In Numbers chapters 1-5, we see how God organized the Israelite camp so the Tent of Meeting was at the center of the camp. God's presence was visible to the Israelites in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Numbers 9:18 & 22 say:
18 At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped.
22 Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out.
That is just so awesome – who needs a GPS when you have God literally leading every move.
When God moved – the people moved.
When God was still. God's people were still.
It was as simple and as hard as that! God did not ask the leaders if they were ready nor could they predict when God would move. Most likely, the priests and Levites assigned people to keep watch day and night so they would know when the pillar was moving.