For our ancestors, being exiled was one of the worst punishments that their group could dole out. Surviving alone in harsh conditions was usually a death sentence—a long, slow, painful death sentence. And whether it surprises you or not, nothing has changed about solo survival in thousands of years. You won’t last long if you’re alone. We seem to instinctively know this, just as our forebears did. It is for this reason that many people (naturally) band together to form groups or teams. These may start out as neighbors or family members having conversations about what they’d do in a crisis situation, but as the team relationship evolves—it will either become a more serious partnership or it will dissolve. One way to find out the devotion and mettle of everyone involved is to put your team to the test. Here are a few ways to do just that.

1. Go on a survival campout
A “bug out camp out” is just the thing to see how well your group gets along while working as a team to make camp and perform the chores of survival. If strenuous hiking is involved to get to your camp site (and it should be), this will also provide a gut check for each person’s fitness level. To enhance the trip, the team leader could plan some “surprises” along the way, a theme or scenario to define the camp out, and even place tests and challenges throughout the weekend—all designed to help the team bond, find weak points in the team, and strengthen them.

3. Have a “lights out” weekend
This test uncovers the group’s patience and ingenuity. Turn off the main electrical breaker and water at the host’s home. Have your team spend the weekend working through the challenges of “off-grid” living in a home designed to be “on-grid”. This is when things get real. You’ll have to haul buckets of water (from somewhere) to flush the toilet. You’ll have to get creative with cooking to feed the group. You can even consider home security issues during the weekend. One security angle could be that your group keeps a low profile, and the host’s neighbors don’t realize there’s unusual activity in the home. This weekend could be a scenario-driven event (like an EMP) or something more general, based on the concerns of the team.

3. Train together
Nothing strengthens a survival group like doing some survival training. At my survival school here in Virginia, I am seeing an increasing number of students taking classes as a group and even booking me for private classes just for their team. These classes are a great opportunity to pick up new skills, test oneself, and see how well the group functions (or doesn’t). Whatever training you take, invite your whole group to strengthen and diversify the skill sets of each member. Shooting classes, medical training, survival courses—every class you take as a team gives you more skills, more confidence and makes you better prepared to face the unknown. It also builds a stronger team.

What do you do to test yourself and your team? Please tell us your ideas by leaving a comment.