Social club fills active Austin residents' schedules
Jamie Brierton has been busy since she became the owner of 350-member social club Hill Country Outdoors in February.
HCO's monthly calendar is peppered with events ranging from hiking trips, pool parties and outdoor concerts to whitewater kayaking and overseas journeys.
With help from 30 event leaders—members who lead activities in exchange for having their $24.95 monthly fee waived—Brierton coordinates events for locals with busy schedules so they can simply choose activities that pique their interest.
HCO's previous owner was its founder, Bill Talbot. With two children and a business of his own to operate, he had been considering selling HCO, Brierton said.
At the same time, she was seeking a side business to round out her career as a project manager for construction jobs, so she contacted a broker.
"It was serendipitous," she said. "Finally, it clicked where we were both ready to go."
While Brierton noted HCO is not a dating or singles club and some members are married couples, many members are single and divorced.
"If you're new to town or back on the market and you don't know where to go, this is the place for you," she said.
Southwest Austin resident Danae Kozelsky said she joined after her divorce in an effort to meet people, get exercise and try something new.
"This club is very welcoming, even for those who are shy and reserved," she said. "The variety drew me to it. I love the diversity of choices."
HCO has major competition from free online meet-up clubs. However, as Kozelsky put it: "Some of the other groups are very categorized—running, biking, happy hour—and at Hill Country Outdoors, we do it all."
Brierton uses group discounts for events such as zip line excursions and ski trips. HCO has ventured to China, Costa Rica and Galapagos Islands.
"You have to pay to attend those, but it's cool because it's planned for you," Kozelsky said.
- Aug. 27 — Monthly new member meeting
- Aug. 31 — Longview Park, Stephenson Perserve, Easy hiking
- Sept. 1–2 — San Marcos River, Whitewater kayaking class
- Sept. 9 — Bob Wentz Park/Lake Travis, Beginner windsurfing class
- Sept. 16 — Maui, Hawaii, 42nd annual Maui Marathon and Half-Marathon
- Sept. 18–25 — Paris, France, Walking tours and a visit to the Louvre
- Sept. 22 — Emerald Point Marina, Party Barge V—Summer Revenge
- Sept. 27 — Munich, Germany, Munich Beer Festival
- Oct. 13 — Fredricksburg, Texas, Climbing Enchanted Rock, all skill levels
- Oct. 20 — Sweet Berry Farms maze, Navigate a 4-acre, Texas-shaped maze and find markers within the maze
Source: Hill Country Outdoors