Finding the Right Club to Join
by Tracy E. Hill, Ph.D.
With so many clubs and groups on Facebook and Meetup, as well as hundreds of ski clubs, sail clubs, knitting clubs, and so many more groups of people sharing common interests spread all across the country (and not online), how do you decide which one to join?
I happened upon Schuss Le Monde through one of its members, Eva Paprocki, after meeting her through an Airbnb experience. As two professional, Silver Sage women, we hit it off with our mutual love of the outdoors, quick wit, and skiing. Eva encouraged me to join Schuss Le Monde because they organize trips that combined skiing and travel, not to mention all the great food and wine.
Two international trips were offered. One was to Banff, Alberta, in Canada, which I had never been to and heard was a “must ski” destination, and one to Les Trois Vallées (Three Valleys), in the French Alps. I couldn’t resist the call of the Alps. I joined the club and signed up for my first ski trip to France. But my inner, fearful, parenthetical thought was, “Will this be like all the other groups I’ve joined?”
Traveling overseas during the height of a pandemic wasn’t easy. Moving goal posts for vaccinations and testing was beyond stressful. Not to mention all the gear you have to pack for a ski trip. Yet, Schuss Le Monde leaders Pam Golde and Charles Rubano handled the stress and complications with a professional demeanor, employing the grace and guidance needed to move twenty-eight adults smoothly from JFK International to Geneva, Switzerland, and then by coach to the French Alps. I had a great time!
I’ve tried many Meetup groups: Free Spanish Speaking Drills, Windward Sailing Club, Lehigh Valley Salsa Social, the Greater Valley Dance Network, Lehigh Valley Fun with Friends, Lehigh Valley Ski & Snowboard Group, L.L. Bean Center Valley Outing and Adventure Club, Main Line Writers, Chester County Motorcycle Riders Group, and Valley to Summit Adventures. My general interests lie in dancing, outdoor activities, and Spanish. Sadly, most of the Meetups I’ve tried only once, never to return. My experience has not been great. With several of the clubs, I met at a prearranged location only to discover I didn’t know a soul (and they weren’t that friendly in getting to know me), had no clue who belonged to the Meetup, or only one other lone soldier showed up. I joined the Writers group first but now live far away, making membership unsustainable. In fact, the only club I still belong to and am active in is the motorcycle club. With COVID, however, even that has done little over the past twenty-four months.
Facebook has interesting groups. I belong to several there, including my hometown group, a couple of psychology/clinicians clubs, a truck club, a group for women who ski, and another for women who have silver hair, as well as a few groups that are related to product research for one of my companies. But Facebook groups, for the most part, are more about information exchange, not necessarily about getting together. I want to actually connect with others, not simply peruse their posts. Nevertheless, I have to say that some of my professional groups are excellent for trading information, learning and education.
Another source for clubs is Nextdoor.com. This site helps you connect directly with your neighbors and can be a great source for local information that is happening in your neighborhood or small-town area. I belong to two—one where my business is located and one where my home is located. Both are directed to the whole town, though, not just the few blocks surrounding my building or home. And again, these clubs are for information. They are not for connecting and meeting others. Posts regularly discuss strange cars in the area, issues with trash pickup, and suspicious-looking activities to be aware of.
So where do you meet other like-minded individuals? Where can you find others who enjoy the same type of activities and interests as you? Talk to your friends, talk to your clients or colleagues, and ask around. Word of mouth may still be the best way to find others who like digging for mushrooms, planting special herbs, or any of the other diverse interests that someone like you may have!
Photo credit by author.