If you are a Jeep lover and you’ve ever driven anywhere around Central Texas, you have probably seen an Austin Jeep People badge on a Jeep.
Actually you’ve probably seen quite a few. Heck, you may have seen one just driving your Jeep anywhere in the country.
The reason for this is simple.
Austin Jeep People is by far the largest Jeep group in the Austin area. Approaching 4000 members, there is no Jeep group in the area that has as many active members.
These jeepers, myself included, are rabidly passionate people about Jeeps, the Jeep life, the Jeep community and the Central Texas area.
Though I personally travel around the United States full time, I do consider Austin, Texas home. It is where my vehicles are registered, where I’m registered to vote, where our doctors are, and ultimately where I pay taxes.
We were traveling when I bought my Jeep Rubicon “GUARDIAN,” and I began to do research about Jeep clubs and groups in my hometown. After finding Austin Jeep People and connecting with them online I couldn’t wait to get “home” and become an active member.
Austin Jeep People: First Impressions
Because I was on the road and didn’t have the ability to go to the ridiculous amount of meet ups that Austin Jeep People facilitates, the only place I could connect with them was their Facebook group.
Not going to lie, I was jealous. I felt like I was missing out. But I knew the time would come soon when I could connect with all my new Facebook friends that I had started to make from the group.
I was excited to meet them because as a new Jeep owner, I’d never wheeled before. I was chomping at the bit and each month that passed by, I saw that Austin Jeep People had a “newbie run” scheduled at the end of every month at Hidden Falls Adventure Park. You know, for people new to the Jeep life like me.
For obvious (and selfish) reasons I kept my eye open for the first newbie run I’d be able to attend as soon as I arrived. This kept my eyes glued to the group.
However, as I cyber stalked Austin Jeep People and watched the posts and comments in the group, I started to see something more. I saw that they were a helpful group. Ok, that is an understatement. A beyond helpful group.
One time stands out in my mind specifically.
There was a female member of the group who wasn’t even in her Jeep at the time but had some mechanical problems with her vehicle as she was dropping kids off at school. She asked for help on the Austin Jeep People Facebook group. Literally within minutes 5 different Jeeps representing 5 members of Austin Jeep People showed up to help her.
I thought to myself, if that were my wife, I’d really like for folks to respond like that. I was impressed. Who needs AAA? Ok.. I digress..
For the record, keep your AAA membership. But wow, that was an awesome display of the generally helpful attitude of the group at large.
Austin Jeep People: First Encounter
We arrived home in Austin at the end of July 2016. The first event I was able to attend was a Drive-In Movie night.
I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that we were meeting in a huge parking lot at Cabela’s and we were caravanning down to New Braunfels to watch a movie with a bunch of folks.
The event was awesome, well planned, and organized. Just seeing all the Jeeps (and more importantly being one of them ourselves) driving down I-35 to New Braunfels was really cool. There must have been at least 30 of us.
We parked side by side, talked Jeeps, got to know one another, and immediately we felt welcomed by the group. Our Jeep Rubicon was stock at the time and yet nobody made us feel like we were any less a part of the group. This was encouraging because we were still just getting our feet wet.
Some groups tend to alienate those who don’t have 6 inch lifts and massive tires. I’ve never felt this from the folks at Austin Jeep People and for that, I’m thankful.
Austin Jeep People: Origins
Like any group that has this many members, Austin Jeep People has been through a lot of changes over the years.
It was founded in February of 2013 by a group of Jeep enthusiasts simply as a way for them to meet up and share their love of the Jeep culture.
Because it has grown so large over the past nearly 4 years, the administrative roles changed and expanded. There is no one person that is “in charge” of Austin Jeep People. But there are leaders who facilitate the group activities and manage events.
The leaders and admins have a tough job. And it is often a thankless one. They are all volunteers, nobody is getting paid for the management of this group.
Besides, it isn’t easy wrangling jeepers. It is kind of like herding cats in some ways. Every jeeper is unique, everyone has their own thoughts on Jeep life and Jeep culture and honestly that is ok. The leaders and admins, as far as I’ve seen, do their best. But the reality is with a group this size, you simply aren’t going to please everyone all of the time.
Smaller groups in the area that are growing, if they continue to grow, will eventually feel the challenges that those running a large group face. Bottom line, not every group is for everyone and that is ok. If you aren’t a fan of Austin Jeep People and just came to troll, let me tell you something. This group has been kind and welcoming to me since day one. For this I’m thankful and am proud to be a member.
Not everyone is a fan of every Jeep club or group and that is ok.
There are multiple Jeep groups to choose from in the Austin area. Two others besides Austin Jeep People that I’m personally a part of include DarkSide Jeepers and Austin Veterans Jeep Club. You can read about those in the hyperlinks I just provided. Truth is that I like all three of my groups for different reasons.
But at the end of the day, no other group can boast the strength of numbers (and as a result activities) that Austin Jeep People has. Don’t even bother trying to argue that point. It is simply a fact.
Austin Jeep People: Purpose
The purpose of Austin Jeep People has not changed since its inception.
Austin Jeep People’s purpose is: “To provide a way for Austin area jeepers to meet up and share their love of Jeep culture.”
All members are welcome to participate in any created events, sponsored meet ups and wheeling adventures.
Because of the membership of Austin Jeep People it is not unusual to see 2-3 events per week! So if you really want to participate in the activities there are plenty to choose from.
One of the things I really like about Austin Jeep People is that any member can create an event in the group. This is actually encouraged. So if you want to do something with other jeepers that nobody else is doing that week, just create an event and open it up to the membership. You’ll be surprised how many folks will show up.
Austin Jeep People: Membership
In order to join the ranks of Austin Jeep People, you must own a Jeep and be willing to participate in events.
That’s pretty much it.
Once approved as a member you can show off your membership by applying the official Austin Jeep People badge to your Jeep.
These badges are available to approved members at most Austin Jeep People functions.
Other Austin Jeep People merchandise and custom badges can be purchased at ajpswag.com.
Though the badges and swag are for purchase, there aren’t any dues or fees for actual membership in Austin Jeep People.
As far as keeping your membership in good standing, there are only a few things that Austin Jeep People asks of its members.
Austin Jeep People expects its members to conduct themselves with both moral and common sense. Any and all issues that could result in a member being removed from membership are handled by the group admins on a case by case basis.
It should also be noted that Austin Jeep People has worked hard to establish good relationships with the local community and local law enforcement. As such, Austin Jeep People has a strict policy against illegal wheeling and any illegal activity involving members who are badged with the Austin Jeep People logo or decal.
So simply put, if you are going to be a member of Austin Jeep People, keep it legal and be kind.
Austin Jeep People: Activities
There are plenty of activities to do that are completely legal and fun though. Truth be told, the amount of activities that Austin Jeep People has going on will make your head spin. As a member myself, I get at least 2 or 3 event invites a week. To list them all would be an exercise in futility.
But you aren’t required to go to any of them. Just the ones that fit your lifestyle. But what fun is it to be a member of a group if you aren’t active right?
With that said, Austin Jeep People has official meet ups on a bi-weekly basis and beginner wheeling runs on a monthly basis.
Beyond the myriad of regular group activities, Austin Jeep People is actively involved in charitable events. Over the years, Austin Jeep People has donated thousands of dollars to various charities.
They also have a huge run they do every year called the Polar Bear Run at Hidden Falls. This is also a charitable run. The Polar Bear Run is THE don’t-miss Austin Jeep People event of the year. We’re talking hundreds of Jeeps. As of this writing there are 241 jeepers signed up!
One of the really nice things about the Polar Bear Run charities they donate to, is that the charities are nominated by the members and chosen by a vote via polls on the Austin Jeep People Facebook group. I really like this idea. Anyone can nominate a charity and everyone gets a vote.
Austin Jeep People: Closing Thoughts
If you are in the Austin area and you are looking for a huge, ridiculously active Jeep group to be a part of, Austin Jeep People is the one for you. No other group in the Austin area has the membership numbers nor the amount of regularly scheduled activities.
Regardless of the size of Austin Jeep People, I’ve personally witnessed the members of Austin Jeep People rally around its members in times of need.
In the short time I’ve been a member of Austin Jeep People, I’ve seen the members of the group help people who are broken down, install new mods, participate in charity events, help members move, help members find new jobs, and teach people to wheel. As a matter of fact the very first time I ever went wheeling was with this group.
Personally, I’m really thankful that I ran into this group early on in my own Jeep life and hope to part of the group for a long time to come.
Let me know your thoughts on Austin Jeep People. Are you a member? Leave a comment and let me know.
Until next time, keep it dirty and wheels side down.