Clinging to being under 40 years old (by the slimmest of margins) and having hobbies where I interact with many 20- and 30-somethings (example: community theater), I often find myself explaining to people what my job is.

Being the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber is something I’m exceedingly proud of but it isn’t something many in my social circle are familiar with. I explain that I represent businesses in the Midcoast region by creating programming, supporting community events and initiating activities that increase networking opportunities and foster a sense of community.

Sometimes that means advocating for businesses on a regional or state level, and sometimes that means talking to tourists who are visiting or planning a visit. Sometimes that means helping groups strategically plan for their futures. Usually halfway through my second sentence I see their eyes glaze over, and too often I get called the vicious Bword … boring.

I know to some people that my perfectly accurate description of my job is appealing, but for many people hearing certain buzzwords actually hurts our appeal.

“Creating programming,” “initiating activities,” “advocating for businesses,” “networking opportunities” and “strategically plan for the future” are phrases that don’t bring vivid images to people.

When I said this to a friend, she said those words sound like “meetings, meetings, politics, events and meetings.” Partially, that is true, but it is so much more than that. Therefore in this week’s column I wanted to give you a list of real-world examples of how anti-boring chambers of commerce can be.

• Let’s start with our next big event, the second annual Shot in the Dark Glowball Golf Spectacular at Mere Creek Golf Course on Sept. 30. It begins with registration and a pre-tournament buffet around 6 p.m. Savvy players will arrive even a bit before that to get a look at the course before the sun goes down. At 7 p.m., 12-14 teams will be sent away from the clubhouse to tee-off in pitch black darkness at one of the holes. Each player receives two glow-in-the-dark golf balls, a glow-in-the-dark necklace (so other players can see you) and you go play golf on a course that is lit by glow sticks inside reflective

Styrofoam tubes. How much fun is that, you ask?

A ton of fun, which is why we only have six teams left to fill. If you want to register, contact the SMMC office at (207) 725-8797. Members of Mere Creek can call Kevin for information on the tournament. Registration for this unforgettable nine-hole event is only $50 per player, and $200 for a team of four, which includes your cart, greens fees, two glow balls, the necklace and the pre-tournament buffet — what a deal. Anyone who knows the costs for the balls and glow kits, knows we are not doing this event for profit. We just want to have some silly fun, and players that are crazy enough to join us know that too. It’s a relaxed, fun atmosphere and even if you stink at golf, it’s worth it for an unbelievably good time. Don’t miss out.

• Another example of fun is our Chamber After Hours. Here’s how this works: a business hosts a happy hour open house with food, drinks and door prizes and people get together once per month to laugh, catch up with friends and get an inside look at a local business. Do you want to meet more people? Do you have a business in the region? Then come out and make some friends. It’s that easy. Give us a business card, write out a name tag and meet dozens of people. Our next Chamber After Hours is at Buffalo Wild Wings in Topsham on Sept. 27 from 5-7 p.m.

• What about free lunch? Do you like free lunch? We get together once a month with a dozen people just to have lunch and unwind. The event is called 12 @ 12 and again it’s hosted at a local business. Each person gets five minutes to introduce themselves as we eat with each other and share stories.

• What about “strategically planning for the future,” that can’t be fun, right? Wrong. This is something we do with organizations three-to-four times per year, where we are asked to join together with their staff and supporters and discuss ways the organization can improve what they do. Many groups bring us in for an outside perspective. I attended one last week at Maine Maritime Museum where we discussed some out-of-the-box ideas as they strive to increase their guest count by 10,000. We discussed some mainstream ideas, but also we looked at a number of out-of -the box ideas including live concerts, costumed river cruises, haunted events, ship simulations, and a dozen other interactive ideas to engage families and humanize history. Nothing is finalized as the changes are in the very early stages, but most organizations are just like Maine Maritime Museum, where they are willing to change what they do to cater to the needs and wants of their visitors, and they just need to know what people want. If enough people like an idea, most organizations will give it a try.

• We also support and promote a lot of other events by partnering or just making people aware of fun happenings in our area. For instance, the Midcoast Edge, our chamber’s young professionals group, has a Newcomer’s Night they do at Flight Deck Brewing on the second Wednesday of every month. Are you new in town? Are you new at a company? Are you newly single? Or do you want to meet new people? That’s exactly what Newcomer’s Night is, for anyone who is new or wants to meet new people. It’s a happy hour event for anyone over 21 who wants to make some new connections.

I hope you will join us at any of these anti-boring events in the near future, and see for yourself just how fun building a strong community can be.



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