Why should Preppers bother to think about such a topic? Because any situation severe enough to put us into “retreat” mode will almost certainly mean the Prepper group will be forced to rely on the personnel that belong to the group, and whatever skills they possess, for every facet of life. In normal times we have a host of businesses, specialists, and professionals eager to take care of our needs for us. Have a problem with your car; take it to the dealer or mechanic. Busy day leaves you no time to prepare dinner, no problem, just grab a pizza or take-out Chinese on the way home. If the furnace is leaving you cold, call the HVAC folks to repair it. But what options will you have after TSHTF?
Think about all the normal things needed to keep you and your family operational. Which of these can you do without? Which can you handle on your own? Which will you be out of luck with, possibly with lethal consequences?
I won’t attempt to list every possible skill that one might need in a crisis situation, but I do intend to hit the more critical ones, starting from the “hierarchy of needs” concept.
Food – Preppers, with few exceptions, have enough food on hand to last quite a while. But since no one can know how long the crisis situation will last, will that be enough? In case the crisis outlasts your stored food it’s a good idea to have the means to accumulate more. So you may want to have skills like farming, gardening, foraging, trapping, hunting, etc. As you acquire additional food you will probably also want canning, drying, and similar food storage skills. However, the most critical skill in this category is cooking for groups. Why? Because during normal times 1 person will handle the cooking duties for a traditional family while single people cook for themselves (when they aren’t eating out or take-out/delivery food). In a retreat environment you cannot afford to lose 3 – 9 hours per day per family or single person as they prepare and cook their food. Bear in mind that the types of food common as stored food take longer to prepare and cook than frozen pizza and similar packaged food items. A more efficient approach would be to designate 2 people to cook for the group, but for that to work these cooks need to know how to cook for groups, and how to keep a diverse group well fed and happy. By the same token a concept like “have it your way” won’t be an option, whether it’s modifications to the meals offered or alternate food preferences such as vegetarian or vegan. Your cooks won’t have time to customize food offerings, so folks will need to adapt. How many people will you need to grow, find, trap, or scrounge? That number will be determined by variables such as; how much food do you have to begin with, how many people in the group, what climate type, will you have equipment or will this be all manual, and how much competition will you have for the “wild” food items in your area?
Water – We cannot live without it, so producing and storing potable (safe for drinking/cooking) water will be a priority for most Preppers. If you’ll get your water from a good well there won’t be much work involved in supplying water to your group. If you need to test, change filters, add chemicals, check chemistry, etc. then you will find this to be at least a part-time job for one of your people. If you have irrigation or hydroponics needs then I would expect one person would have to be dedicated to water for your retreat. If you have to haul water from an outside source to your retreat you have a real problem.
Power – Will you need power? If yes, how will you produce it? If you can get by with solar or wind power then this won’t be a personnel issue for you. If you must rely on one or more generators this could end up being a full-time job for at least one of your people. Keeping the fuel tanks topped off, switching between generators or taking one offline for maintenance and doing maintenance can keep one or more (depending on how many generators you need running at any given time) of your people busy on a full-time basis.
Security – I’ve already addressed this in other articles, but you have to factor the personnel requirements into your overall plan or you will run short of people to do all the jobs that will need to be done. Guards, patrols, and operations, will all require people.
Heating – In cold areas it takes quite a bit of heat to keep people (to say nothing of toilets, water pipes, etc.) from freezing solid. For most Preppers in cold regions I’d guess that it won’t be possible to keep the retreat at shirt-sleeve temperatures, but you don’t want to have to wear a parka and gloves indoors either. So how will you keep your retreat at a temp that you can live at but still have enough fuel to get through the entire winter? If you use wood then you will need people to cut and stack wood over several months. With wood stoves and similar you’ll want someone to feed the fire(s) overnight and to also be your fireguard. Propane and heating oil would be less manpower intensive, but where will you get fuel for the following winter?
What other jobs will you need to have people for? Which will be occasional or part time and which will require one or more people on a full-time basis? Medical, automotive, veterinary, dental, construction, and others come to mind as needing to be planned for. Keep in mind that it would be a good idea to have some extra folks around to handle other things that come up.
So with all of the above, and whatever else you’ve come up with specific to your needs, will you have enough people to do everything that needs to be done?