I constantly hear dealers and collectors grouse at shows about the graying of our hobby and bemoan the perception that young people are not interested in collecting militaria or in the military (i.e. Veterans) in general. I heard a litany of complaints about this topic at the Leavenworth military show that I attended a couple of weeks ago. I thought I would let you know what we in Kansas City are doing about this issue with the hope that it may show us all a path ahead.
We have a very successful organized group of military collectors in the Kansas City Metro and we meet for dinner once a month as the Kansas City Military Collectors Club (KCMCC). I am the Vice President of the club and have been a member for 30 years or thereabouts. KCMCC has been in existence for some 50 years so we must be doing something right. We have recruited young members by having informational tables at shows and handouts and business cards and putting on club displays that are free to the public. At this month's meeting we had a young Junior High School member show off his new named WWII US Army uniform and his new M-1 Garand (at show-n-tell time) that he just got from CMP with the help of his dad. His father, or mother, routinely drives him to meetings and shows and both are very supportive of his hobby.
Also this month, we had a year end report from the Grandson of one of our members on a display that he did at the WWI Liberty Memorial and Museum. Mason came to the club, at the invitation of his Grandfather, to explain his proposed Eagle Scout project to design and build an obstacle course for youth during a display on the museum grounds. We normally give money for various projects around the KC Metro such as cleaning monuments, buying items for local museums (we helped the WWI Museum buy their tank) and so forth. So we gave Mason some money to build his project. He is now an Eagle Scout because of this project and we helped open the world of military collecting to quite a few kids in KC. I might add that his whole family supported his project and attended our club meeting.
Here are some views of Mason's project report and a good example of how we can reach out to youth in our own areas to get younger folks involved in our hobby. Quit grousing and get involved!