place. Minds are the first and most important tools at hand, so a good collection of them can lead not only to surviving adversity but thriving in the face of it.

Large supplies like water and preserved food should be on location or organized and ready to go if the group has to move (ThinkStock.com).

Survival is a lot like real estate: three of the most important considerations are- location, location, location. While the requirements are a little different, the process of choosing a location for a group should be no different from an individual plan. There will be times you should bug out and other times when you should dig in, so take both into account when making the plan. Locations and methods of travel should be preplanned, keeping in mind that moving and feeding a group, or even getting a group a supply of water, is a large job. When looking at hunkering down, the obvious answer would be to stockpile the heavier items like food and water at the pre-determined location along with other back-up supplies.

Each member of the group should also leave sleeping gear and a clothing stash at the location in the event that he or she makes it to the location but, for whatever reason, cannot bring personal gear. If you have to move the group, segments of the trip should never be so long that you run the risk of separating, and all plans and backup plans should be explained clearly to every member of the group. Groups will move slowly, but with proper planning, things will go smoothly and, above all, your chances of survival will be much better than if you were on your own.


Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the April 2014 print issue of American Survival Guide.

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