Earlier this year I was invited to visit a local model making club, for the purposes of this post, I will keep some of the details hidden not to embarrass anyone.
Having packed the car with a number of examples of my work and driven quite some distance, I arrived at the hall with time to spare and not sure how to proceed, I left all of the models in the car and walked in. There were a number of tables set up as either displays or bring-and-buy stalls and about twenty people milling about in small groups.
I strolled around the hall looking to see if there was anyone in charge.
I saw a small hand written sign on one of the tables - PLEASE PAY YOUR FEE HERE, So I did and placed my money in a bowl and added my name to the list of attendees.
I had now been in the hall for ten minutes and as others entered I had still not found anyone who looked to be in charge, so I made eye contact with some modellers browsed the displays and later sat next to a teenage boy who was also alone. We got chatting about his hobby and he told me that this was his second time at the club.
Fifteen minutes after I had arrived the numbers had grown to about thirty visitors and there was a definite feeling of many different groups all in small tight gangs.
I had still not spoken to or been approached by anyone other than the young boy.
I thought about leaving, but having driven so far and taken the time to attend, I thought I would try one more time to see if I could get anyone to speak to me. Fifteen minutes later - I couldn't.
So I left.
Will I be going back?
After this experience and having been invited to attend I know one thing for certain. I will not be going again.
I believe that I am quite an out-going character and do not think of myself as shy or retiring. In fact I would describe myself as the opposite, after all I regularly put on displays of my models at gaming and wargaming shows and in the past I actually ran a model making club. But in this environment I felt like an outsider and very much unwanted. This was the first time in some years that I had visited a club and the whole experience was quite depressing for a number of reasons.
Having been invited, I felt that I would have been acknowledged - I wasn't.
Modelling clubs have had years of poor publicity - I thought that they would have improved or learnt how to make new members feel welcome.
To survive, the lifeblood of clubs is to attract new members. To attract new member - well I think you get the picture.....
I just didn't feel welcome - I felt like an outsider.
I would be interested in your experiences.