What makes a great club?
When first joining a new organization there is a period of time that every new member spends trying to find their place in the group. Who's who, and where do I fit in? With some groups, there is a feeling that you have to earn your way into that inner circle. It's like moving into a small town. No matter what you do, you are never truly a local. Some groups are different...
As far as clubs and social groups go, there are a lot of organizations out there that you can get involved in. Having been involved in a few of these groups myself, I have learned that chemistry and culture are everything when new members are trying to "fit in". When my wife and I joined the Eastern Shore Jeep Association, it was immediately apparent what kind of group this is.
I can remember pulling up to the ESJA Land in Delmar, DE and waiting in line to sign in and pay our fee. We were nervous about taking our Jeep on the trails and about doing the right things. Todd McHenry was there at the gate to make sure we were in 4WD Low and to reassure us that we would be okay. We followed Doug Thompson, crawling down the stock trail and back to the campsite and found a place to park, apart from everyone else. We were still nervous.
Before the wheeling could begin, a drivers meeting was held. Todd and Doug spoke. They introduced the "trail bosses" and went over some safety rules like following distance, how to communicate "I'M STUCK!" and seat belts always! My wife and I wanted to take it easy having never taken our Wrangler off roading yet. So, we decided to stick with the stock Jeep trails for now. Our trail boss that day was Mark Copperchopper who has a great personality and very cool V8 Wrangler.
We gathered with about a dozen other Jeeps and then we were off. Let me tell you, WE HAD A FREAKING BLAST. We only rode the trails once that day, but it was all we needed. Don't get me wrong, the trail was great and we were able to get plenty muddy. But, once we got back to the campsite we got caught up in meeting all of the Jeeples of ESJA.
We played bag toss, had some of Christine's cup cakes, talked to Crystal who takes some of the best photos you could imagine, and generally mingled around a bit. I met Vinnie, and we just jived (the guy is pretty funny). Everyone that I have met in the Eastern Shore Jeep Association has a great personality and has welcomed us warmly.
The beautiful thing about this club is that it is not all about mudding and pushing the limits of our Jeeps, but we are a family. We gather for Memorial Day barbecues, weekend surf fishing, parades, rally to support good causes, and so much more. The ESJA is a club for Jeep owners, but firstly it is a group of people who enjoy each others company, like to have a good time, and are just the right amount of crazy.
The Eastern Shore Jeep Association strongly wants to preserve this culture, but it is ready to grow and want to welcome new members to our family. We invite you to join us for our next Open Wheel Day. If you have as much fun as my wife and I did, and if you decide that you feel the same way about the people of the ESJA as we do, I would encourage you to join us.
Thank you so much for reading!