Here is a list of some county facilities and groups involved in amateur athletics and recreation. Note that many groups maintain Web sites, and some use them exclusively to field inquiries from newcomers.
Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks: The agency has the best overview of the county's competitive scene. The department produces seasonal listings of its activities, from sports to trips to classes.
Headquarters: 7120 Oakland Mills Road, Guilford. 410-313-4700.
For general information and team and course offerings via the Internet, search for "Howard County, Md., recreation and parks."
Most adult team sports in the county are organized through the department, and some youth teams use the department for registration.
For sport-specific information: www.hcrpsports.com.
Columbia Park and Recreation Association: The organization is supported by all Columbia property owners and operates, for fees, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, three tennis clubs (one open year-round), an ice-skating rink, three athletic clubs, two 18-hole golf courses, a miniature golf course, a skateboard park and a horse center.
Columbia residents and those who work in the county get reduced memberships or fees at all facilities. Nonresidents also can use the facilities for higher fees. Fees vary by facility.
Headquarters: 10221 Wincopin Circle, Columbia. 410-715-3000, or www.columbiaassociation. com.
Three community-oriented groups offer multiple sports for children. Volunteers and centers in the communities listed operate all three. Because of blurred boundaries and other considerations, participants are allowed from outside their primary communities.
Elkridge Youth Organization offers soccer, basketball, baseball and softball. Serves the northeastern portion of the county. www.eyosports.org.
Howard County Youth Program: Offers baseball, fast-pitch softball, volleyball and basketball. The group holds a long-term lease on Kiwanis-Wallas Park, a multiple-field facility for baseball and softball, at U.S. 40 and Route 144 on the western edge of Ellicott City. Draws primarily from greater Ellicott City. www.hcyp.org.
Savage Boys and Girls Club: Offers soccer, flag football, basketball, baseball and softball and serves communities in the southern and southeastern portion of the county. 301-604-8308, or www.savagebgc.org.
Howard County YMCA, 4331 Montgomery Road, Ellicott City. Offers fitness programs for all ages; machines, free weights, swimming, summer camps. 410-465-4334.
The Athletic Club, 5435 Beaverkill Road, Columbia. One of three such facilities operated by the Columbia Association. Offers classes, facilities, equipment and free weights. Memberships open to everyone, with lower fees for residents and people who work in Columbia. 410-730-6744, or www.columbia association.com.
Columbia Gym, River Hill Village Center, Clarksville. Operated by the Columbia Association. 410-531-0800, or www.co lumbiaassociation.com.
Supreme Sports Club, 7080 Deepage Drive, Columbia. Operated by the Columbia Association. 410-381-5355, or www.co lumbiaassociation.com.
Columbia neighborhood pools. Twenty-three outdoor pools. Operated by the Columbia Association. Open memberships, with emphasis on people who live or work in Columbia. Organized by Columbia neighborhoods. 410-715-3000, or www.columbiaassociation.com.
Columbia Swim Center, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia. Two indoor pools and a five-story, dual flume operated year-round by the Columbia Association.
Open memberships, with emphasis on people who live or work in Columbia. Offers instruction, recreation programs, competitive and open swimming for all ages and skill levels. 410-730-7000, or www.colum biaassociation.com.
Columbia Clippers youth team trains and competes here year-round.