What is the weirdest, most obscure national organization you know of
November 9, 2018 6:51 PM   Subscribe

that's better than "National Association of Parliamentarians"?

I'm looking for the weirdest, most obscure, interesting, national organization. Like young garden snake wranglers. Or ... collectors of miniature rainbow rubber bands. (Both of which I just made up.) The more bizarre, the better.

- national in scope
- low barrier to entry - so I can join this week
- I need proof that I've joined.

Why, yes, this is for a contest among debate coaches in my area. If any of you are reading, Hi, it's the Druid.
posted by Ms Vegetable to Grab Bag (34 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve always been partial to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, mostly because of the name.
posted by JaneEyre at 7:09 PM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Do you have, or have you ever had, luxuriant, flowing hair? Is your work science-adjacent (including engineering and social sciences)? Then may I introduce you to the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists and its sister organizations. All you need to apply is an email with photo, link to academic credentials, and a short bio statement. New entries appear here (latest was November 6th).
posted by Rhaomi at 7:19 PM on November 9, 2018 [36 favorites]

Best answer: The LFHCfS is tough to beat.

Meetings & Conventions magazine has an occasional feature on unusual organizations. However, I could only find one that really fit all of your requirements: The Association for Gravestone Studies.
posted by jedicus at 7:52 PM on November 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Assuming you have not "worked a minimum of one sled dog race as a veterinary professional" (which would entitle you to Voting Member status), you could become an Associate Member of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association for a mere $60.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:10 PM on November 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

International Guild of Knot Tyers:
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:22 PM on November 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention
The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor
The Organization for the Working Samoyed
National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
American Association of Candy Technologists
The Association for Dressings & Sauces

(Dues and membership requirements vary. I think they're all based in the USA, but I won't swear to it. I wanted to include the Association for the Preservation of the Coelacanth, but they're based in Comoros.)
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 8:25 PM on November 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

frustratingly, NATO is only open to people who own movie theaters. And the other NATO is only open to tobacco store owners. I had hoped you would be able to mail like $50 somewhere and claim status as a NATO member but alas it is not possible.

I found the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, a pro-vaping group which can be joined by individuals.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:50 PM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Society in Dedham for Apprehending Horse Thieves. Website's a little out of date, but if last year is any indication, you won't be accepted as a new member until their December AGM.

The International Wenches Guild. Lifetime membership comes in at a hefty $47. But they do have a 15% off sale right now, and you do get a bunch of goodies including a "License to Wench (suitable for framing)".
posted by Kabanos at 8:58 PM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Assuming you want real ones and not silly ones, I belong to some pretty obscure scientific societies but they usually make you pay to join. You get your money's worth though: many, many fabulous educational opportunities will come your way in the form of webinairs as well as usually a newsletter, some kind of journal access and maybe a hat or a shirt.

For example: Snail farmers

There is one for EVERYTHING.
posted by fshgrl at 9:03 PM on November 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

How about the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs? See if they have a branch near you.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 9:13 PM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Dozenal Society of America has been around since 1944 and wants everyone to convert to Base 12 counting.
posted by Paragon at 10:09 PM on November 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

Does it have to be based in America and does it have to have National in the title? The UK magazine Current Archaeology has a column called Oddsocs which looks at a different more-or-less niche organisation each time. You can see what the society was in each issue by looking at the contents list (from something like 2008 on - not sure when they started listing the detail).

You might be interested in
The Rectory Society
The National Piers Society
The Folly Fellowship
The Wallpaper History Society
List and Index Society (membership is only £5)
posted by paduasoy at 11:45 PM on November 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

The Cloud appreciation society
posted by chr at 12:38 AM on November 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by Ms Vegetable at 4:45 AM on November 10, 2018

Response by poster: It does not have to be based in America, it just needs to be national in scope, so preferably not something like "tea tasters of London". Paying to join is ok!
posted by Ms Vegetable at 4:48 AM on November 10, 2018

Best answer: The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society (UK) offers lifetime membership and a certificate to prove it - I’ve not investigated fully enough to work out whether they can send the certificate digitally.
posted by penguin pie at 5:40 AM on November 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

(Though you would have to pledge “to be nice to Telegraph poles and always speak highly of them as opportunity arises” so don’t take on that onerous responsibility unless you can commit to it!)
posted by penguin pie at 5:45 AM on November 10, 2018 [11 favorites]

Not nearly as weird as some of the above, but might serve your purpose: The Association of Old Crows, an organization for electronic-warfare specialists.
posted by cgs06 at 6:51 AM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm fond of VHEMT.
posted by roue at 7:14 AM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

American Gourd Society

Every year I think about getting Mr. Llama a membership for a Christmas gift. He sure loves motherfuckin' decorative gourd season.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:16 AM on November 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

For $20 AUS, you too can be a member of the Wombat Protection Society of Australia, working to "provide wombats immediate protection from harm, enhance the quality of life for individuals, or groups of wombats and to fund projects which develop or protect suitable habitat and/or sanctuaries for wombats."
posted by ChuraChura at 7:39 AM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

National Fish Carvers Guild
posted by Kabanos at 7:40 AM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

There is a National Association of Association Executives. Do the executives of the NAAE get to join the association???
posted by eulily at 8:31 AM on November 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

There's the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas and Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas (among others) and they don't always get along with each other.
posted by ShooBoo at 9:39 AM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I don't think this is particularly "weird" but it's interesting and national and I used to be a member (there's a subchapter just for full-timers). RVWomen
posted by MovableBookLady at 10:58 AM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Extra Milers club have the goal of visiting every county in every state.
posted by jessamyn at 11:03 AM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

The International Double Reed Society ($60) used to send a membership card, although I'm not sure if they still do.
posted by nicething at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

In addition to the aforementioned Santa groups there is AORBS: the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas.
posted by mmascolino at 6:59 PM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

For £21.10, (higher outside the UK), you can join the British Tarantula Society. “The aim of the British Tarantula Society is to promote and encourage the responsible husbandry, research, captive breeding, conservation and general knowledge of theraphosids, scorpions and associated fauna” Previously and previouslier on MeFi.

You might want to take a look at the Encyclopedia of Associations. "The most comprehensive source for detailed information on more than 24,000 nonprofit American membership organizations of national scope and multi-national scope. "
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:00 PM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

A.C.M.E — Association of Coffee Mill Enthusiasts. 200 members strong, they have a quarterly newsletter called the GRINDER FINDER.
posted by Kabanos at 10:52 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: These are all abso-fucking-lutely fantastic. I've now found presents for all these people in my life, life the wenches (my sister), the VHEMT (several debate coaches who have chosen not to reproduce), the LFHCfS (a particular friend), the dozenal society (seems like Mr. Meat), the ACME (my brother), if only his Norwegians were maternal and not fraternal (my BIL), but I think my favorite two for me are the Telegraph Society and the Association for Gravestone Studies. I've marked those two as best answer for no real reasons other than they spoke to me, the others are all favorites. (Well, I like to visit cemeteries when I travel to see famous peoples' graves, like Tchaikovksy, all the French scientists, Beethoven, etc, and the telegraph one made me go WTF THIS IS PERFECT). THANKS PEEPS!
posted by Ms Vegetable at 7:24 AM on November 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

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