Make Rules for Smooth Functioning of Your Prepper Retreat

A cabin or retreat in the mountains
This is not our retreat, but it has many similarities. Maintaining a retreat can be time consuming and expensive.

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how we expect another family, their adult children, my adult children, and their significant others to bug out and join us here in the mountains for any kind of serious disaster.

If you end up being the host family for other family members, friends, or fellow preppers that bug out to your place, you need to have some rules. You also need to think about the rules before everyone shows up. (Because: preparedness.)

Rules are necessary to prevent chaos, to establish a command structure, to identify responsibilities, and to ensure that everyone understands why they are there and what we seek to accomplish. Survival in a world without utilities and little or no chance of resupply will be difficult. Survival will be impossible if your prepper team is pulling in different directions, or stopping to argue or debate every decision or instruction.

Here’s how my rules stand today:

The First Rule: I am in Charge

If you believed in my knowledge, experience, and preparations enough to come here, then you damn well better respect me and my leadership. Besides, you are on my property, eating my food, and benefiting from my preps.

This does not mean I am a dictator. I will listen to reason, but not in the heat of battle. There will an Executive Committee to make decisions and recommendations. I will also assign various responsibilities to other people, largely based on their skills and abilities.

For example, it makes sense for the nurse to be in charge of the health of our team members. The medical team lead make recommendations to the Executive Committee and we approve or discuss and revise and then approve. That doesn’t mean the nurse won’t have to help butcher chickens or cooking meals, but it means if someone cuts themselves while butchering chickens or gets burned while cooking, the nurse gets to stop and address the issue while the rest of us keep working.

If you are a former infantryman who deployed twice, then you should probably be in charge of our self-defense force, but you won’t operate in a vacuum without oversight.

The Second Rule: Everybody Works

No one sits on their butt unless they are sick, wounded or very pregnant. Children will be given jobs as soon as they are old enough to walk, talk, and understand.

We will try to give everyone a rest day during the week and to observe Sundays as a day of rest, but this will depend on the work load, the season, and the weather.

There are going to be some specialized jobs and there are going to be some general labor jobs. All jobs are important and should be taken seriously. Where possible, we will match skills, desire and aptitude with assignments, but it will not always be possible.

Because of their skills or physical abilities, someone may work a specialized job that others cannot. This does not mean they never cook, never stand guard, or never do other boring or gross jobs, but it may mean they do so less often.

I have identified 13 teams, not counting the Executive Committee. They are:

  • Tactical/defense
  • Firewood
  • Meal prep
  • Cleaning
  • Quartermaster
  • Animal husbandry
  • Childcare (there is only one infant so far, but at least one more is likely)
  • Gardening/growing food indoors and out
  • Hunting/trapping
  • Wild food harvesting
  • Sewing and clothing recycling and repair
  • Medical
  • Building/Construction

I collated all the teams and all the people on a spreadsheet with preliminary assignments made and subject to future review based on who actually shows up. Besides the Executive Committee, I lead the quartermaster team, the animal husbandry team, and am one of two lieutenants on the tactical team. Everyone except three people leads at least one team. These three do not lead a team because of their age or lack of experience.

With permission from the Executive Committee, it is possible to change teams, join or leave a team, form new teams (either for a project or permanently), and to move up to a second in command or a team leader. People can also swap jobs on a day-to-day basis if both parties agree and the team leader approves the change. In no case shall the swap reduce the quality or timeliness of the work to be done.

The Third Rule: Everybody Fights and Everyone Stands Guard

Everyone old enough and able to competently use a weapon will train to fight and will staff the observation point and/or the base station as schedule, and may be part of an occasional patrol.

This does not mean everyone is on the front line, but it does mean you must be ready to grab a long gun and lay down fire if the enemy is coming over the hill. Only the injured, the sick and young children (and maybe the medic) should hide in the basement.

We will maintain a watch in our overwatch position, which will be in contact with the command center via field radio. We will run occasional patrols and scouting missions on a schedule determined by the tactical lead. This may include visits to check in on neighbors.

Unless granted permission to carry an alternative weapon by the tactical team lead, everyone on duty in the overwatch position will be armed with a scoped .308 rifle and a Mossberg 12-gauge for close-in protection.

We will maintain a quick response team (QRT) that will rush to staff our defensive positions if the person on guard duty sounds the alarm. They will also respond to any problems identified by a patrol. There will be a reserve unit that backs up the QRT and a home defense unit that stays put. The role of QRT and Reserve will switch back and forth between two teams. The tactical lead will determine team members and the schedule of duty.

All adults must carry a pistol and a minimum of two reloads at all times. When you put on your clothes, you put on your pistol. No one goes outdoors without a long gun and two magazines or 25 rounds for shotguns.

The Fourth Rule: We Will Uphold High Moral Standards

No stealing, cheating, thieving, fighting, murdering, or taking advantage of people. This applies primarily to intra-group behavior, but we must also uphold high standards when dealing with outsiders. (We’ll kill you if you threaten us, but we won’t cheat you if we make a deal.)

Hopefully, no explanation of this rule is necessary, but I will mention that taking supplies from the store room without permission is stealing. Sleeping with someone in another relationship is cheating.

When we deal with outsiders, we will be polite and treat and trade with them fairly until such time they prove they are unfriendly or untrustworthy. Then God help them because we surely won’t.

Punishment will start with being given the worst, yuckiest jobs and get worse from there.

The Fifth Rule: Drinking is Prohibited

There will be no consumption of alcoholic beverages or use of mind-altering drugs. We may make exceptions for medicinal purposes, as approved by the medical team lead, or for special celebrations, which the Executive Committee will approve in advance.

Distilling, brewing, and wine making are not permitted unless approved by the Executive Committee. Such approval will be granted only when we have sufficient supplies of feedstocks to feed all people and livestock and sufficient stores for the winter.

The Sixth Rule: We are a Team

It may well be us against them, so we must hang together or we will assuredly hang separately. We have to work together and we have to get along because our lives depend upon it. Make an effort. Control your anger. Swallow your pride. Don’t be mean or petty. If you need some time alone to let off steam, volunteer to staff the overwatch position or ask permission to go on a brief solo scouting exercise.

That’s all I have so far. Feel free to use or adopt some or all of them as your own. Ad teams based on your own circumstances and personnel. I am also open to suggestions and feedback. Just drop a comment below.