“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.
The lone wolf survivor. I can survive on my own. It’s just me and my gun.
We’ve heard some variation of these phrases in the comment sections of our blogs for years that when things go sideways, they’ll find a way to survive on their own. But in a prolonged SHTF scenario, surviving on your own will be almost impossible to do, especially over a long enough timeline. When push comes to shove, you’re going to need help. You can’t stay awake forever to secure your location and you can’t be everywhere at one time. This is where having a Mutual Assistance Group or MAG will come in handy to help you survive in the long-term.
In this blog, we’ll discuss what a MAG is, why it is important, and how you can start your own.
What is a Mutual Assistance Group?
A MAG or Mutual Assistance Group is defined as a group of like-minded individuals who agree to help and assist each other out during an emergency or crisis. It’s simply a group of preppers who pool their skills and resources together to make it easier for the members of the group to survive in times of disaster.
Though this is the usual definition given to MAG, I came across another definition on a blog article from a prepper known as Paranoid Prepper. For him, a MAG is composed of family, friends, and neighbors that he cares about. They’re basically people who you won’t turn away and leave to die should they show up at your door during a disaster or collapse.
He adds that he doesn’t necessarily tell them they are part of a MAG unless he is sure they can maintain operational security and not share their information with others. But regardless if they know or not, they are in. He does have a valid point since we do have people who are close to us and live nearby that it is likely they’ll show up at our doorstep should a disaster sets in.
When that time comes, can we turn them away and leave them to fend for themselves? This is why he includes them in his MAG, so he doesn’t have to make a tough choice when the time comes.
Why it’s Important to Have a MAG?
As we mentioned earlier, a MAG can help you survive in a prolonged collapse. It can provide support and assistance, making it easier to deal with the disaster. Let’s discuss in more detail the reasons how they can help during a disaster.
Expand the skills and knowledge available
One of the main benefits that a MAG provides is that it can expand the skillsets of the entire group. For example, there’s a doctor in your MAG group, which means he possesses the knowledge and skills related to medical and first aid. These are vital during a disaster since it might not be possible to go to a hospital if you’re injured or sick. Another example is if one member of the group is skilled in carpentry and plumbing. He can be the one to provide help when it comes to doing repair work or building things for the group. It’s impossible to learn and do everything yourself. So being part of a group that can provide different skills and knowledge will be very helpful during a disaster.
- Aside from having an expert on the group to take care of certain tasks or activities, prepping with other people can also expand your prepping knowledge and skill. MAGs normally conduct regular training and meetings, to discuss things and to check up each members’ preps. If you’re part of a MAG, you can also use this opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills in prepping to bolster your own efforts. For example, you’re having a hard time storing all of the supplies you will need in your home, you can ask the group what’s the best way to do it, or they can even show you how they do theirs and learn from it. You can also have the doctor in your group teach you and your team about the basics of first aid skills in treating minor injuries so you can do it yourself when a doctor is not immediately available.
Focus on a task or role
Another benefit of having a MAG is that you can focus your preparations more on a particular task or role. Members of MAGs are usually given a designated role or task that they can focus on when preparing for a disaster. This can be helpful since you don’t have to worry too much about other things, as other members of the group are tasked to handle it. For example, you’re part of the committee that is in charge of security and keeping the entire area safe. During a disaster, you just need to focus on your assigned task, as the other things like gathering food and water, and handling inventory, among others, are delegated to other members of the group.
Mental and emotional support
It’s not easy being a prepper, considering the many challenges that you would have to encounter. These challenges can take a mental and physical toll on anyone, so having a mental and emotional support group is a great help. A MAG can provide you with that since the members will know what you are going through and can help you out in any way that they can. You can easily talk to them about your challenges and even ask for assistance and advice when it comes to finding solutions. If you have a religious leader in your group or a mental health care professional, these members will provide a very valuable role in your community.
Easier to secure an area or neighborhood
Having a MAG will also make it easier for you and your group to secure your area or neighborhood, not only from the dangers of the disaster but also from other people who are looking to raid your stockpile of supplies. One of the things that preppers are always wary of during a SHTF scenario is the threat coming from other people, especially those who didn’t prepare for the disaster. Having a group behind you will make it easier to secure and protect a neighborhood from raiders who are looking to steal resources.
Questions to ask to see if you’re ready to be part of a MAG or start your own
Before we discuss how you can start your own MAG, here are some questions that you need to answer first to see if you are ready to be a member of a mutual assistance group.
- The first thing you need to ask is if you can work well with other people when things are stressful. Not everyone works well with others under extreme stress and pressure, which is what you’ll likely experience during a SHTF scenario. If you’re someone who is quick to unravel during stressful situations, you might not be ready yet to be part of a MAG.
- Another question you need to ask is if your immediate family members are okay in teaming up with other preppers. Building a MAG or joining one should be a family decision and not just your own since this will affect them as well. They might not be comfortable teaming up with others, so you need to talk to your family first before forming or joining a group.
- You also need to ask what skills and knowledge you can bring to the table. Each and every member of a MAG will need to make a contribution and provide value in order for the group to succeed. Your membership might also be questioned by the other members if they see that there’s really nothing you can contribute to the group. It’s a give and take membership, so you need to make sure you also have something to offer.
- You also need to ask yourself if you will be a good leader or follower when you join a MAG. Even if you’re not the one who started the group, you might be called upon to lead a committee, so good leadership skills are also needed. Similarly, you also need to be a good follower and will commit to the tasks that will be assigned to you. As mentioned earlier, the success of a MAG relies on every member making a contribution and providing value.
- Speaking of commitment, you also need to ask if you are willing to commit to attending the meetings and training that the group will set. MAGs set regular meetings and training sessions that members need to attend to provide updates, compare notes, and just check up on everyone. It’s important to commit to these meetings since this will let people know who are the members that can be relied upon when disaster strikes. You can’t expect the same commitment from people who don’t even attend meetings and training sessions when things are normal.
- The last question you need to ask is if you’ll stick with the group or evacuate in certain scenarios or situations. There’s really no point in starting a MAG or joining one if you don’t plan to stay for the long-term or evacuate when you get a chance. You will only waste your and other people’s time and effort.
If you answer no to any of these questions, then you might not be ready yet to start your own MAG or be part of one. You need to make sure that you are willing to participate and commit to the group in order for it to succeed. Remember, the other members will depend on you when the time comes, just like you will depend on them.
How to Build Your Own MAG
After learning what a MAG is and why it’s important to have one, it’s time to discuss how you can build your own Mutual Assistance Group.
Establish the Goal of the MAG
One of the first things you need to do when you are planning to build a mutual assistance group is to establish clear goals or objectives for the group to follow. This is important since the goal or objective will serve as the foundation that each member will need to follow and abide by to ensure the success of the group. Without this, people won’t even have an idea why the group exists in the first place.
What are the Rules and Regulations
After establishing what the group’s goals are, the next thing you need to do is to set the rules and regulations that will govern the MAG. Here are some things you need to consider when setting rules and regulations:
- Will the group be led by one person or a committee?
- Is leadership exclusive or will it rotate to other members as well?
- Are members required to provide a financial commitment?
- Is membership to the MAG exclusive to the Head of the Family only or immediate members are automatically members as well?
- What’s the process for recruiting new members?
- What are the requirements to be a member and how is the screening done?
- How many times are meetings and training conducted?
- What can cause a member to get booted from the group?
- Can the decision be appealed?
- Can they reapply back?
Recruiting New Members
Once the goal, rules and regulation of the MAG are created, the next step is to focus on recruiting people to be part of the group. There are also considerations that you need to know when selecting the people you want to be part of the group.
- The most obvious things you need to consider first is if the person you are recruiting is a prepper, or at least committed to becoming a prepper. There’s no point in recruiting skilled people if they’re not willing to prep with you for a disaster or emergency.
- You should also consider recruiting people who are more than willing to go out of their way to provide help and assistance to the group, especially in times of crisis. You basically need to get people who are willing and dedicated team members who will won’t bail out on the group when times become tough and stressful, especially during a disaster.
- When recruiting people, it’s best that you start out with the people that you are already comfortable with, family members who live in the area, close friends, and neighbors. It’s easier to work with people you are comfortable with, so it’s better to start with that.
- As I explained earlier, you are also likely to experience having close relatives, friends, and neighbors knocking at your door and asking for assistance during a SHTF scenario. If you can’t see yourself turning them away when this happens, you might as well include them in your group.
- It’s important to note that people who are close to you might not see the value of your preps, so it’s very likely you’ll just be doing the preps for them. If you plan on helping them out anyway, you might as well include them in the preparation plans.
- You should also be discreet as possible when you’re recruiting people. Those who don’t believe in what you’re doing will likely be the first ones to knock at your door asking for supplies during a disaster. So only mention the group to people you can trust to keep things quiet and discreet.
- Joining a community or regional groups is also a good way to recruit like-minded people to join your MAG.
- Consider also the types of skills and knowledge that the people you are recruiting possesses. You should see if what they know can provide value to the MAG you’re creating.
- This means recruiting medical professionals, farmers, plumbers, soldiers, teachers, and those who have experience living off the grid just to name a few.
- When you recruit people, remember to look at their personality, their character, and what they can bring to the group.
Establishing the Committees and Members
The last thing you need to do once you have members is to establish the different committees that will be in charge of certain tasks and activities. This is simple since you just need to look at the skills and knowledge they possess and then assign them to the appropriate committee.
- The major committees you need to include are the ones in charge of finding and producing food and water, security, managing the inventory and supply storage, medical assistance, and communication.
- Other committees that you can include are maintenance and repairs, education, training and coordination, and weapons and armory.
- Remember to conduct regular meetings and training, even before a SHTF scenario happens to make sure that each and every member of the MAG is always prepared and ready.
Establishing your own mutual assistance group is not easy and it will present many challenges. But it’s important to be part of one in order to survive a prolonged grid-down scenario. The success of a MAG will greatly depend on each and every member committing and dedicating themselves to the goals and objectives of the group and working together, especially during a collapse.
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