Finding Friends to Enjoy the Joys of Summer

Hiking through thick woods and setting up camp in the twilight is all worth it when the stars come out and dot the night sky. Kicking a soccer ball past the fingertips of the goalie makes your racing heart beat even faster. Zipping across a peaceful Michigan lake in a kayak for the first time calms the soul. All you need now is a group of like-minded individuals to share the adventure with. Both traditional organizations and Internet groups provide that opportunity.

Metro Detroit Athletes (MDA)

Founded 2009 in Royal Oak, MI

Mission: “The goal of MDA is to get people off the couch, outside playing sports, making friends and enjoying life,” states Jim Stange, Founder and Organizer for MDA. “Even if you’re just starting out, there is a place for you here.”

Membership: Officially 1,300 members in southeast Michigan with 300-400 active members. Mostly post-college age, the core group ranges in age from their mid 20s to late 30s.

Activities: They cover all the popular sports, including volleyball, tennis, softball, and soccer, as well as less popular, such as bocce ball, curling and parkour. In the warmer months members will promote weekly meet-ups of many sports, such as sand volleyball. Socializing and making new friends is always an element with MDA.

Dues: $12.00 one time donation

School for Outdoor Leadership, Adventure and Recreation (SOLAR)

Founded 1976 in Southeast Michigan

Mission: “To promote and advance interest in the outdoors through information and participation in activities related to the S.O.L.A.R. program.”

Membership: Steady at 400 members with about 75% being active. General membership meetings attract more than 100 members monthly and the majority of active members are in their 40s and 50s.

Activities: Leadership training and education sets this group apart from the others. “Club members not only lead trips and coordinate activities, but also volunteer time to teach classes on outdoor activities to other members.” States Chuck Smith, SOLAR president, “including backpacking, mountain biking, tree identification, car camping, kayaking, adventure racing, and mountain climbing.”

Dues: $40.00 annually, $175.00 lifetime

Michigan Adventurers Club (MAC)

Founded 2007 in Farmington, MI

Mission: “Meet with local outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the wonderful state of Michigan!”

Membership: Originally organized to attract those in their 20s and 30s, members are all ages with a youthful spirit. MAC is one of the largest groups of its kind on with over 2,600 members.

Activities: Camping, hiking, canoeing, yoga, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and skating are just a few of the adventures this group seeks out. They also hold meet ‘n greets and volunteer with area fundraising efforts.

Dues: $10.00 annually

Michigan Council of Hostelling International (HIUSA)

Formally, American Youth Hostels (AYH)

Founded 1946 in Detroit, MI

Mission: “To help people of all ages gain a greater understanding of the world, locally and internationally, through educational programs, cultural connections, recreational activities and positive hostelling experiences.”

Membership: The Michigan membership is 1,500 with over 30,000 in the USA. College age members join to travel and use the hostel network of low-cost accommodations and others join to socialize in the out-of-doors. All ages are welcome with many active members in their 50s and 60s.

Activities: Walking tours, hiking, biking, and paddling events are offered throughout the year, as well as educational programming. World Travel 101 and Tips for Women Travelling Solo are two of their signature classes.

Dues: $28.00 annually, $18.00 for seniors, and $250.00 lifetime

Michigan Camping, Hiking, and Outdoor Meetup (MICHOM)

Founded 2010 in Novi, MI

Mission: “A group of people aged 20 to 39 that love to get outdoors, socialize and just have fun.”

Membership: With nearly 700 members, Juliana Mitchell, Organizer for the group offers “This is a smaller, more intimate group that grew out of the Michigan Adventurers Club. Members can get to know each other and develop friendships.”

Activities: Anything outdoors including hiking, biking and camping.

Dues: $5.00 annually

Personal Note: While I belong to each group listed above, those interested in joining a group should attend a meeting or activity before joining. Each group offers different dynamics and many people join more than one to have a variety. Search “past meetups” or view their online “calendar” to get a feel of what they do and how often. Most activities take place in southeast Michigan. However, travel may be planned around the state or outside of Michigan for some events.

Michael Dwyer is a freelance writer and travel columnist. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

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