Frank, you may just be the longest all-grain holdout that I have ever met.
I understand where you are coming from with respect to the BJCP. What makes being a BJCP judge worth it is the community. You will not find a more dedicated and supportive group of people in the greater home brewing community.
Yes, for the first fifteen years, it was just Charlie P and I. I didn't know anybody else who brewed until I joined the brew club. Once I got with other brewers, I took off.
It's true what you say about the BJCP community. Though I don't usually judge (though I have judged, once) I do steward every year for my brew club's open comp. And I have to say that the judges are the nicest folks (see what I did there, Amanda) that one would ever meet anywhere. Like the folks on this forum, they are open and willing to share their knowledge and expertise. Being an English teacher, I am trained to be so critical of everything that I read and hear, I've decided to approach beer and brewing from a perspective of enjoyment first and criticism second. My nature is too be critical, but beer is the thing that I do to relax and enjoy. I wholeheartedly respect those that sort of "guard the gate" and keep us brewers on out toes and striving to do our best, BJCP judges.