Firstly, I'd like to apologize for my extended absence. Unfortunately, due to work demands and my lack of regular computer access I have not been able to post, until now. I have recently acquired semi-regular access to a laptop. I hope that this will lead to my being able to post once again.
Enough of that, there is work to be done. Just this morning, with my finger on the keyboard for the first time in months, I took a look around American Preppers to see what was being posted and see if any changes had been made. I was happy to see that all changes have made the experience even better, and the information even easier to access. While browsing, I came across a post on the WV page that really caught my eye.It was the one on the formation and joining of groups. After reading it I immediately began thinking of a post of my own. Brother nitewalker did a nice job of showing what takes place in a group and how to go about making one successful, but he left a gap in the pros and cons area.
I know no single person can cover all areas of any topic, so I thought it wouldn't hurt for another to contribute and help a fellow prepper. I hope that this is taken as an ease in the workload and not as the stepping on of toes.
While I have done little on the scene of the network, I have had some experience behind it. I first joined up with a small group out of Virginia when I was still in the early stages of becoming a full-blown prepper and not just another curious body walking around. This group did offer myself and others a plethora of information, but lacked the overall organization to be successful. The sense of disunity could be felt from the beginning, but I was hungry for the information and the skills I saw demonstrated before me, so I stayed. I admit that I learned a great deal about woodsman ship, food storage, and general prepping, but the constant bickering among the members left me feeling uneasy about the community as a whole. This is the main downside to a group, a bad group at least.
If the group is lacking in unity, one can be left with a feeling that the information you gain is not worth the headache and lack of trust you also develop from the experience. It can leave you wondering if it is even worth it. Thankfully, I left before the group truly fell and began to turn against each other in ways describable only as childish and damaging to the cause. All that got accomplished in the end was that they managed to instill a negative image on a community that already has enough PR problems from groups who have the wrong idea about preparedness.
After what I went through with the first group I did not wish to join up with another. It just felt like I could do more on my own. I had manged to pick up what I thought would be enough skills to get my own start and maintain myself and my family without outside help. As it turns out I was wrong, but being young and stubborn, I tried anyway.
A short time after trying things on my own I accidentally stumbled upon another group (quite literally, too) My initial reaction was simply "Oh jeez, not again", but after one day with the people I met I decided to give it one more try. What I found astonished me. The people were happy with each other, welcomed me like a long lost friend, and seemed to genuinely want to help me out of the rut my youthful "optimism" got me into. (Often I wished I hadn't left home, but such is life. Haha) I have to admit that in just a couple short months a learned more than I could have imagined, made friendships that I hope will last a life time, and bettered my situation tenfold.
A group that is run like a family, not a clan, can make all the difference in the world. Be you a nineteen year old kid, or a sixty year old man (or so my eldest "family member" has made a point of drilling into my head.) a helping hand is sometimes all it takes to make you better. I like to believe that is true. Yes, the work we do together is hard, but after it is accomplished we all feel like we have learned a great deal, and like we can do whatever needs to be done, together.
I guess the over all idea of all this is simple. There are bad groups out there, but there are good ones too. You just need to be careful and be willing to do what it takes to find one, or start a small one yourself. As our own group philosophy goes, if it feels like family and acts like family, then it is family. And families can survive anything if they stick together. I hope that some find this post helpful. To all my Brothers and Sisters, thanks for all your help, and thanks for making me feel like it can be done. Shatai.