In answer to part of your query, I am not a member of a camera club - but I did get to see one in action last year while shooting some pics with my F3 in downtown Tucson.
Two vans pulled up and out popped a dozen or so "seniors" (all men) who proceeded to snap away madly with their top-of-the-line digi SLRs all the while bragging that "mine's better 'n yours"....
After 10 minutes they rushed back into their vans and drove off - probably headed for the "early bird special" at a local chain restaurant.
The scene kind of put me off the idea of "camera clubs".
On course this was in Tucson, AZ and YMMV in Ireland.