SURVIVAL: The ideal composition of a survival group


  • By: whitewolf
  • Posted on: December 18, 2012

A survival group is ideally composed of people with different traits and skills.  The traits and skills should be complementary.  As the same time, the values and beliefs should be similar, so that the goals are aligned and there is harmony in the group.    This article talks about the ideal mixed of a survival group.

Ideally, a survival group should be a large family group where all are related by blood or marriage.  As a large family group, there is never giving up on each other.  A family travels through live together, regardless of change of events.   But this is not always possible.   In my family, my siblings have no interest in being survival preppers.  Nor do they have the discipline and skills to make it work.  I love my siblings, and I’ll help them in a time of need.  But they can’t and will not be part of my survival group.

A survival group, at the very minimum, should be composed of 6 able-bodied adults, plus their children, plus perhaps their retired parents.   Ideally, I’d like to see a survival group composed of 8 to 12 able-bodied adults.   12 able-bodied adults represents 6 possible family group.  6 families is too much to put under one roof.   A survival group can exist in multiple houses, if the houses are within a 5 minute walk.   The balance in the number of able-bodied adults is: work load versus food production.   You need enough working adults to provide security, tend to the garden, earn income, care for children and bedridden adults, and managed the household.   But having more members in your group than can be fed puts the entire group at risk.

Also very important in a survival group is obtain the right mix of complimentary skills.  The following are the different skill set areas that should be considered with building your survival group.

  1. Leadership – Even in a family group, there must be leaders.  Leaders set the standards and provide a mechansim for making hard decisions.  During a time of crisis, there is often not enough time for management-by-committee.  A leader need not be dictatorial.  But rather can lead through example and knowledge.   And there can be more than one leader.   Each group should attempt to designate a leadership structure and a decision-making path.
  2. Medical Skills – The most idea situation would be for one of the survival group members to be a physician.  A nurse practitioners is next best.  Then having a registered nurse is next best.  As minimum, need someone with abilities to the level of an EMS person plus mid-wife skills.   The medical role in your group will need to handle or stabilize trauma, deep cuts, broken bones, chronic illnesses that might exist in your group, infections, infectious waterborne diseases, food poisoning, and the annual flu/cold.   The medical role will manage the medical supplies inventory and establish standard for cleanliness and sanitation.
  3. Food Production – Each group should have one or more people with successful experience with large-scale gardening or farming.  Animal raising skills are very desirable skills.
  4. Food Preservation – Preserving your food production is essential to a survival group.  Having someone experienced will home canning, dehydrating foods, meat jerkies, animal butchering, sausage making, and more are a must-have skill for a group.
  5. Self-defense and Security – One team member should take the lead on self-defense.  Ideally this person has vast knowledge and skills with firearms, and is able to teach firearms safety and usage.   Ideally this person has a FFL or firearms dealers license, so that guns and ammunition are purchased at wholesale prices.   Also having the ability to teach martial arts skills is very desirable.   This person will need to manage and oversee the security watches and defense preparations of the homestead.   This person will also likely take the lead with hunting efforts.
  6. Communication – This person ideally should have a ham radio license and ham radio equipment.   This person will also likely oversee the supply of batteries, hand communication devices, electronic security devices, battery rechargers, and solar power.
  7. Logistics – This is the role that keeps everything organized.  This person must be highly organized and disciplined.  The stores of long-term food, medical supplies, vitamins, tools, barter items, ammunition, gold & silver coins, fuel storage, and more will be tracked in detail by this person.
  8. Child Care and Home Schooling – This role will take the lead on day-to-day care of young children.  And perhaps this person will also manage home schooling of school-age children.
  9. Income Production – Hopefully some of your survival group members will retain their employment or be able to run a home-based business.   Recognized that income production is a priority in any group situation.  Before TEOTWAWKI, all members of the group will be responsible for their own income production.  After TEOTWAWKI, it is likely that all income will be pooled to support the entire group.
  10. Religious Practices – Your group might want to consider having a role as religious leader, if religion is an important element of your group.  If your group is not religious, then designate someone as the lead for morale and maintaining the mental health of the group.
  11. Energy Production – At minimum, your survival group will need to obtain, split and store firewood.   Perhaps a group member has skills in solar energy.  This person will need to have skills in electricity, deep cell batteries, and wiring.   Having skills to maintain electrical equipment and diesel motors will put your survival group ahead of the game.  Perhaps your group is able to produce bio-diesel, which would be a valuable resource to run vehicles and generators.   Other survival groups have the ability to produce hydro-power or wind-generated electricity.  Having access to surface coal or a producing propane well is a dream for many survival groups.
  12. Construction Skills – Carpentry, plumbing, and electrician skills have multiple benefits.  First, you can maintain, repair, and grow your homestead.  Second, the skills can offered for income or barter.   Every group should have some type of handyman to make small repairs and run small projects at the homestead.

Shared Roles and Responsibilities

The following are roles, duties and responsibilities that should be shared across the whole survival group.

  1. Meal Preparation – This duty should be shared, although a few members might cook more often due to having skills and interest
  2. Cleaning and Sanitation – Everyone should have responsibilities for keeping themselves and the homestead clean and disease free.
  3. Water Purification – This is an important daily responsibility that should be rotated  Another person should oversee the quality of water, since water is the most important component of any survival situation.
  4. Maintaining Security – Every able-bodied adult should take a security watch.   Every able-bodied adult should be prepared to defend their homestead with firearms.  Even little grandma should be able to point a 22LR rifle or pistol.   Security is shift work.  So having a mix of night owls and morning persons would be helpful.  There should be check and balances to watch for someone falling asleep or being caught by surprise by an attacker.
  5. Lifting One Another’s Spirits – In a SHTF, WROL, or TEOTWAWKI situation, it will be too easy to become depressed and despondent.  Everyone will be under great stress.  Children especially will be fearful and have nightmares.  Everyone will occasionally have a down, bad day.  The group must watch out for each other, and raise up the spirits of those having a bad day.   Keeping everyone well rested, well feed, and surrounded with loving people goes a long way to keep people in good mind-set.
  6. Tending to the garden or farm – Everyone will need to participate in planting, weeding, and harvesting.
  7. Daily Chores – Every homestead will have a unique set of daily chores that need to be attended to.  You might have chickens or rabbits to feed and harvest.  You might have cows or goats to milk.  Horses require lots of work.  A home is never without work to do.
  8. Home Based Business Activities – For your home-based business, lots of people can contributed, even if lacking skills.   If you have carpentry skills to offer, children can be runners to fetch nails and tools while on work sites.  If you are producing clothing, soap, butter, eggs, or endless opportunities to sell goods from your home, everyone can contribute to preparations and selling activities.

When you have a skills gap in your group, then use targeted learning or recruiting to gain those skills.  Allocate time and funds for a group member to obtain training in a missing skill set.  Once you have your survival group brought together into a cohesive organization, start cross training the skills.   Never have a single point of failure.  If the person with vital skill becomes ill or dies, the other group members should have enough knowledge to continue.

An effective survival group is composed of varying skills.  Regardless of skills inventory, every member of the group will need to carry a heavy workload.   Hard work and a team-oriented attitude are the keys to success.   Lazy people need not apply to a survival group.


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Updated: March 25, 2014 — 7:28 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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