Note: The thoughts expressed in this article are the result of having attended meetings at many different flying clubs across the province. They are not a reflection of any one particular club.
Young member is a relative term. Look around many traditional flying clubs and you will quickly notice that the demographics are heavily weighted toward those that learned to fly when you could earn a private license for less than what a tank of avgas costs today. The average age at many flying clubs is approaching 65-75 years old. For the purpose of this article, the reference to young members will capture those that are under the age of 50.
Flying Club or Meeting Club?
All of this occurs as the excited, young, new member's enthusiasm withers away and goes soft like a banana left in a plastic bag in a car on a hot summer day. This prospective new member won't be back and the local community has just lost one piece of the future of their club. That's right, I said it but you are all thinking it and know the same thing to be true because we've all been there.
DON'T WORRY! IT'S NOT TO LATE TO FIX THINGS
Tired Boards Need Fresh Paint
These exhausted boards would welcome a new face to step up and do their part to steer the club in a new direction. Remember, a "young" board will attract "young" members. Don't worry about not being experienced in the pomp and circumstance that surrounds formal meetings, it doesn't have to be that way.
Executive Committee Politics
If you don't like what the board has accomplished in their term then let your opinions be heard at the next election with your ballot or better yet be part of the change and nominate yourself and put your time in to effect the change that you want to see. The executive committee's job should be to protect the members from the politics that take away from the atmosphere and enjoyment of the club.
Enable board members and members at large to take initiatives without going through exhaustive committees. Nothing stifles a great idea like the delay caused by waiting for the next committee meeting. Common sense prevails of course but trust and leeway to make decisions can be the reward for good judgement and decision making. Act on member ideas swiftly and cut the red tape before the enthusiasm is gone.
You Get What You Give
In order to be successful, flying clubs need new "young" members to carry the torch and new "young" members need to make themselves heard. Take a risk and express an opinion, even if it goes against the grain. While you may meet some resistance, the "older" members will respect you for taking a chance and speaking your thoughts, something that is rare for a new member to do. Just remember, speak respectfully, be open to input and don't get defensive.
Buy Low Sell High and Put In Some Sweat Equity
"Young" members have the ability to invest their skills in the club. Perhaps you can volunteer to look after the Club's website or social media account. After all, the days of telephone trees has gone the way of the dodo. Use social media to your advantage. Don't kid yourself, the "older" crowd will resist citing a disdain for THE FACEBOOK. Don't worry, when they see the attention and fresh faces that it brings to the club they will come around and might even sign up. No great change ever happened without someone taking a chance.
Youth Attracts Youth
Prove Value To Members
Value isn't always financial, it is more often a perception. Giving your members a reason to gather and go flying and providing an environment for camaraderie is added value which is often more valuable than any financial saving incentive. Get the ball rolling and see where it goes.
Talk to Other Clubs That Are Doing It Right
Collaborate with Regional & National Associations
Help the BC General Aviation Association Help You