It actually has nothing to do with surfing and only occasionally involves couches, but it has everything to do with making the most of low-cost traveling and hospitality.
The online community allows members to list their homes as a free place to stay when travelers stop in their city, and to search the site for places to stay on their own travel ventures.
Bill Goodberlet, 56, recently joined the community and has already hosted a few people in his Windsor Township home.
"I found out about it through my daughter," said Goodberlet. "A lot of her friends were utilizing the services and she said, 'Dad you've got a big house, use it.'"
While some hosts from Couchsurfing.org do have guests sleep on their sofa, Goodberlet and his wife, Sue, live in a four-bedroom Colonial, so they can offer guests their extra bedrooms and bathroom.
No charges: Charging anyone to stay in your home is against the rules, he said.
One visitor was in town to do a presentation at a local school and another was coming to York on a temporary assignment and needed a place to stay until things were finalized on her apartment.
"Both times we've shared a meal," Goodberlet said. "That wasn't a requirement, but they've really been pleasant people."
"The gal that stayed here for three days, I feel like she is one of my daughters. So it has been really great," he
said. "Our guests have been Americans, but it is an international community as well. You could go to Vietnam and find a couch to sleep on."
No plans to use serv ice: He and his wife do not plan to utilize the services when they travel, but they enjoy opening up their home.
"The website seems very secure and informative, and it seems like it would be very self-policing if someone was a bad guest or host," said Goodberlet.
"We're still newbies, but we're feeling our way into the community," he said. "There are some community events as well, where people might get together for beer or a barbecue, or there are people coming into town that don't need a place to stay but just want a friend to take them around town. It's a fascinating community."
York City resident Gerald Davidson, 44, has hosted guests through couch surfing and has also used the website's services while traveling.
"There are various levels of participation," said Davidson. "You can either host someone or show someone around your local city, whatever you are comfortable with."
As an artist, Davidson travels a lot for work, and the system allows him to minimize his costs.
He has been a member of the site for about three years and has stayed at homes in Chicago, Minnesota, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.
"It has always been a fascinating experience for me, meeting new people wherever I travel," Davidson said. "And they always have firsthand knowledge of the place, so if I need somewhere to go, they know exactly where I should go."
He has also developed two solid friendships with people he has met while couch surfing.
A range of guests: In terms of hosting, Davidson and his wife, Roshne, and their 12-year-old son, Shak, have had a wide range of people stay in their home.
"We've had someone that has traveled the world like you read about in books, people cycling across the United States, a mother with a baby that was less than 2 weeks old -- we've had all kinds of people," Davidson said. "It is really beneficial for our son to interact and listen in on these conversations with diverse people."
Their guests have come from as far away as Canada and Germany.
Davidson said he has never had a negative experience with couch surfing -- as a host or as a guest.
How to host
Several increasingly popular online communities allow you to host travelers and stay in the homes of others when you travel -- for free.
---CouchSurfing.org: based in San Francisco
---BeWelcome.org: based in France
-- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or email@example.com