Building Tribe, II – Forward Observer Shop

Building Tribe, II

Part Two

We, as preppers, tend to let the potential future bad times take precedence over the good moments in our lives today. Sure, the government sucks, rule-of-law is gone, and Islamo-fascist jihadists are going to be setting off car bombs at the mall next week. That sucks. We all know it, but we need to be prepared to deal with it.

Here’s the catch. If you’re constantly fretting about it, it’s because you’re not prepared. You don’t have the skills to deal with it, and you know it. Otherwise, you’d take precautions, but you’d also continue living your life. Look at your friends and family, and figure out what you want to do together that doesn’t involve dressing up in camouflage and playing GI Joe. Then, go do that. Take your family and your best friend’s family to the water park, or out to the county fair. Do things together.

Tribes aren’t built at picnics or at weekly meetings. Tribes are forged during ‘the suck’. But the initial efforts are built by spending time together and getting to know one another under various circumstances.

Even if you do have a friend who is a prepper, do your wives get along? Have they spent social time together? Do they do things together as families, with the people you expect you will have to count on. Remember the old adage, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” If your wives don’t get along, it doesn’t matter how bad ass your buddy’s prepper gear is, that band isn’t going to survive tough times as a unit.

But What About the Guns and Gear Stuff?

Of course, we’d love it if we could convince our family and friends to be preppers, too… if we didn’t think we were going to have to outfit them with all the gear they needed, plus have to teach them how to use it.  If you know what you’re doing – really know – it doesn’t take that long to teach someone basic light-infantry skills, and lead them in a fight. No, they’re not going to do particularly well against a platoon of Rangers, but you’re not going to be fighting a platoon of Rangers. You’re going to be defending your homes and families against scared, hungry, probably haphazardly-organized people trying to survive themselves.

So, if you can’t get your best friend or your wife to go to the range, and finding a new best friend and a new wife are not options, then just quit worrying about it. Set aside some extra guns — you know you have them, anyway — and some extra ammunition. Next time you decide to upgrade your load-bearing equipment, don’t sell the old stuff on Craigslist. Just stuff it in a box somewhere, so you can hand it out to people later.

In the meantime, get your friends and family to do the training you can get them to do. Take a multi-family camping trip, and turn it into a learning and teaching opportunity. Teach everyone some basic land navigation and fire-building skills. Teach them how to use a knife or an ax. Teach the kids how to build improvised shelters (seriously…kids love that stuff!).

If your teenage kids are more interested in their iPods and texting their friends on their cellphones, let them sit around the campfire, listening to some awful music while everyone else is laughing and having a good time. They will come around and want to get involved.

Honestly, though, if your teenagers are that distant, it’s probably your fault. My kid is young still, but I’ve spent a lot of time around a lot of friends with teenagers. The only ones who are distant from their parents are the ones whose parents are poor parents that don’t express interest in what their kids are doing. Who cares if the music they like sucks, or if their favorite celebrity is an idiot with the IQ of a chipmunk on electroshock therapy. They’re your kids! Pay attention and treat them with respect. They will return the favor.

Be A Leader

Finally, as everyone who has read my writing before knew was coming: be a leader. Set the example that you want your friends and family to follow. If you want to convince them that need to be able to shoot then you better be doing your dry-fire practice and going to the range. If you want to convince them that they need to be able to camp and live out of a pack, you’d better be spending time living out of a pack.  Want them to set aside food storage? What’s your food storage look like?

If you’re perceived as being dishonest about prepping and being concerned, why should they be prepping and concerned? Oh, you’ve got food storage and guns, and you shoot at the range once a month? How’s your physical training? Are you setting an example, or are you just looking for a group so someone else can do the heavy lifting for you?

In ancient tribal cultures, leaders built loyalty through gift-giving. This was true of European peoples, Native American tribes, and everywhere else in the world. You can still do that today. It doesn’t have to wait until birthdays and holidays either. Gift your friends and family with preparedness-related items that will interest them. If you’ve got a friend that you want to go backpacking with, and he doesn’t have any gear, give him some of your old stuff that is still in good shape, or take him to REI and outfit him.


The process of developing a  tribe you can actually trust is not that complex. It can be difficult, but it need not be. We know how to make friends. We’ve all had a best friend at some point in our life. Simply remember how that was done and go from there. Quit looking for some magic talisman in the form of a prepper group of strangers, and hope you can build the level of loyalty needed.

John Mosby is a former U.S. Army Special Operations soldier. He lives somewhere in the mountains.


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