The members of the Coastal Brunswick County Jeeps group come together for their love of Jeeps and are united by adventure, fellowship and fundraising.

You may have heard this saying before: “A Jeep isn’t just a vehicle, it’s a lifestyle.” Sure, you get all the power, functionality and reliability, but with a Jeep, you get much more, namely community. Being part of a group of like-minded individuals united by adventure, fellowship and fundraising might just be the best part of owning a Jeep. At least it is for the members of Coastal Brunswick County Jeeps (CBCJ).

There are hundreds if not thousands of Jeep clubs across the United States. But CBCJ “isn’t a club, but a group” explains CBCJ Founder Jason Bennett, and there is a distinction between the two. “We don’t have officers, and there are no stipulations on the number of events you have to make or participate in, and we don’t have restrictions on the types of Jeeps you drive.”  Though they operate differently than a Jeep Club, they partner with several area clubs for different events.

Custom Jeep Club

Bennett organized CBCJ in June 2019. When he moved to Brunswick County, he owned a truck and quickly realized a Jeep would be more practical for the weather. But he also wanted to be able to work on it himself and find other like-minded Jeepers. He searched for local clubs and forums but didn’t find any, so he started his own. “In the last five years, our group has just exploded, and other clubs as well,” Bennett says.

CBCJ has 998 online members to date.

“We have about 50 to 60 very active members and another 60 who are semi-active,” says Cory Brietzke, a group member.

The group gets together for off-road events, camping retreats and trail rides throughout Brunswick County and other out-of-state destinations like Tennessee and South Carolina. They also just enjoy each other’s company, often meeting at local establishments like Makai Brewing Company or impromptu pop-up dinners at area restaurants.

Coastal Brunswick Jeep Club NC

What is it about Jeeps that attract adventurists and enthusiasts? For starters, Jeep is an American icon. It was primarily made for the United States military in 1941 and would be used by American troops during World War II in 1943 to clear land for Army camps in England. Its history, reliability and ruggedness are part of its allure and popularity today.

There is even a Jeep wave that you’re supposed to use when you pass a fellow Jeep on the road: You extend two fingers up from the steering wheel and give a nod.

Jeeps are also conversation starters, and they often reflect the personalities of their drivers. Owners also like to give their Jeeps names. Group members Jennifer and Adam Burton have seven dachshunds, so they named their two Jeeps Ring Master and Weinger Wagon. Stacey Brietzke named hers Stomper after her favorite childhood toy, and Corey Brietzke’s Jeep is named Dirt Dawg because he “likes to play in the mud like any dog.”

Bennett’s Jeep, bright red, is named Christine, after the Stephen King horror novel. “One day my Jeep decided to eject me out of the seat, I got bounced into a tree, and then it sucked me back in,” he says. “The seat belt got locked. I guess she didn’t want me to leave her.”

Inclusivity is at the heart of Coastal Brunswick County Jeeps. Member Jessi Viox can attest to that. She owns a Jeep Compass, an SUV, named Pip Squeak that she has had a little more than a year.

Coastal Brunswick Jeep Club

“A family member of mine had a Jeep, and they would always talk about their adventures and that’s what got me interested in Jeeps,” she says. “I could not quite afford a Wrangler, but I wanted a four-by-four so I could take it out on the beach. So that’s what I went with, and then I found this group. And they have been so welcoming. I’ve had my little Jeep on top of mountains, on the beach and buried in mud.”

The group offers an inclusive, non-judgmental place to learn about proper off-roading, mechanical support, safety, buying suggestions and overall inspiration. It is a great place to meet other Jeep devotees who can help make owning a Jeep more fun and rewarding.

Giving back to the community is important to the members of CBCJ. They spend a lot of time setting up fundraisers throughout the county. The group recently put on a Jeep Ride and raised nearly $4,000 for the family of a young boy who needed a kidney transplant. In August they hosted a school supply drive for Cedar Grove Middle School, raising funds for supplies that kids can take home on the weekends. The group also raises funds for local food banks and hopes to increase awareness of food insecurity that plagues an estimated 15 percent of residents in Brunswick County.

Coastal Jeep Club NC

Besides all the community activities and planned events, CBCJ is here to help fellow Jeepers or soon-to-be Jeepers learn about their vehicles from driving tips to modifications to safety practices to off-roading instruction. Members are readily available to assist one another during breakdowns.

“We’ve been known to drive six hours to put a Jeep on the trailer if it’s something that can’t be fixed on the trail,” Bennett says.

Join the Jeeps
If you drive a Jeep or are interested in learning more about Jeeps and want to be part of Coastal Brunswick County Jeeps, you can join the CBCJ Facebook Group at facebook.com/groups/cbcountyjeeps

Photography by Katie D Photography