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Getting Youth Involved In Our Hobby


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#1 SARGE

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 08:03 AM

Gents,

 

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!

 

http://www.kcmcc.org/

 

 

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#2 Garandomatic

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 08:28 AM

Awesome. I've got interested students and usually help them find things here and there, myself.

#3 RememberThe5thESB

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 11:46 AM

Well, I myself am a younger collector and am trying to at least spread information about the history itself if not help someone get into the hobby. Tomorrow I'll be bringing in some of my things for a display at school for the history classes there. And in the past there has been a lot of interest shown in the items I bring, which honestly surprised me, but it was a good surprise. (Except hearing that my peers tried on some of the uniforms but you know.)

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#4 Fly USMC

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 12:04 PM

Love it!  Great Job!



#5 SARGE

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 11:46 AM

Well, I myself am a younger collector and am trying to at least spread information about the history itself if not help someone get into the hobby. Tomorrow I'll be bringing in some of my things for a display at school for the history classes there. And in the past there has been a lot of interest shown in the items I bring, which honestly surprised me, but it was a good surprise. (Except hearing that my peers tried on some of the uniforms but you know.)

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Good job!  Part of the process it to expose people to collecting in a positive way.  You have got the right idea IMHO.



#6 RememberThe5thESB

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 07:10 AM

Good thing about it was the response, according to my teacher about 3 of the 7 period classes went right up to the stuff! It always surprises me how much people actually are interested in these things. But its not a bad surprise at all!

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#7 eaglerunner88

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 07:38 AM

Reenacting is another great avenue to gain interest in such things for youth. "Living historians" inevitably become collectors who obtain a deeper appreciation for the uniforms, gear, weapons ect. That's great to see in the hobby, no matter what era.

#8 Rakkasan187

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 08:36 AM

Interesting Eagle Scout project.. As an Eagle Scout I can appreciate the thought that went into this and kudos to this young man's Scout Council and committee members who approved this project. I would say that this type of project if presented say 37 years ago when I received my Eagle in my Council the project may have been disapproved. Seeing this type of project and the man hours and community service time to bring the public out and participate is remarkable and also considering we have just celebrated the Centennial of the end of WW1 the timing was also very appropriate..

 

Well done

 

Leigh 



#9 36thIDAlex

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 05:45 PM

Young collector here. I am good friends with a few others but generally I am the only one wherever I find myself, often leading to some really good conversation when I bring it up. I did multiple displays for my high school and am preparing to possibly do one at my university as the 75th of a lot of things come up this next year. I personally began as a Civil War reenactor but after finding some of my g-grandfathers items from WWII, seriously got invested into both collecting and WWII reenacting as well.
I always encourage others to preserve the artifacts they find, especially from family members, letting them know how they can do their own part to preserve history without the hefty investments most of us put into it. Lots of times I’ll try and help others I know research their ancestors, one leading to finding out her grandfather who she knew well was a glider pilot in Normandy and later a pathfinder for Operation Dragoon.
While I haven’t made many collectors yet, as one of those “social media” enamored youths, I see plenty of other young collectors posting about their collections. I wouldn’t be too concerned about the hobby dying, most young people just get scared off when they hear the value of things believing all collecting is about spending lots of money when in reality there are plenty of equally important items that really don’t cost too much.

-Alex

#10 jumpy1111

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 08:42 PM

Hey! I'm a young collector (junior-high level young) and I've been very interested in this hobby for about a year and a half. Unfortunately, neither of my parents are supportive of the hobby, to the point of criticizing me for it. For example, they'll say "Why are you so much into this silly 'army stuff'? It's only about killing." The worst part about it is that I'm spending my own money on this because I legitimately enjoy it, and they're trying to quash it like a melon under a boot. Not only that, but I get ridiculed about it at school too, because every now and then I'll wear an old flecktarn or jungle fatigue jacket. Any help would be appreciated - WHAT DO I DO!?



#11 m1a2u2

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 04:30 PM

Keep being yourself. It’s about history. That’s all.

#12 Fiziwater

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 07:59 PM

jumpy, I have to laugh cause the reaction you're getting from your parents is good training for marriage. My wife has moved past the disapproval stage and into the toleration phase. Although, one day I suited up in my WWI uniform, helmet, field gear and rifle and she seemed genuinely impressed. You're getting a taste of history with your collecting, which is a special experience that not everyone understands or appreciates. Soldier on, and enjoy the joy of collecting!

#13 Ray42

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 12:48 PM

Jumpy I agree with Fiziwater, and that the way to win over parents is to impress them.  One way I did so with my own parents was to include some items that I knew they would be interested in.  My mom is a battle Im still fighting and I am at the "That's cool but wouldn't it be better and much cheaper to see it in a museum" stage.  My dad however loves guns so once I convinced him to get me my first M1 and he saw how fun it really was he has fully supported it. 


Edited by Ray42, 24 December 2018 - 12:50 PM.


#14 Garandomatic

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 11:43 AM

My folks have always been supportive, but it took cutting loose a few things to cover emergencies to win over my wife as far as being ok with me spending money goes. Dad's picked things up for me over the years, too. Actually, they've always supported all of my hobbies.

#15 Garandomatic

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 11:47 AM

As for school... one of my kids shows up in uniform every now and then. I helped him put together a head to toe ike set as a tribute to his great grandpa that was wounded with the 6th division in the Pacific. To hell with what other people think, you won't change 'em. If you like it and can tolerate the idiots, do what you want.

#16 Garandomatic

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 11:59 AM

Additionally... don't necessarily expect other people to "get it" either.

#17 RememberThe5thESB

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 06:03 PM

I myself am glad that my parents are supportive, my dad a whole lot, but my mom still thinks that I'm bringing in stinky items to foul up my closets smell! But then again, my grandfather is a "junk" collector, anything old and valuable he gets, and has helped me with my collection. I even got a real nice WW2 German belt and buckle from him today for Christmas!

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#18 artur95

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 06:57 PM

Jumpy, I agree with what was previously said about impressing your parents. My father was tolerant to a certain extent when I began, I was about 7, while my mother was a different story. She thought my collecting of militaria was a boyhood phase and this persisted for some time. I changed my parents perception by investing a lot of time in doing research, taking care of my collection, and undertaking adult level activities by myself. I was a 17 year old nervous kid when I contacted the daughter of a veteran whose uniform I have, wanting to know more about her father. It formed a friendship that continues to this day. Now Im 23. In the intermediate period I volunteered at one historical society and inventoried a military collection, attended two military reunions as a guest (one WWII and the other Iraq), interned at two military museums, curated a public military display, and made a smaller display for my community college.

Its taken a lot of hard work but through my actions, I showed my parents that I was serious about this hobby - my passion. My parents have accepted for me who I am now; a weird military history nut. So my advice for you jumpy, and any other younger collector, is dont let people put you down. Do cool things with your hobby. Itll make people see you in a different light!

Edited by artur95, 26 December 2018 - 06:59 PM.


#19 artur95

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 07:08 PM

In regards to getting youth involved in the hobby, I have to admit that I havent done much since high school besides handing out small bits of militaria here and there. I once brought the uniform of a local officer to my history class in the 11th grade. Briefly I gave a presentation on the vets war time service but concluded by talking about his life following the war. Having something tangible to the Second World War and a story in which they could somehow relate to, at least being residents of the same town, captured the classs attention. I doubt I got anyone interested in the hobby that day, but its still a potent way of reaching out to younger people.

Edited by artur95, 26 December 2018 - 07:10 PM.


#20 jumpy1111

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 03:59 PM

Thanks for responding guys. Especially in the past few days, my dad has been cracking down really hard on anything militaria and essentially saying "remove it - or else". I'll try to take your advice to heart. I love this hobby but my parents try to kill it every chance they get. The odd thing is my grandfather on my dad's side was a foreign air force veteran, and my mom's dad was an 82nd Airborne Paratrooper in Vietnam. It's odd that they don't support it at all. 



#21 Garandomatic

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 04:19 PM

Man there's a million worse things out there for a kid to get involved with... godspeed...

#22 JasonT

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 04:59 PM

Jumpy, I feel for you. Its frustrating when parents don't support their kids interests or hobbies in general because you never know what good things it may lead to, especially if the kid is good at what they like to do or has a particular talent. Like others have said, there are a lot worse things a kid these days could be spending their time and money on.

I'm just curious - have your parents ever given you a real reason why they dont support it? You mentioned you spend your own money, which is good and responsible. Do they feel like the time spent is time away from school work or sports? Do you collect stuff other than US, such as Nazi items? They must have a specific reason other than they just dont like it. I think if you find out what the actual reason is, it may help you to win them over or prove that their worries are unfounded.

#23 Kadet

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 05:40 AM

"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 always hear this too and am honestly not sure I buy it. I'm a veteran (29 years), an Eagle Scout and have collected militaria since I was 10 (that would be 1973). My parents were antique collectors, and dragged me around on their shopping expeditions. Militaria caught my eye and it just went from there. Militaria collecting led to my military career. I went to local shows and other venues from a very young age and I can say this; militaria collectors were primarily old guys in the 1970s too. In fact, I was typically the only kid at these events and none of my friends cared about it either. To the dealers grousing about no young people buying their stuff, here is a message from someone who has 'been there and done that". Occasionally let a nice item go for very low price to a young collector. News flash...but young collectors typically don't have much money, which may be why they don't actively collect. A few dealers did this for me and it was much appreciated. And to the folks that say young people have no interest in military service, veterans etc I will remind you that our nation has been at war since 2001 using an all volunteer force. When a youngster signs up for the military these days, there is a better than average chance they will actually be going in harm's way yet there is no shortage of volunteers. I think that is remarkable.


Edited by Kadet, 13 January 2019 - 05:46 AM.


#24 SARGE

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 11:24 AM

Kadet,

 

I think you are right.  I got started as a kid too and now I am one of the grey haired guys at the shows.  When I set up at a show such as SOS I will always give away, or sell at cost, to kids and new collectors.  Not only does it get you good will it is the right thing to do IMHO.  Many of us were once that budding young collector and got a break or two along the way.  Talk to newbies and encourage them.  Tell them the hard learned lessons you know about fakes and values.  Don't keep knowledge secret.  Be a good neighbor.



#25 bobgee

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 02:46 PM

All good counsel. Got to remember that everybody is different with different tastes and that certainly includes immediate family. I grew up in the post-WWII era when patriotism was more in vogue than today. The youngster who plays military related computer games may decide to learn more by reading history books and watching some of the many cable history shows. I wanted real artifacts from the military as it gave me another dimension of interest. A family connection with a veteran is often the catalyst for learning more and going out looking for military stuff. Getting involved as a volunteer with a local museum or veteran 's organization can reap benefits. Jumpy - don't be put off by others negativity about your military collecting interests. Go for it! Semper Fi...….Bobgee




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