The kids from Central Tech's archery club came out to the public range for a field trip on the weekend. That's cool advantage no.1. They had a barbecue to boot. There's no. 2. Let's assume the social interaction will pay off somewhere down the line in a networking way. No. 3. And surely it's giving them at least one kind of discipline and/or transferable life skill, putting us at no. 4, and maybe more.
Ok, so I was in one club in high school. I was pretty tickled when at graduation they gave me a little plaque for belonging to the Black Awareness Club. Speaking of 'awareness', I kind of didn't realize I was in it. At lunchtime, a lot of my friends were in there, so I went in to hang out. And really, I think it would be foolish to think kids are as pragmatic as to enumerate and pursue advantages as listed above. Clubs probably mostly equate to a bunch of friends hanging out, with the school paying for some equipment to facilitate them doing a cool thing they like.
Like, this troop seemed to be, you know, kids. Doing a cool thing they liked but at their own speed, in a pretty expansively flexible spirit. Trying different distances, sharing equipment, being playful, wandering around the park. Which seems to capture the idea of field trips: to check out new things. I am feeling thoroughly outfoxed by education now. We totally get lured into learning by the fun stuff. Sneaky.