A few years ago, Amy Spurlock – who is single – decided she would do something to make more friends, so she formed a meetup group under the auspices of www.meetup.com.That group, Lake Norman Over 40 Singles, now boasts more than 1,600 members, and the singles blasts she periodically organizes and promotes usually attract more than 300.Single or not, from anime to Zumba, one can easily find meetup groups in Lake Norman and the greater Charlotte area to fit one’s interests. Wine or beer connoisseur? Think trivia games are terrific? Hyped over hiking, skiing, paddleboard, cycling, knitting, tennis or bowling?It’s easy to discover an empowering realm rich in activity choices, as well as potential friends, by visiting www.Meetup.com, entering your ZIP code and keywords that reflect your interests, and signing up (free in most cases). Meetup.com is an internationally used online service that, for years, has served as a conduit to face-to-face social and business connections and activities for millions. Each special-interest group is formed by a volunteer organizer – anyone with the initiative to establish it and organize periodic events and outings. David Koster of Mooresville runs two meetup groups: Hiking Around Charlotte and The Piedmont, which he took over as organizer in 2009; and a much newer group, Mooresville/LKN Get-up, Go & Give. The hiking group has more than 2,700 members, and a few, like Nancy Lopez, have stepped up to plan some of the many outings. Koster and his hiking helpers run two to eight experiences a month. “It’s important to offer a range of types of hikes – from easy, greenway or urban walks to outings that are up to 12 miles and feature strenuous and varied sections of the path,” Koster said.A group organizer like Koster must pay $144 in annual dues to meetup.com. To recoup that, Koster got sponsors. Others, like Mooresville resident Nate Mecha of Adventures After 40, ask participants for a small donation to help defray the costs. Sharon Decker, organizer for Over 0-100 Nature Lovers and Hikers, Etc., instituted an annual membership fee of $12. This reimburses her for the money she fronts for dues and event fees, like a pavilion rental. She donates what remains at the end of the year to a Charlotte-area charity on behalf of the group.Decker invites suggestions for activities in the Lake Norman area because several members live there. This meetup group has organized nature walks at Latta Plantation in Huntersville and Lake Norman State Park in Troutman, in addition to many parks within two hours drive.Decker, a professional event organizer, says, “It’s a lot of work and many hours, but I so enjoy this meetup. … It’s like one big family. Not only is this group fun, it’s a caring group.” Names of meetup groups are viewable online by anyone. Interested people then can join easily by completing a short profile, and partake or even help out by offering to lead or co-lead a particular event. Members receive email notices of planned activities.
Friday, Jan. 18, 2013
Meetup.com is conduit to friends, adventure
Groups set up for enthusiasts of all kinds
Hiking Around Charlotte and the Piedmont has more than 2,700 members. Organizer David Koster runs two to eight hikes monthly at different locations for a variety of skill levels. The group shown here is gathered for a hike at Lake Norman State Park in Troutman. COURTESY OF DAVID KOSTER
Want to go? • Lake Norman Over 40 Singles Meetup group 8-11 p.m. Jan. 25 promises a great night of food, music and mingling. Appetizers are included in the $5 entry fee. Cash only, taken at the door at Waterford Hall, which is the upstairs of the Galway Hooker restaurant, 17004 Kenton Drive in Cornelius. • Jan. 26 is a moderate hike led by David Koster at Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area at Hiddenite, northwest of Statesville. Learn about it and other planned events online at www.meetup.com/Hiking-Charlotte/.