Phoenix Bird


Getting the Right People for Your Survivalist Group

Recruiting the kind of people you want for your group is one of the most difficult challenges you face. When you form a mutual aid agreement with another person/group, you need to know that you can depend on them, trust them, and count on them to not rob you blind if they stop in to borrow your car jack after you've revealed the location of the extra house key. Also, you may need to recruit in someone with certain skills, such as a medic or a radio man. There are a number of methods available for recruiting, some of which are listed below in an order indicative of the level of security presented by each:

~Recruiting from a pool of family members and friends
~Recruiting at gun shows, preparedness expos, and other survivalist-oriented events
~Recruiting in chatrooms that cater to survivalists
~Recruiting via advertisements in newspapers, magazines, bulletin boards, and the internet

Recruiting from family and friends

This method of recruiting has a built-in comfort zone - people you've known and trusted for years will be the most likely to preserve your security. This is also the group most likely to take what you have to say seriously - they already know you to be a reasonable and rational person. When recruiting from this group, there are two possible approaches: the direct approach (i.e. "This is what I believe, this is what I'm doing about it, are you interested in getting involved?") and the end-around play (i.e. "That [tornado or hurricane or earthquake] in [GA or FL or CA] sure was a bad one. The past couple of years there have been some major natural disasters, and it got me thinking about how well I would fare if I was caught up in something like that, so I've been ...etc. etc." This one is especially sweet, since spring in New York brought a round of tornado warnings and a few touchdowns in the Northern Tier of PA and across NY State. My daughter was on the phone with me half an hour before a late spring tornado touched down less than 20 miles from her place; she wanted to know what to take to the basement with her and the kids! It was a refreshing change of attitude on her part toward preparedness, and a great relief to me as the grandmother of two wonderful little boys. No matter which approach you use with the family and friends crowd, you are talking to people you can count on, people you've likely used as confidantes through the years, and who are most likely to understand the language you speak.

Recruiting at survivalist-oriented events

While not quite the same as recruiting from well known associates, this type of recruiting has an advantage over some other types: the instant face-to-face (FTF) meeting. Here you get a chance to "size up" your prospects. Are they clean, articulate, intelligent, in good physical condition well-informed, cautious without being paranoid, and someone you could work with? This is something you can judge before the end of your initial conversations with them. Although preferable to the "blind" contact, this recruiting method calls for a high degree of follow-up, an extended familiarization period, and a slow building of trust between the parties involved. Still, this is one way to get to check out a number of people in a single outing instead of meeting a number of people over an extended time period.

Recruiting in chatrooms

This method is viable but has a number of drawbacks, not the least of which is that you can't see who you're talking to - for many months I was mistaken for a member of the opposite sex because of my strong opinions and ability to "talk trash" with the guys. Screen names can be rather ambiguous... still, the person you're chatting with in real time has to have a certain amount of knowledge in order to keep up with the flow of messages. In order to sort out the gamers and posers, you have to ask the right questions and know the right answers. If the prospect is claiming to have been a member of the military stationed at some remote outpost, you need to find someone whom you know was there and get them involved in the chat. People who are pretending to be practical survivalists don't hold up well when asked pertinent and specific questions about their activities, equipment preferences, training methods, etc. If you encounter a gamer/poser, give him/her the opportunity to back out gracefully before exposing them to the chatroom crowd. Don't make enemies if you don't have to, but don't allow a wannabe to pull off the "super survivalist" routine either. One of your friends might be in his/her area and try to set up an agreement without realizing there is nothing of substance to work with. Once you're comfortable that the contact is a valid one, it should still proceed to the FTF as soon as possible. You have to know whom you're dealing with when it comes to mutual aid!

Recruiting via advertisements

This one is last on my list for obvious reasons. Advertising brings them out of the woodwork like nothing else, both the good and the bad. Worst of all, you need to leave a visible trail to do this kind of recruiting, since you're soliciting contact and have to have somewhere for that contact to occur (e-mail, PO Box, etc.) E-mail is not inviolable, a PO Box can be staked out by someone with a hidden agenda for making contact, and a phone number can be traced to your home quite easily in most circumstances. However, there are cases where the advertisement for new members is the best viable option. This method calls for extreme caution - lots of correspondence preceding the initial FTF, and several FTF's before any serious agreements can be made. You are dealing with a totally unknown quantity here - the person responding could be survivalist maximus or some 13-year-old with a serious case of boredom.

Another place to consider

In the late 1990s, many churches started considering the ramifications of Y2K - and this was the perfect opportunity for someone who was already Y2K-smart to step in and help get the congregation organized. I regularly sent information to my daughter, who in turn passed it out among her fellow churchgoers. With the added buying power of bulk ordering, getting your church to co-op food and supplies will save everyone time and money, and probably get your large order delivered in a more timely fashion. I must add here that my daughter was very surprised to find that several members of her church, including one of her sons' teachers, had already gone deep into preparations for Y2K - so don't be surprised to find out that some of those innocuous looking folks at the other end of the pew are actually closet survivalists!

Other things to consider when recruiting

For every hundred potential team members/associates you meet, you'll reject more than half of them immediately. If you find ten people you'd like to work with, you're doing very well. Some of the folks you meet will be first rate; personality clashes will eliminate a healthy portion of these. Keep in mind that survivalists tend to be loners... grouping is generally not a natural state and therefore you're going to meet a disproportionate number of people who just haven't learned to do the kind of compromising needed for a team effort. Before you get discouraged, remember that you probably didn't marry the first person you dated, and forming a survival team is a lot like marriage!
~ Warrior Woman