This is the second part of a series on coordinating a bug-out action among a group of people who hope to all travel together to a retreat location.
If you arrived here direct from another link or search engine, you might wish to start reading at the first article (‘The Group Dynamic‘) and then work your way in sequence through the rest of the series.
Making a Bug-Out Decision
Clearly, the first part of any group bugging out event is making the decision to do so. That is easy when it is just you and your spouse/partner, but the more additional people you add to your group, the more complicated it can become.
You might think that the need to bug-out will be obvious and impossible to argue about, but we are certain that will not be what happens when the S truly does, for real, hit the F. Even the most severe of scenarios – let’s say a solar storm wipes out the nation’s power grid – will still see a range of opinions about what to do and (perhaps more importantly) when to do it.
Most future problems are as likely to be of an insidious ‘creeping evil’ nature rather than a sudden catastrophic event. And even the sudden catastrophic events have ambiguity within them – the uncertainty of whether it will prove to be only a Level 1 situation (that you can survive while staying in place) or get more severe and become a Level 2/3 situation (which you need to respond to by bugging out to your retreat).
To look at an extreme event example which you might think is obviously a Level 2+ event requiring a fast bug-out, let’s think about what would happen if the nation’s power grid is wiped out. Most significantly, there won’t be any public announcement to that effect. Why not? For the simple reason that all mass forms of communication will have been destroyed or at the very least, made inoperable due to the lack of power to studios, data lines to their transmitters, and to the transmitters themselves. Let’s not forget, also, that the radios and television sets in people’s homes will be without power, too.
All you are likely to know is that you and everyone you know has lost power, and once you get your generator up and running, you’ll see that nearly all the radio stations are either off the air or else are full of empty-headed speculation about what is happening and ‘live updates’ that substitute an endless flow of realtime nonsense for the actual valid meaningful data you desperately need. As for tv, you probably have cable, and that will definitely be down, as will the internet, and very quickly, your cell phones will go offline, too.
You will have no way of knowing if the power will be out for an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year or a decade. You don’t know if it is just out in your city, or in the county, the state, the region, or the nation. Such reports as may filter through to you will start off being optimistic – we’ve all had experiences of major regional power outages, and being without power for a day or two or three or even four, and that has hardly been the end of the world, and all the officials will be talking positively about ‘crews working around the clock’ to get power restored, the same as is always promised.
So for the first day or two, there will be more annoyance than concern at the delays in getting power back – no-one will guess, at this stage, that it will take some years for new replacement transformers to be built in China and shipped to the US.
At what point will you decide that ‘enough is enough’ and it is time to get out of Dodge? Will it be before or after law and order starts to break down? Will it be before or after it becomes no longer safe to be on the streets?
Your Group Will Disagree on When to Bug Out
So, no matter what the circumstance, when you and your group members discuss the event, some will be optimistic and want to wait a few days to see what happens, others will want to bug-out instantly. An unspoken undertone to the discussion will also be the group members who have other friends/relations/immediate family members who do not belong to your community group, and who they would now have to leave behind (and are reluctant to do so). You should expect lots of misgivings and second thoughts when all of a sudden, a distant unlikely seeming possibility (the need to bug-out at some future time) becomes a sudden and unavoidable ugly reality.
How do you all reach a compromise decision?
If you are all traveling in your own vehicles in a convoy, you could simply agree to disagree and maybe go in two or three waves. The ‘right now’ wave, the tomorrow wave, and the ‘in a few days time’ wave. That might seem to be a simple solution, but think about what just happened. You’ve disrupted and destroyed the entire concept of a group movement. So much for all your previous planning and coordination, and so much for your convoy structure and collective security during your bug-out journey.
And that is the ‘best case’ scenario. If you’re sharing a vehicle with another couple, how does that work? And if everyone is sharing a bus, which is an ‘all or nothing’ concept, then you need to have some way of making an official determination.
There’s nothing magic to this. You agree in advance what the requirement will be for deciding what to do. Maybe you have a ‘bug out committee’ of two or three people who decide on behalf of the group. Maybe you have a group vote – in which case you need to decide what percentage of the vote is needed for the decision to be implemented.
There’s an interesting thing about deciding what percentage is needed – if you make it anything other than a simple 50% majority decision, then you’re biasing the decision in favor of either the pro or anti bugging out faction. If you say ‘two thirds majority needed to approve a bug-out’ you’ve allowed a smaller one-third group dictate to the other two-thirds. When it comes to bugging out, the two outcomes are both equally much a commitment – there are upsides and downsides to either staying or going, and so we’d recommend you allow a simple majority to pass the vote, or else let a special bug-out committee decide for the entire group.
One related question – will the vote be of all group members, or only of those who can be contacted in a timely manner? Our suggestion is that if people can’t be contacted after trying all agreed methods of communication, then their vote does not count – not only because they probably won’t be bugging out with you because they can’t be reached, but also because that is again unfairly biasing the vote in favor of not bugging out. In other words, if you have 25 people in your group and a requirement for a 50% vote to decide to bug out, then if you can only contact 15 people, your 50% is calculated on the basis of half of 15 (ie 7.5) rather than half of 25 (ie 12.5).
The Obligation of Group Members to Support the Group
One thing to consider when setting these ground rules. Make it a part of the eligibility process to join your group – members must have a willingness and commitment to bug-out early and to bug out fast, and be willing to accept that when the group makes the decision to bug out, they either join in or become responsible for making their own way to the retreat subsequently.
Similarly, whatever the rules and timings are for meeting at the rendezvous point, when the point comes for the convoy or coach or whatever to depart, it will depart at that time, no matter who is not yet present or why.
Lastly on this point, members need to realize that if your group is traveling as a convoy, each couple/family in their own vehicle, there is still a strong obligation on all members to participate, because the whole concept of a convoy is safety in numbers and division/allocation of duties. Each car and its people that doesn’t participate as agreed weakens the convoy as a whole, and whatever those people’s assigned duties were now need to be reassigned, on the fly, to someone else.
So people need to realize that if they wish to be part of the group community, they agree to join a group bug out event, even if they are not fully persuaded of the need to do so. If they don’t, it becomes a loose-loose situation for everyone. The main group convoy is weakened and the earlier assigned organization and duties of people in the group need to be re-worked on the fly, and the non-participating group members also have a much riskier bugging out experience if/when they subsequently decide to make their own way, alone, to the retreat.
We’ll let you decide how you arrange things to encourage everyone to participate together.
This is the second part of a six-part series about bugging out as a group. Please now read on through the other parts of this series.
Part 1 – The Group Dynamic
Part 2 – Initiating a Bug-Out
Part 3 – Communicating the Bug-Out Decision
Part 4 – Managing the Bug-Out
(The final two parts will be released in the following days, please come back to read it, and consider getting our site updates sent to you via RSS or email or Twitter (choose your preferred method from the box near the top right of this page headed ‘Get Free Updates’).
Part 5 – A Policy on Uninvited Guests
Part 6 – Traveling in Convoy