If socialization= friends over for playtime, games, overnights, hushed conversations in the bedroom, wrestling and nerf wars.... it can be hard to find those folks from any venue. I have good neighbors just down the road, and connecting is not so easy. We have some good friends we've made through scouts, but again, they are busy with family and none too mobile for themselves. We have these brief encounters at random times that the girls can really let loose and enjoy the company of other kids. We have had no success with our unschooling group so far. So much busy-ness! We take what we can when it comes. Just this week it was entertaining a 3yo friend at our camp by the beach. Many giggles and fun. Water fights and charades with aunts and uncles and grandma the week before.
I really do lament the amazing freedom I had when I was a kid-- but there were far more kids packed into a small area growing up, we were all far less scheduled--some of that was good, some of that was because we never did a d@mn thing in the way of camping or visiting or anything (boooooring!) Parents were eventually both away at work until the evening, and we were unsupervised throughout the summers starting when I was 8yo. More parents were home on the weekends and working M-F.
In our family, we make time for fair, for camping, for family visits, we retain some activities over summer and suring the year we have more. We have families that we can't connect with because our good days are their bad days. I've been trying to "hook up" with a gal and her daughter for over a year now, and we are giving it another "go" in August during the brief window we have before fair and GS camp. Cousin home from grad school in NYC, need to stop and visit him before we don't see him for another 2 years. And we are in the exact same position that other families are in. Families seem more involved with each other these days, kids are fewer and farther between necessitating car rides.....
Just outlining some of the difficulties we've experienced connecting with folks who have free time at the same time we do. Girl Scouts has worked because we purposefully make room for a lot of playtime at our meetings, unlike most troops, and the girls have time to connect on their own terms. That's resulted in a bevvy of birthday parties this summer. DD9 was lamenting not having any friends her age, and after I commiserated with her, I pointed out how different this year has been compared to last year. Eventually she will find something to satisfy her needs. DD7 makes friends easily, but one of her best friends only comes around when she visits her grandma next door. *When* that happens, it's wonderful.
It's a slow process that even school kids these days are not immune to. I've had to reach much farther than the homeschooling community to find great playmates, and of course finding someone doesn't always "click". It might be a long time before they are able to relish those intimate friendships.
I consider it a good sign in some ways that families are making more time for each other before they go their separate ways. When I'm feeling discouraged, I like to think of the pioneer kids like Laura Ingalls Wilder who never really even considered needing outside friendships for fulfillment, but eventually enjoyed them when circumstances allowed for them.
I feel your frustration because I am in a similar position, but thankfully seeing our friendships slowly blossom, just not in predictable ways.
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."